Take a second before you read on to voluntarily recall what the fourth amendment is…. If you can’t remember, don’t be shamed… just know that what I am about to show you is one of the most essential parts of your freedom:
“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.” -amendment IV to the U.S. Constitution
Among the United States constitution are many safeguards against a tyrannical government, and within it is established many great rights. As we look back on the 4th of July and celebrate Americas independence from colonial rule, we must also remember to honor the 4th. This amendment is one of the better safeguards against a tyrannical government and it is under constant attack. It protects every Americans right to maintain their private property, and certainly their rights to well-expected privacy. It is expected to keep Americans away from the eye of big brother…
However, over recent years the fourth amendment has been abused, first by the patriot act, and next it seems by aerial surveillance.
The U.S. Patriot act is an acronym for “Providing Appropriate Tools Required To Intercept And Obstruct Terrorism”, and the appropriate tools being the FBI’s ability to conduct warrantless searches, the Patriot Act still hasn’t been successful in stopping terrorism. More specifically the Patriot act authorized National security letters and Sneak and Peak searches to attempt stopping terrorism. National Security Letters (NSL’s) are issued by FBI agents without a judges permission to obtain personal information including phone records, Computer Records, Credit Records, and Banking History. Basically any of 30 plus thousand Federal agents can learn everything about your life without having to receive a warrant from a judge. What’s worse, the NSL program has verified little to no success. According to ACLU, out of 192,499 NSL’s issued between 2003 and 2006, only 1 led to a terror related conviction. Not only can FBI agents agents gather all your data with a simple, self-written NSL, they can also with a warrant enter your house, take pictures, and seize property, without giving notice till later. Sadly of the thousands of searches conducted in sneak and peak fashion, less than 1 percent has been for terrorism.
Perhaps as much like the eye of big brother, as the patriot act is, constant aerial surveillance currently poses a threat to the 4th amendment rights of millions of Americans. The technology of UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) itself is amazing, but it could certainly be used in the wrong way. Neither Private Companies or Governments should be allowed to without permission spy on private property through satellites that stay afloat forever and invisible UAV’s that can stay afloat for 30 hours. Police departments like the department in Baltimore hope to use regular aerial surveillance to curb crime. It certainly could curb some crime, but there would be negative repercussions. Police would be able to see in all backyards, see thermal movement and tell where you are at all times. It is certainly a complex issue, but for the sake of the 4th amendment, we should hope domestic surveillance does not reach the levels it has reached in foreign countries.
It’s important to remember the U.S. broke off from a government that didn’t respect privacy, and would not always follow judicial processes. As aerial surveillance increases, and the patriot act continues, U.S. citizens should be careful to protect their precious forth amendment.