Fourth Amendment rights threatened

Posted9/9/2019 1:00 AM

President Donald Trump wants to reauthorize Section 215 of the U.S. Patriot Act giving the NSA powers to eavesdrop on personal data of both protesters and minorities without court approved warrants. This personal data includes: phone calls, emails, smartphone data, photos, social media, cloud storage and account's log in location. Some personal data known as metadata shows: who created the file, date, time, size of the file or image resolution.

Originally, Section 215 was authorized to eavesdrop on Americans, immigrants and foreigners in the U.S. either directly or indirectly linked to terrorist activity without obtaining a warrant after 9/11. The Patriot Act authorized by President Bush a month after 9/11 expanded search and surveillance powers of both federal law-enforcement and intelligence agencies.


But the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act imposes limits on how intelligence is gathered in the U.S. All intelligence officials have to do in order to obtain a surveillance warrant is show probable cause that someone might be an agent of a foreign power, including a terrorist group. This can be done through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The FISC was set up after widespread abuses of American intelligence agencies on both anti-war and civil rights activists during the '70s. These abuses led to the passage of the FISA.

But the FISC also stated that national security interests should not overlook the Fourth Amendment. This Amendment protects the rights of the people from both unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the U.S. government. And the Fourth Amendment adds that no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause. It now remains to be seen whether Trump will uphold our Fourth Amendment rights?

Abrar Qureshi


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