Free Markets, Free People

The government’s right to paw through your stuff

Let me start out with the conclusion – the government does not have a right to have easy access to your possessions on the premise that at some point in the future you might turn out to be a criminal.

There’s a lot of hoopla going on about child molesting pedophiliac serial murdering terorists(non islamic of course) who are just waiting for the release of the newer Apple IPhones so they can encrypt and hide the evidence of their crimes. This reckless disregard for government’s need to easily poke through your posessions, i.e. read the stuff on your IPhone,  will allow these yet to be criminals to get off scott free because the government will be unable to easily decrypt the data.

Well, that at least seems to be the argument I keep hearing.   I probably could have thrown in some other things these criminals are going to encrypt, but pedophiles and terrorists seem to be the hot button crimes  the government thinks are the be all end all arguments for why they should be able to get at the data without a great deal of hassel on their part.

As a counter weight to that set of players, let’s imagine a journalist, with secret “Deep-Throat” level informers inside government who has data encrypted on his phone that pertains to government malfeasence with names, and dates, including the name or names of the informers (and copies of 8×10 color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a parapgraph on the back explaining what each one is to be used as evidence against them).  And for crazy but obvious reasons the reporter really doesn’t want to share that with the government and he encrypts it on his IPhone.

Let’s presume for a moment a corrupt Department of Justice or other government agency.  Crazy talk, right?  Gee, that could never happen  (cough cough…. DOJ FIFA foot dragging, contempt of Congress Fast and Furious, IRS investigations, lost emails, crashing hard drives, NSA reading everything written by everybody that traverses the internet)   Let’s presume that the encrypted data that would bring down the government perps in these corrupt agencies is on the reporter’s IPhone, and the corrupt agency creates reason to confiscate said phone, and would like to know what’s on it, again, for crazy but obvious reasons.  Suppose the criminals ARE the government.  Nah, that could never happen.

So, do you believe you’re obligated to make your possessions easy for the government to search?   Do you believe your house should be an open book to government warrant, because, hey, you might be a criminal in the future.  People don’t think of their data as a posession, but just because the old way of storing data was ‘papers’ doesn’t mean that ‘bits’ aren’t really the same thing.   All we did was change how it’s stored.   Should you be obligated to tell the government about any and every secret hiding place you have on your property when they show up looking for those Cuban cigars you knew were illegal to bring back from your Carribean cruise?   Should you be obligated to make it EASY for them?

It has been correctly pointed out that this action by Apple is in direct response to the NSA snooping, and we joke about it, but be honest, we all pretty much think they’re looking at EVERYTHING, don’t we?   And despite their protestations of innocence, we think they’re doing it here, and abroad, for practically everyone, on any electronic transmission they can get access to.    It all has to go through routers somewhere, sometime, it’s all being recorded and relayed at some point.   All of it.   This ain’t magic ya know.  And now they’re outraged!  outraged!  that people might be trying to make it hard on them to peek and poke and prod.

And I’m supposed to believe being able to crack the data on an IPhone is going to stop, oh, another Boston Marathon bombing?  When they lost track of a guy because they didn’t spell his name right?   How are they going to get his phone to decrypt his data?

Nah, sorry, there’s a whole lot of government house cleaning that needs to go on at the IRS, the DOJ,  and the many flavors of DHS before I get excercised about them not being able to easily decrypt data on an IPhone.    I’m more afraid of the listed agencies than I am of Achmed and Mohammed or the guy who dresses up as Barney and keeps encrypted pictures of nude kids on his phone.  I’m against all of those things okay?  And my way of dealing with such people would probably be much more at home on the frontier west of the 1800’s than 21st century America.

But we have people flowing across our southern border from who knows where, thinking who knows what, carrying who knows what diseases or posessions and agencies getting bent out of shape over not being able to decrypt future criminal eveidence are doing exactly jack-all to stop THAT even though they know it’s occurring RIGHT NOW.   Keep Achmed and Mohammed out of the country, and we won’t have to worry what they’ve encrypted on their IPhones.  And we caught pedo’s before they had IPhones to encrypt data on.

Federal law enforcment can spare me their attempts at  moral outrage because from what I see they’re not outraged much by the abuses they can do something about directly right now that have nothing to do with easily decrypting future data on a future criminal’s phone.   And I am flat not convinced that the 4th Amendment was written to make it easier for the government to poke through my stuff.

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25 Responses to The government’s right to paw through your stuff

  • 99% of the government is criminal RIGHT NOW.

  • I’ve lost a lot of respect for government and moved more and more libertarian.

    I’m waiting to see if I swing back if a Republican is elected. I suspect not.

    Too much of what annoys and worries me is not about party, but power.

  • Well, and here’s the funny deal…

    IF a LEO type has PROBABLE CAUSE, they CAN obtain a warrant, and they CAN compel you to decrypt your data.

    And all it takes is due process. Whadda concept… Why, it’s almost as if people who really understood the nexus between human nature and human governmental organization designed it that way.

    Makes you think, huh?

    • IF a LEO type has PROBABLE CAUSE, they CAN obtain a warrant, and they CAN compel you to decrypt your data.

      And since they’re 99.9999% corrupt, claiming that this is a good check on tyrannical behavior is nonsense. That’s why I keep my sensitive data not just encrypted, but hidden with steganography inside music and image files. The criminal thugs in government can get all the warrants they like, but can’t prove there’s anything hidden inside.

      • IF you “sensitive data” includes kiddie porn or terrorist links, you can count on being incarcerated under contempt of court until you divulge all your whiz-bang attempts to hide it.

        Quite appropriately.

  • The courts are responsible for this erosion of the 9th Amendment

  • I find it really weird that a computer file that contains a file that is child porn or has some other non-PC property is some how illegal.
    This means there are some combination of computer bits that is illegal.
    Imagine if you could encrypt these files to look like a federal judge’s tax return.

    • The NSA already said they can do this. They can upload bad stuff to your computer. Awesome.

      • Whaaaaaaat?
        Criminal behaviour in government?!!!!!!
        Well, colour me shocked!!!
        I trust they’d have the decency to use weak encryption methods so any evidence wouldn’t’t be too difficult to obtain!

        Well, I’m sure it would only be used on the appropriate enemies of the state.

  • As an aside, your double-spaces-after-a-period is dating you, Alan. 🙂

    • It’s a tough habit to break.

    • Heh, I’ll just give out dates if it’ll help make it pretty definite 🙂
      But Oldman is right, I can’t help myself, Sister Grace could be going to grade my work, and there enough other faults without my adding to it!

  • But we have people flowing across our southern border from who knows where, thinking who knows what, carrying who knows what diseases or posessions [sic]…

    Great, another anti-immigration fanatic. Where did YOUR ancestors come from, Prendergast? If they weren’t Native American, then I accuse you of rank hypocrisy.

    • Great. Another open borders idiot who believes that everyone BUT hissef is corrupt.

      My ancestors came here legally, moron. They did not invade the country contrary to law. Most of us support legal immigration, which occurs at rates higher in the U.S. than anywhere in the world.

      • Generally when you show up with as many millions of ‘immigrants’ as we’ve seen since Reagan’s term you’ve got other plans….

        [Vichy French Governor]
        Monsieur Eisenhower, you have brought a million men into my country! I must ask what are your intentions Monsieur? Mon Dieu! You have no papers! No passports! And what are these, weapons?!!!!

        [Eisenhower]
        Oh, we’re just passing through Governor, we’re going to Germany to take a tour of the Third Reich.

        • [Vichy French Governor]
          I spit in the milk of your radiator! You and your pig army of Micky the Mouse must pay a toll for your passeage du France.

          We are quite ‘appy with our insect overlords who we have learned to love as fellow Europeans from the North. Have you not learned that no-thing is accomplished by military might, you short-jacketed American eater of le dogs hot?

          • And if you don’t agree to my toll!
            (ominous music)
            We shall be forced to surrender to you!

            (it’s okay for me not to like “the French”, I inherited it from my maternal non-immigrant wasp grandmother. Something to do appearently with her first husband 🙂 )

    • Well, JD., I can produce copies of the Prendergast and Lewis immigration and naturalization documentation if it will help you, as they emigrated just a bit over 100 years ago and didn’t become citizens until the 1930’s.
      On the other side, one confused Quebecois who served in the US Army in WWI though they never talked about him, damned papist that he was.
      There, three out of four of my grandparents WERE immigrants, citizens of some part of the British Empire or other in 1900 – two Canadians, one Irishman.

      On the sole “American” side of my grand parentage, is 1630 early enough to matter?

      I’m NOT against immigration, though it was nice of you to assume that.

      What I’m against is (look up this next word if you aren’t sure what it means) ILLEGAL Immigration.
      I’ll break it out so you can easily cut and paste it to the tool bar if you need to. That’s the correct spelling too.
      ILLEGAL.

      We can’t have anyone wandering across borders any time they want without notification or consent and still have an operational entity that is considered a country, and that’s just the way it is in what we call the real world. If for no other reason than because “Terrorists”.
      Why don’t you check out how Mexico handles ‘immigrants’ of the sort I described above when they catch them and aren’t routing them through to the US. It isn’t a 2 year in country stay waiting for a court appearance.

      Now, without your pardon, I’ll accuse you of being, at a minimum, presumptuous and rude.

    • Uncontrolled immigration is an insane policy to support.

    • Wait, wait – 2 years? you mean during 2012, when he was running for his second term against Mitt Romney?
      2 years ago when he told us Al Qaeda had ‘been decimated’?
      2 years ago when he told us we were safer than ever?
      2 years ago when ‘Big Sis’ told us the border has never been stronger?

      I just want to calibrate my hypocrisy meter, yet again.
      So, what “ooops?”
      Really?
      So now when they bring up “No WMD in Iraq”, we can say it’s okay, “ooooops”, W. didn’t have the intelligence?
      hot damn.

      • Captain Steven Hiller: [after reversing into the rear wall] Oops.

        David Levinson: W-what do you mean, oops?

        Captain Steven Hiller: Some jerk put this…

        [Turns the piece of paper round]

        Captain Steven Hiller: the wrong way round.

        David Levinson: Don’t say “oops”.

        Captain Steven Hiller: What do you say we try that again?

        David Levinson: Yes, yes. Yes. Without the “oops”.

    • Our threats are domestic. Obama solved foreign terrorism about 5 years ago.