Here’s How The Government Is Working To Erode Constitutional Privacy Protections

privacy flag pixabay-129531_960_720By Derrick Broze

A new report details how intelligence officials are attempting to use a secret court to reinterpret privacy protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. 

A review of legal documents and interviews with officials briefed on court hearings, reveals that intelligence officials are attempting to “loosen” Americans’ privacy protections against government search and seizure. The new details come in a report from Reuters, which found that a recent surveillance order issued to Yahoo Inc. was part of a larger push to change the legal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. 

Reuters reports:

The unifying idea, they said, is to move the focus of U.S. courts away from what makes something a distinct search and toward what is “reasonable” overall.

The basis of the argument for change is that people are making much more digital data available about themselves to businesses, and that data can contain clues that would lead to authorities disrupting attacks in the United States or on U.S. interests abroad.

Civil liberties groups and some other legal experts said the attempt to expand the ability of law enforcement agencies and intelligence services to sift through vast amounts of online data, in some cases without a court order, was in conflict with the Fourth Amendment because many innocent messages are included in the initial sweep.

Robert Litt, general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), told Reuters that the legal interpretation of the Fourth Amendment needs to be adjusted.  “Computerized scanning of communications in the same way that your email service provider scans looking for viruses – that should not be considered a search requiring a warrant for Fourth Amendment purposes,” said Litt.

Essentially, government officials are arguing that since most people unquestionably release their information to businesses via the Internet, that information should not be subject to 4th Amendment protections and should be available to intelligence officials in their apparent pursuit of terrorism. The new details regarding this push for a post-privacy world comes in relation to recent secretive order issued to Yahoo.

In October 2016, Yahoo Inc. called on U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to declassify a court order that asked the company to set up a program to scan all incoming Yahoo Mail messages.The request came after reports that Yahoo had secretly installed custom software to search all customers’ emails, supposedly to isolate only emails containing specific data. The program was installed at the behest of the U.S. government, which used an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, also known as the FISA court, to legally justify the violation of privacy.

Yahoo’s general counsel asked Director Clapper to confirm the existence of the secret order and declassify it so Yahoo officials can publicly comment about the nature of the program. Tech companies like Yahoo are bound by the law to remain quiet about the nature of government surveillance requests and programs. The FISA court is notoriously secretive with little oversight. Critics say a lack of transparency has allowed various federal agencies to run mass surveillance programs with no accountability.

The courts were originally created under the the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) in response to reports produced by the 1975 Church Committee. The Senate panel was tasked with investigating the foreign and domestic surveillance operations by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) during the 1970s.  The Church Committee also released detailed reports on the governments Counter Intelligence Programs (COINTELPRO) that were used against activists and influential voices of opposition during the 1950s and ’60s.

However, since the 9/11 attacks the U.S. government has used the court to secretly interpret surveillance law for law enforcement and intelligence agencies. This allows the police and government bureaucracies to operate in the shadows when monitoring the clueless public.Now, under the protection of the FISA court secrecy, the U.S. government is attempting to find legal loopholes to justify what they are already doing.

With regard to Yahoo, the U.S. government ordered the company to create and conceal a special program on its email servers that would search for specific pieces of information. This is known as an “about” search, the idea being that content is collected because it is of interest rather than being sent or received by an already existing suspect.

Reuters noted that the post-9/11 Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board reported in 2014 that “about” searches “push the program close to the line of constitutional reasonableness.”

In late October, Anti Media reported that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion with the secretive FISA Court asking the court to release 23 legal opinions related to the U.S. government’s classified interpretation of surveillance law. The ACLU partnered with Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic for a motion calling on the FISC to release all opinions that contain “novel or significant interpretations” of law issued between 9/11 and the passage of the USA Freedom Act in June 2015.

The very existence of a secret court system where judges and unelected officials interpret the law of the land is clear evidence that the United States is not a free country. The U.S. is ruled by a cabal of shadow government agencies, Deep State spooks, corporate titans, and banksters. Only when the people wake to this reality and join the information war to expose these crimes will there be a shift in power. With a new awareness of our true power we can change from our current static, unsustainable systems towards building the solutions for a better world.

Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for ActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2

Derrick is available for interviews. Please contact Derrick@activistpost.com

This article may be freely reposted in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

  • Cal

    “The new details come in a report from Reuters, which found that a recent surveillance order issued to Yahoo Inc. was part of a larger push to change the legal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. ”

    As if.. first, the contract that those that SERVE WITHIN our governments are under does NOT give delegate to them the authority to recreate our government or to “reinterpret” it. As Michael LeMieux made clear when he said:

    “The Constitution has very little to do with the American citizen. It was written to establish a Federal Government and to place the boundaries by which that government would operate. The constitution was never designed to provide or enumerate the rights of the citizens but to restrain the federal government from meddling in state and ultimately citizen affairs.”

    Thomas Jefferson: “Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.”

    James Madison: “Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.”

    The courts were created by that document and may not decide what authority they have, or can take, that is usurpation. The lawful authority that they may use is in writing within the US Constitution and within each state’s Constitution.

    Thomas Jefferson: “…To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions is a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps… The Constitution has erected no such tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruption of time and party, its members would become despots….”

    The authority that those that serve within our governments comes with the position they will occupy – be it the branch or an office within a branch. They are then allowed to keep and use that authority as our representatives for as long as they keep the contract they are under – do the duties as found in writing within the US Constitution, state Constitutions; tale and KEEP the Oath(s) required of them in order to be eligible to hold that position or office.

    James Madison: “But it is objected, that the judicial authority is to be regarded as the sole expositor of the Constitution in the last resort;… ”

    Alexander Hamilton: “Every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.”

    John Marshall: Opinion as Chief Justice in Marbury vs. Madison, 1802: “The particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.”

    Our natural rights were NOT delegated, but some were put into the US Constitution to make clear that they were NOT under the jurisdiction of those that serve within our governments. That purpose that our governments – state first, then the general (federal really refers to the complete government, not one were created to PROTECT the rights and freedom of the American people, not to hinder, interfere, or destroy – and that is in writing, go read it.

    James Madison, Federalist 46: “The Federal and State Governments are in fact but different agents and
    trustees of the people, instituted with different powers, and designated for different purposes… They must be told that the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone; and
    that it will not depend merely on the comparative ambition or address of the different governments, whether either, or which of them, will be able to enlarge its sphere of jurisdiction at the expence of the other.”

    Thomas Jefferson: “The government created by this compact (the Constitution) was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party (the people of each state) has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.”

    • See Janus

      I’m looking at a copy of the US Constitution and all Amendments, which I re-read every year at the end of the year and I must respectfully disagree with you. While the Articles, after clarifying that “We the People” are forming this federal government, address the formation of the three branches of federal government and the rights of the States, the Amendments are all about the Rights guaranteed to Individuals, and most are well known to Americans who graduated from high school still able to read and write in the English language. It is important to remember that those taking federal office are required to make an Oath to the US Constitution and its Amendments.

  • Brad Dueringer

    Tptb’s biggest fear, which drives most of the surveillance state, is that the people will forms groups or plans to go up against them.

  • Louis Charles

    I guess we should stop doing business with corporate America… If you give people you can not trust, info you would rather be kept private, you are a fool. Same goes for when you speak on your phone, or play on the internet: Assume NOTHING is private there, and act accordingly. Do your business privately…. and with people you can trust.

  • See Janus

    Once again, there is just zero accountability for government employees, government departments and government agencies. The Berlin market terrorist plot was allegedly carried out by a terrorist who law enforcement agencies said they were specifically watching for 6 months. So, if these geniuses reading the suspect’s emails, text messages and listening to his phone calls, analyzing his every purchase and scoping his personal conversations are incapable of figuring out that a deadly killing spree is about to happen, how is it possible that sifting through every American’s business emails and online purchases is relevant to anything. This is just harassment and busy work to justify trillions of dollars of Taxpayer expenditures and the $20 Trillion dollar deficit. Stop the madness. American intelligence agencies can’t even follow up on known suspects! Just Say NO to this nonsense.

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