The Left freaked out over revelations this past week that a data analytics company employed Facebook user information to (gasp!) help its presidential candidate.
Now, in the age of the Internet, this shouldn’t be any surprise; campaigns have long shifted away from the “traditional” means of engaging voters primarily through direct-mail campaigns and newspapers.
But since this company was founded by mega-billionaire and Republican donor Robert Mercer, and since the firm, Cambridge Analytics, was working on behalf of Donald J. Trump, well, then, it’s dirty, underhanded, sneaky, and at the same time brilliant.
The Left, then, has gone from characterizing Trump as a boob, an idiot, a numbskull, and unintelligent to a data-mining political mastermind who plotted for years with Mercer (and the Russians) to outfox Democrats and Hillary Clinton.
And if you believe that, I’ve got some oceanfront property in Wyoming to sell you.
What the Left (and the Right and everyone in the middle) ought to be more concerned about is data-mining king Google and how the tech company is getting in bed with the Nanny State to violate what’s left of our privacy rights.
As reported by WRAL, Raleigh, North Carolina police are now ‘quietly’ turning to Google as a means of enlisting the tech behemoth to find suspects.
Working two separate murder cases, police managed to convince “a Wake County judge they had enough probable cause to order Google to hand over account identifiers on every single cell phone that crossed the digital cordon during certain times.”
The TV station reported further:
In at least four investigations last year – cases of murder, sexual battery and even possible arson at the massive downtown fire in March 2017 – Raleigh police used search warrants to demand Google accounts not of specific suspects, but from any mobile devices that veered too close to the scene of a crime, according to a WRAL News review of court records. These warrants often prevent the technology giant for months from disclosing information about the searches not just to potential suspects, but to any users swept up in the search.
So not only are police forcing Google to reveal private information on innocent people, they won’t even allow the tech giant to inform users when their data has been turned over to authorities. (Related: Google employees plotted with Antifa terror groups to wage violent revolution to overthrow President Trump.)
Cops are covering this blatant abuse of privacy rights by claiming everything is really okay because, you know, they’re getting search warrants. Oh, and this is just the natural evolution of police investigations in the digital age.
But the Fourth Amendment’s language hasn’t changed and there have been no new amendments repealing any part of it. Specifically, the amendment protects Americans against “unreasonable searches and seizures” while noting that “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause…particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons and things to be seized.”
Police appear to be leaving out key provisions of the amendment and worse, courts appear not to be interested in upholding them — namely the specifics about who is going to be searched and what is going to be seized.
The Constitution isn’t a suggestion or a hint, it lays out hard-and-fast, inviolable rights.
As you might suspect, defense lawyers and civil libertarians in North Carolina and abroad are not buying this new investigatory technique:
They’re mixed on how law enforcement turns to Google’s massive cache of user data, especially without a clear target in mind. And they’re concerned about the potential to snag innocent users, many of whom might not know just how closely the company tracks their every move.
“We are willingly sharing an awful lot of our lives with Google,” Jonathan Jones, a former Durham prosecutor who directs the North Carolina Open Government Coalition at Elon University, told WRAL. “But do people understand that in sharing that information with Google, they’re also potentially sharing it with law enforcement?”
I’d say the answer is no.
We don’t need to rewrite the Constitution. We need to reread it.
J.D. Heyes is also editor-in-chief of The National Sentinel.
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