How Do I Know If The Government Is Watching Me?
As soon as it appears there is a little clarity when it comes to law enforcement departments such as the FBI using GPS trackers to monitor potential “criminals” a curveball comes out of the left field that signals things may be changing yet again. For those who don’t find GPS tracking news, the story starts out with police and government agencies using vehicle trackers to conduct surveillance on those they suspected were involved in a crime. Basically by attaching a small real-time tracker or GPS data logger to the car of the suspect the police agency would have both a cost-effective and accurate way of determining where that suspect went. This helped lead to the arrest of thousands of criminals. The only problem was that it also just invaded the privacy rights of so many others not committing crimes. That left the practice of GPS tracking to be very controversial and it was only a matter of time before the highest courts in the nation reviewed the practice to see if it did indeed infringe on the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans. The Supreme Court voted 5-4 that rights were violated through the use of car tracking systems and that police and government agencies should first be required to obtain a warrant before using any GPS device for surveillance. With the landmark ruling it appeared as though the precedent was set and new guidelines would have to be adhered by, that is until the most recent news that the federal government may be considering passing legislation to allow for warrantless GPS tracking. This is just one example of how the government and FBI watch your every movement!
According to a recent report first released by technology website Wired, the Obama administration believed that warrantless GPS tracking is a practice that only helps catch bad guys. But then again why would an administration that supports drone surveillance and the attacking of Americans without due process really care if a few good guys have their constitutional rights violated? The article stated the Obama administration believed that the process of gathering a warrant can interfere and complicate the investigative process, and they have even gone as far as to suggest that stopping warrant-less GPS tracking would actually hurt the fight against terrorists. Maybe requiring a warrant and establishing probable cause before placing a GPS tracker on an automobile might result in a slightly slower (emphasis on slightly) investigative process, but at least it protects the innocent from having their rights violated. Because if 100 innocent people have to have their rights violated in order for one person to be arrested is that really justice? However, the reality is an example of government surveillance of citizens.
The Obama administration went on to say that since many of the cases do not involve the hard-wiring of real-time GPS trackers to the target vehicle that they are not intrusive. This is because many tracking devices now come with surface magnets that make it easy to simply slap the tracker underneath the target vehicle. However, the fact that the attachment of the GPS tracker may not be intrusive does not change the obvious truth that without establishing any form of probable cause that the application of satellite technology is clearly infringing on the Fourth Amendment rights of any American being targeted. This method of surveillance creates an atmosphere where the government or police agencies can essentially take the law into their own hands regardless of what the Constitution states. Most Americans want to give police every tool possible to be successful at reducing crime and eliminating deviant behavior, but this can be done without stepping all over the Constitution and our Fourth Amendment rights. By creating legislation that not only goes against a Supreme Court decision but also changes the way government and police authorities allow government spying on citizens is simply unacceptable.
Can The Government Access Your Email?
The short answer is yes the government can access your email. Many of the stories in the news regarding the FBI spying on emails worry people that the United States is moving toward becoming more of a police state. These stories include police using drones similar to those used in bombing raids in the Middle East to monitor civilians, GPS trackers to document where suspected criminals are traveling, and routine use of computer surveillance to comb through personal or work emails. Government agencies such as the FBI can claim that the use of any drone device would only be used to safeguard the public and that GPS tracking devices help police on tighter budgets continue to thwart criminal activity. Although both of these monitoring systems can indeed be used for positive causes they can also be used with malicious intent. However, the most concerning form of police surveillance that most people don’t even think about is how law enforcement authorities can review a person’s emails, without first obtaining a warrant, if those digital documents are over 180 days old.
Read that again, the government can read your emails without a warrant!
Some people will delete spam emails or other personal emails that have been read. Some prefer to keep their emails saved, especially if those digital letters have content related to business activity. With so many popular email programs such as Gmail and yahoo offering free services and essentially unlimited storage of emails, it is no surprise that more people are choosing to simply read an email then move on with their daily life. However, those old emails, those private and personal emails, can at anytime be accessed by police once they are 180 days old. This is not only legal under current legislation, but it does not even require police to obtain a warrant from a judge!
“Online information and digital security should be a concern with anyone who shares personal information on the Internet”, explained a technology specialist and writer for GPS Tracker Shop. “Anyone who has conducted online banking, posted on a blog, created a Facebook account or even used email in the past should be concerned and ask their local congressperson to update laws pertaining to electronic surveillance.”
When it comes to online security, collection of private data and many other e-topics, appropriate legislation is far, far behind the curve. This is because technology is moving much faster than politicians can keep up with. New online privacy concerns are popping up every day, especially now that websites, cell phone manufacturers, wireless carriers and mobile apps are all collecting the personal data of users for target marketing. Currently, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 is the leading document used to weigh in on such privacy concerns associated with computer technology. The only problem is that the act is so out-dated it is almost entirely useless in today’s modern computing software world filled with search and social networking.
Whether it is an infringement upon freedom disguised as homeland security the reality is the NSA is spying on citizens and combing through email accounts every single day. Although the recent revelations by Edward Snowden and subsequent outrage among citizens have to lead to some domestic spying reforms, the reality is that everyday people are essentially having their personal information raided without any reasonable cause. This is something all Americans should be concerned with.
Does Google Work For The Government
Search Engine Takes User Privacy Serious Even Under Government Pressure
In the web world, user data is gold. This is why social networking companies such as Facebook want to know what you like, Google Maps wants to know where you go and Instagram wants you to add GPS tracking data to uploaded photos. The more information search engines, social networking sites, and other companies know about users the better they can market to those users. Although mobile apps and websites continue to seek user data there has been a dynamic shift in government interest of user data. This has placed a lot of pressure on those companies that collect user-driven data, but the folks at Google are not responding lightly to the governments around the world inquiring about the private data of their users.
More and more frequently governments from all around the world are requesting that Google share private user data with them, and according to a Google Transparency Report it is the United States that is at the forefront of these user data requests. What many people fail to remember is that Google is a private enterprise and therefore does not have to follow the guidelines of the Fourth Amendment in the same way that the government does. Google users openly provide information about themselves in return for the free use of Google services. The company then collects this data to better understand and meet the search needs of those users. They use this data to sell ads and generate revenue because let’s face it, Google has to make money somehow. However, the issue of privacy becomes a very serious topic for Google and other search engines when government entities begin to demand that private user data, especially when it is a country known to exploit or infringe on the human rights of its citizens.
Court Cases Against Google
In an unprecedented move addressing the topic of government requests for private user data, the chief legal officer for Google posted on the companies’ official blog how the search engine giant goes about dealing with such situations. What surprised many readers was the internal conflict at Google in dealing with such issues in an effort to protect its users from intrusive governments. In fact, Google has a quite strict process for how they deal with personal user data, explaining that, “laws [should] protect [users] against overly broad requests for personal information.”