Our elected leaders are taking advantage of our apathy.
The Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights or the United States of America, ratified in 1791, states 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.”
Yet today, in our digital world, the fourth amendment means very little.
Before computers and the advent of the internet, If a law enforcement agency wanted to to gather details about your life, they’d secure a search warrant because the fourth Amendment protected your right to privacy. To obtain this warrant, law enforcement personnel would have to convince a judge that they had “probable cause” to search your home or wiretap your phone.
In our world today, a world where we store a great deal of our personal information in the cloud (on dropbox, in our inboxes, etc) our personal privacy has become compromised by a serious of poorly thought out court rulings that have essentially declared that anything stored in the cloud, is not truly “private.”
In the governments eyes, when you send an email, you’re sharing it with your internet provider.
When you talk on your cellphone, your sharing your location with the cellular company. When you search the web, your sharing that information with the Search Engine. When you store a file in Dropbox, your sharing that file with Dropbox. All of this and more has somehow lost it’s constitutional protection and the worst part is…you and I let it happen.
Today, the government and law enforcement agencies can gain access to all of the aforementioned information and more without the need to show you’re involved in suspicious or illegal activity.
In our world today, law enforcement agencies are able to find the most intimate details about our lives, information that we used to safely store only in our homes, without a warrant or probable cause. All of your private records are available to them and all they have to do is request it from the corporations who are supposed to be safely storing it in the cloud.
The very premise of the idea that we don’t “own” the documents that we store in the cloud or that they’re not “truly private” because they stored on servers is one of the most preposterous ideas I’ve ever heard. Why have we accepted this to be the case? When you store files on a web server or anywhere in the cloud, you’re renting that space! We own those 100GB of Dropbox space! How is that different from renting a house instead of owning a house? What if one day the courts ruled that law enforcement no longer needed a warrant to search your home because you don’t own it, you simply rent it?
When you create a private account with a internet company, you’re given a certain amount of space.
The footer of my Gmail account tells me I’m currently using 1.92 GB (12%) of the 15 GB allotted to me. I could always upgrade and pay for more space but for now those 15 GB are fine. I have a private account with Google with a private password, privacy settings and I’ve agreed to their terms and conditions. I’m trusting Google with my information and as result they’ve given me 15 GB of space. I don’t know about you but I store a lot of personal information in my email. How is that any different from the personal mail I receive at home that I store in my personal files? Why should my email not be protected from “unreasonable searches and seizures” like my snail mail?
Somehow, someway, we’ve lost the protections afforded to us in the Constitution of the United States and it happened while we all nodded our heads and assumed our information was safe in the cloud. It should be – but it’s not.
The Declaration of Independence reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Liberty is the word I want you to focus on. Liberty is defined as “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on ones way of life, behavior, or political views.”
Our way on life in 2013 is a lot different than the way it was when Thomas Jefferson drafted the declaration of independence but our basic principles and values are the same.
Today we spend a lot of time on this amazing thing called the internet and thanks to technological innovations, most of our life is paperless! Information we once stored in our homes, we now store in the cloud. It’s time that the protections afforded to us by the Bill of Rights be extended to reflect these societal changes and once again guarantee us the right to privacy.
It’s time to get pissed off about internet privacy. Will you join me?
This post was written by Jordan Fried. Jordan is an entrepreneur who specializes in disruptive online marketing and software. He blogs about startup companies, online marketing, and VPN software at JordanFried.com. You can also follow Jordan on twitter @JordanFried
Image Credit: www.branchtoon.com