You think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen. Ron Wyden says it’s worse than you know. Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. Wyden (D-Oregon) says that powers they grant the government on their face, the government applies a far broader legal interpretation — an interpretation that the government has conveniently classified, so it cannot be publicly assessed or challenged. But one prominent Patriot-watcher asserts that the secret interpretation empowers the government to deploy ”dragnets” for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently. “We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden told Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office.From Reason Hit and Run:
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court said the "exigent circumstances" that exist when someone might be flushing drugs down a toilet allow police to enter a home without a warrant, even if their own actions create those circumstances.From The Washington Times:
As the lone dissenting justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, noted, this decision "arms the police with a way routinely to dishonor the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement in drug cases." Instead of "presenting their evidence to a neutral magistrate," they can retroactively validate their decision to break into someone's home by claiming they smelled something funny and heard something suspicious.
While the U.S. Supreme Court said police may force their way into a home to prevent the destruction of evidence, the Indiana Supreme Court, in a less noticed decision issued the week before, said police may force their way into a home for any reason or no reason at all. Although the victim of an illegal search can challenge it in court after the fact, three of the five justices agreed, "there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers." They thereby nullified a principle of common law that is centuries old, arguably dating back to the Magna Carta.
What most Americans don’t realize is that if the government wants to read your emails, look at your pictures or gain access to any data that you have stored online for more than 180 days on sites including Yahoo! Google Docs and online backup sites, it can do so without a search warrant. Data saved online is not protected by the Fourth Amendment in the same way that information is protected if it is stored on a home computer, CD or detachable hard drive.From the Constitution:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.