The Past and the Future: Taking the 4th Amendment Online

Posted by on Sep 12, 2013

The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from warrantless searches and seizure of private property. Many civil libertarians and others across the political spectrum consider this to be one of the most important elements to the Bill of Rights. Privacy advocates have invoked the 4th Amendment in a campaign to take citizen privacy rights online for the digital age. The amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, 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.” Unfortunately, news of the NSA’s continued PRISM program has eradicated the public’s trust in government and reveals just how flagrantly organizations like the NSA disregard citizens’ constitutional rights. But as the legal war for online privacy rages on, be sure to protect your data and identity in the meantime by exclusively storing and syncing with a secure cloud service.

Fourth Amendment Rights

Legislators are divided as to what should be done, if anything, regarding PRISM. According to Representative Peter King (R – New York), “This is a legitimate role of government, and when we’re talking about life and death, and having lived in New York through 9/11 I know what life and death means. We cannot afford to have this become a debating society. We need decisions made quickly, yes or no, up or down, because lives are at stake.” But such aggressive attempts to curb debate only frustrate online users and create even more cause for distrust.

Former governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson recently launched an aggressive attack on such systemic breaches of citizen digital privacy, saying to New Mexico Watchdog, “My blood’s boiling and I want to keep awareness of this at a heightened level. Maybe we can get more disclosures out of this, maybe we’ll get Congress demanding more. What we’re really concerned with is the Fourth Amendment and due process,” Johnson said. “Where is the due process? Who is looking over law enforcement’s shoulder? Who is looking over the NSA’s shoulder? … This is the libertarian cause right here. Libertarians have been out there sounding the warning bell about this issue ever the Patriot Act was signed.” And Johnson is right as this push for greater transparency and constitutionality has garnered large support, unifying parties that are otherwise fiercely at odds.

Gary Johnson

Despite the public backlash, governmental institutions and courts seem to think that business as usual will suffice. Recently, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of law enforcement agencies to seize private cellphone location data from service providers without a warrant. Because such digital records have been deemed as “clearly a business record” the courts claim that no Fourth Amendment protections are in order. However, this is disingenuous at best. Warrantless tracking of car location is still protected under the Fourth Amendment, even if the car in question is driven strictly as “a business”. So it is obvious that the court’s logic doesn’t hold water. As Orin Kerr of George Washington University Law School says, “The opinion is clear that the government can access cell site records without Fourth Amendment oversight.” This sets a dangerous precedent that has gotten privacy advocates up in arms all across the digital world. According to ACLU lawyer Catherine Crump, “ This decision is a big deal. It’s a big deal and a big blow to Americans’ privacy rights.”

MIT’s Immersion

To see some of the information that the government has on you, check out Immersion. This new tool taps the cloud to analyze big data for an understanding on what relationships your Gmail account reveals. And that’s just part of what the NSA can see with their notorious PRISM program. Instead of waiting on the government to update its dated privacy policies, it’s time to proactively safeguard your data from legal snoops. One of the best and easiest ways to do that is through a secure cloud service that protects data and shields your identity.

A Secure Cloud Solution

For most users, finding a truly protected third party cloud service can be a challenge as many “secure” services on the market have security gaps that leave data and private info wide open to third party attacks, leaks, or hacking. One cloud storage and sync service that sets itself apart from the rest of the market is SpiderOak. This service provides users with fully private cloud storage and syncing, featuring all of the benefits of the cloud along with 100% data privacy. SpiderOak is available with onsite deployment and private servers or outsourced deployment through a private and secured public cloud server, so that users can tailor the service to fit their needs.

SpiderOak protects sensitive user data with 256-bit AES encryption so that photos, files, and passwords stay private. Authorized accounts and network devices can store and sync sensitive data with complete privacy, because this cloud service has absolutely “zero-knowledge” of user passwords or data. And all plaintext encryption keys are exclusively stored on approved devices because SpiderOak never hosts any plaintext data. This way, even if programs like NSA’s PRISM continue to stand unchallenged, people can rest easy knowing that their data is truly protected. SpiderOak’s cross-platform private cloud services are available for users on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, allowing for full flexibility and mobile access.

Leave a Reply