HICE: U.S. Government Seeks Permission to Spy on American Citizens
The phrase “Big Brother” has been used in reference to the government’s attempts to control the lives of Americans for decades. Following 9/11, amid an outcry for greater security, a chilling and intrusive surveillance of citizens took an unprecedented uptick in individual monitoring across the nation. In the wake of tragedy and horror, politicians pushed through the Patriot Act in the name of terrorism deterrence.
The Patriot Act ushered in a new era, and America would never be the same so far as individual privacy is concerned. While the intentions of the legislation might have been good, the consequences of its enactment have invaded the privacy of millions of Americans. It essentially gave the government a free pass to spy on people in their homes and beyond. Without any previous notification requirements, federal intelligence agencies could examine and have unhindered exploration into the financial records, medical histories, travel patterns, and more of individuals.
As is often the case with unrestrained government power, the overreaching scrutiny produced by the Patriot Act is no longer enough. There is a new and disturbing movement to provide Big Brother even more access into your private life. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) has introduced the RESTRICT Act, formally known as “Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology” Act. This legislation would essentially expand the sentiments of the Patriot Act to the technology sphere, so that internet activity by citizens would be accessible to federal agents.
Thankfully, while there is a substantial bipartisan effort to block the use of TikTok in the United States over concerns about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) use of the platform, some Washington politicians are withholding their support for the RESTRICT Act. For example, Ohio Senator J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) recently told reporters that he is very worried about “creating, effectively, a PATRIOT Act for the digital age.”
He is correct. Once unbridled access is given to the government to monitor internet activity, personal privacy will be but a memory of America’s past. Moreover, allowing the government and federal agencies access to personal devices and advanced technology usage by individuals could very well lead to domestic espionage. Such meddling should never be allowed. While efforts to block foreign adversaries from spying on Americans and the U.S. government operations should be made, efforts cannot be allowed to permit our own government to violate people’s constitutional right to privacy.
At a time when even the most sacred branch of government, the judiciary, is being politicized, it is crucial to avoid further intrusion into the lives of Americans. The RESTRICT Act would allow the government to pursue any person it deems as a “national security risk.” To this day, some protestors from January 6th, 2021 are still sitting in jail, having been denied their legal rights under the law. And potentially, other individuals advocating for their right to justice could be labeled as “national security risks” and have their privacy stripped away as well.
The U.S. government is already too big and intrusive. Further, a two-tiered system of justice is increasingly becoming more apparent and alarming. Do we really need to bolster government with unfettered access into the private data of American citizens? No! Not only is the RESTRICT Act a terrible idea but it is unconstitutional. The First Amendment grants freedom of personal and private religious belief. The Third Amendment protects privacy in our homes. And the Fourth Amendment guarantees that 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.”
Make no mistake, Americans have a right to privacy! The government does not possess sufficient legal “interest” to invade the most personal aspects of people’s lives.
Ultimately, at risk with the RESTRICT Act is personal and constitutionally protected liberty. Congressional leaders need to hear from constituents about this invasive legislation. For the sake of defending our God-given rights, we should reject this egregious attempt by government to enter our personal space and monitor our private lives. If allowed to become law, this Act could produce a government-run and politically driven “terrorist” of its own making. Don’t let that happen!