After the interview that Edward Snowden did with NBC last week, the issue of domestic spying is back in the news.
Of course, whenever I talk to people who aren’t politically active about this topic they usually have the same response: “I don’t have anything to hide. So what’s the big deal?”
The perception that you don’t need to worry about domestic spying as long as you “don’t have anything to hide” is why every American needs to see this clip from the Snowden interview:
What he’s saying here is that there is no such thing as “having nothing to hide.” Every piece of information the NSA collects is valuable to them. Even something as innocent as checking the score of a hockey game.
When we allow the government to collect information about the private lives of citizens, that gives our politicians an extraordinary amount of power over you and every other American. If we ever make the mistake of electing people who want to use that information against you they will have everything they need to destroy your life.
That’s why you need to understand how the Fourth Amendment protects you from bad people in the government. When it comes to something like this amendment, just keep it simple. Don’t let yourself get distracted or confused by the technology involved. Instead, stay focused on the principles.
Recently, I did a Constitution Revolution segment for The Chris Salcedo Show (which you can hear on TheBlaze Radio every Saturday noon to 3 p.m. ET) about exactly this topic. Here is the clip:
So if a British soldier wanted to go into your house for whatever reason, all he had to do was issue himself a general warrant. Once he did that, he had the authority to go into your home and go through everything you own even if you weren’t suspected of committing a crime. Once that soldier was in your home, just imagine all of the trouble he could cause even if you were completely innocent.
The Fourth Amendment was intended to prevent that type of broad fishing expedition where government officials intrude into your personal lives in hopes of finding evidence of a crime.
But what is the NSA doing today?
It’s conducting broad searches and collections of your private internet and phone activity even if you aren’t suspected of a crime. The fact that they are doing this on the internet is completely irrelevant. All that matters is that the government is searching through and collecting your private property without a proper warrant.
The principle here is that you as a citizen have a right to be secure in your private papers and effects. It makes no difference if you keep those papers as written letters in your closet or as e-mails saved on your hard drive – the government has absolutely no business searching them without probable cause.
The Fourth Amendment wasn’t ratified because the Founders were concerned that a specific type of property might be searched. The idea was to prevent the government from invading the lives of citizens with broad, non-specific searches. That principle applies regardless of whether they want to search our closets, our mailboxes, or our e-mail boxes.
Fortunately, the Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from searching any of those aspects of our lives. All we have to do is apply it.
Chad Kent is an author and speaker with a unique style that makes the Constitution simple and fun. Listen to Chad every Saturday during The Chris Salcedo Show on TheBlaze Radio and visit his web site.
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