Warrantless Government Surveillance

The Fourth Amendment – “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, papers, houses, and effects against unreasonable search and seizure, 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.”

Let’s analyze this a bit.

Four things are specifically mentioned as things the people have the right to be secure in:

their persons – this refers to the physical body of each individual, therefore this refers to a physical search of what a person has in their direct possession, on their body.

their papers – this refers to all of the documents of an individual. With the advent of digital technology, i.e. “going paperless,” most modern documents are in fact digital and not papers. Any assumption that the right to be secure in papers does not apply to digital documents assumes that natural rights are subject to technology and not to the principle of natural rights themselves. Of course, digital documents are also protected.

their houses – this refers to the physical dwelling place of an individual and all of its contents.

their effects – this refers to all of a person’s belongings that may not happen to be contained in their persons, papers, or houses. Or, all of a person’s belongings.

Government surveillance, to be in compliance with this law, must only be conducted when ALL the following conditions are met with certainty.

1- Probable cause exists on an individual basis.

2- A warrant has been sworn to by a judge based on that probable cause.

3- The warrant specifically mentions what evidence is being sought by the surveillance.

Now let’s look at how the words “unreasonable search and seizure” might apply to the practice of government surveillance.

Unreasonable, simply means a search or seizure without a stated or legal reason. A warrant provides that stated, legal reason.

Therefore it should be obvious to anyone who respects individual liberties that warrant-less government surveillance is without question a serious violation of the 4th Amendment and should be prosecuted by the people as a crime against them.