Is Your Cell Phone Private?
California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a bill authorizing warrantless cell phone searches. The Michigan State Police also extract cell phone data, although they deny ACLU allegations that they do it routinely at traffic stops. Even if this is so, the ability to extract the data means that it may happen, as power tends to be abused, eventually, by those long in possession of it, especially if no check or balance exists.
Things like this happen because no one objects. Most Americans are ‘residents’ more so than they are ‘citizens.’ Citizenship implies an active exercise of civic duty. That includes keeping an eye on our servant – government – and asking questions about the actions that the people in government take when acting ostensibly on our behalf. That means that local board seats – zoning, planning, parks, police commission, et cetera – should not go unfilled; rather, there ought to be more candidates for each vacancy than can be accommodated. Vacant seats on local boards send a message to local officials: No one is watching. They imply consent. The same applies for county boards. Low voter turnout and elections where candidates run unopposed say as much: we’re not watching, or we’re satisfied, or we simply don’t care very much. Such an atmosphere invites the exercise of unchecked power as the holders thereof see fit.
Tea Parties and ‘Occupy Wall Street’ are fine, as far as expressions of dissatisfaction go. What remains to be seen is in such dissatisfaction has the staying power to transmute itself into sustained action in redress of the grievances that birthed them. The Tea parties influenced the 2010 election cycle; OWS is too new for its’ impact to be known. What can be deduced is that both groups have primarily economic concerns, and that civil liberties are not top-list concerns of theirs. Until concerted action emerges, either in the form of group protest or spontaneous, individual action, en masse, to enter government at its’ humblest level to act in accordance with the precepts of limited, Constitutional government, we will not see change, just more of this – the relentless chipping away by all levels of government at our remaining freedoms.