Category: Amendment 4

Show me your papers

Arkansas Police Chief Proposes Random ID Checks By Armed Patrols

[Chief Todd] Stovall told the group of almost 40 residents that beginning in 2013, the department would deploy a new street crimes unit to high crime areas on foot to take back the streets.

“[Police are] going to be in SWAT gear and have AR-15s around their neck,” Stovall said. “If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID.”

[ Snip ]

“To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,” he said. “Well, I’ve got statistical reasons that say I’ve got a lot of crime right now, which gives me probable cause to ask what you’re doing out. Then when I add that people are scared…then that gives us even more [reason] to ask why are you here and what are you doing in this area.”

The Reason’s Hit & Run Blog has this article on random ID checks. Apparently, according to the article, this is not completely new and that a few other cites have been doing this type of thing for a while now.

May require a warrent?

Should police be required to get a warrant before reading your emails? The Senate Judiciary Committee thinks so: it voted unanimously Thursday to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a bill that hasn’t been changed since 1986, to require a warrant for inspection of emails and other digital communications.

Huh? That isn’t the law already?

Under current law, which wasn’t written with today’s massive hard drives or cloud-based storage in mind, police only need a warrant for emails less than six months old.

I guess not.

The email warrant reform was proposed by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. He believes the ECPA, like a decades-old operating system, badly needs an update in order to keep protecting citizens’ online privacy.

I agree. Read the complete article here Congress May Require Police to Get a Warrant for Your E-Mails

Where Is The Outrage Over the Domestic Use of Drones?

The photos that the drones will take may be retained and used or even distributed to others in the government so long as the “recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function” in requiring them. And for the first time since the Civil War, the federal government will deploy military personnel inside the United States and publicly acknowledge that it is deploying them “to collect information about U.S. persons.”

It gets worse. If the military personnel see something of interest from a drone, they may apply to a military judge or “military commander” for permission to conduct a physical search of the private property that intrigues them. And, any “incidentally acquired information” can be retained or turned over to local law enforcement. What’s next? Prosecutions before military tribunals in the U.S.? The quoted phrases above are extracted from a now-public 30-page memorandum issued by President Obama’s Secretary of the Air Force on April 23, 2012. The purpose of the memorandum is stated as “balancing…obtaining intelligence information…and protecting individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution…” Note the primacy of intelligence gathering over freedom protection, and note the peculiar use of the word “balancing.” When liberty and safety clash, do we really expect the government to balance those values? Of course not. The government cannot be trusted to restrain itself in the face of individual choices to pursue happiness. That’s why we have a Constitution and a life-tenured judiciary: to protect the minority from the liberty-stealing impulses of the majority. And that’s why the Air Force memo has its priorities reversed — intelligence gathering first, protecting freedom second — and the mechanism of reconciling the two — balancing them — constitutionally incorrect.

Uhmmm this can’t possibly go wrong. Can it? Read the whole thing at

Cars and their right to privacy. Or lack their of.

When I first read this article “Black Boxes Will Likely Be Required in New Cars by 2015” on I thought that was one of those bills that makes it way through one house but has no chance of making through both houses, let alone to the desk of the president.

Now I am not so sure…

This article “Privacy experts warn that new car black box bill doesn’t go far enough” from Ars Technica provides some follow up on the whole thing.

Your car has no right to privacy

Judge: No Warrant Needed for GPS Tracking on Vehicles

A federal judge in Missouri has ruled that the FBI was in its legal right to use GPS tracking on a man’s car without a warrant.

On one hand I am glad they caught the fraudster. On the other I think it should require a warrant to spy on people that police suspect are breaking the law. See video at the link for the details.

State Police Using Cellphone ‘Extraction’ Device

The Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is questioning the Michigan State Police’s use of cellphone "extraction" devices.

The ACLU said MSP has used the devices to access information from cellphones that officers ask drivers they have pulled over to give them.

"It can contain information that many people consider to be private, to be beyond the reach of law enforcement and other government actors," said Mark Fancher, an ACLU attorney.

I am not a big fan of the ACLU but today I am thankful that they are out there and questioning this kind of activity. Details and video on the Click On Detroit website. Its outrageous that the MSP is asking $500,000 to comply  with costs of the Freedom of Information act. Just outrageous.