Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The 4th Amendment Quandary

The Supreme Court heard cases yesterday regarding the rights, or not, of the police to search cell phones without a warrant when the phones are on a person being arrested for good reason.

I hope that the Court holds that without a warrant the contents of cell phones, regardless of their location, cannot be searched. The crazy part is, that as I understand it and I am not a Constitutional lawyer, my cell phone is protected in my home from random police searches without a warrant, but when I step outside with it on my person the government maintains that my same phone is fair game for unwarranted searches. 

Everywhere, it seems, we are being asked to surrender our 4th Amendment rights and many people blindly think that is OK. When we lose our protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, we will never be able to get it back. Even if the government creates the illusion that it is in our best interests to surrender our rights--nothing good will come if it. The trick that government and law enforcement especially use is that if we voluntarily provide the information, then no violation of the 4th Amendment occurs. 

I was appalled that Edward Snowden was considered by Time Magazine to be one of the 100 most influential people on the planet for 2013. He is traitor and a criminal--but, he has brought the entire issue of 4th Amendment Rights to the forefront of discussions.

Each time we blindly surrender our 4th Amendment Rights, we move closer to becoming as totalitarian state. It is too easy to find reasons to surrender our rights--and it is hard to resist the faulty logic presented.

I believe we are already seeing the negative results that come with government and business acquisition of personal information. Each time another business reports a security breach in which personal information is compromised, I question why the company needed all of that personal information anyway?

I wish it were as easy as just saying no--but the consequences of saying "no" include not being able to get a mortgage or credit card and many other important things. In some cases saying "no," a perfectly legal right, can result in loss of job. Who protects individuals and throws the penalty flag when businesses and government exceed reasonable requests for personal information which violates our 4th Amendment right to privacy?

I wish I knew. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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