Privacy, encryption vs. Surveillance state

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Michigan Supreme Court Creates Giant Loophole for Warrantless Surveillance​

Court Refuses to Decide if Repeated, Warrantless Drone Snooping Is a “Search,” Holds That Government Can Use the Evidence Anyway

ARLINGTON, Va.—On Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously ruled that even if the government deliberately violates your rights by flying a drone over your property, it can still use its unconstitutionally obtained evidence against you in court. The ruling, which concerns Long Lake Township’s repeated drone surveillance of Todd and Heather Maxon’s property in order to gather evidence against them, sets a devastating precedent that undermines the Fourth Amendment whenever the government goes after you in civil court. The Maxons were represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ).

“The Michigan Supreme Court blessed warrantless surveillance in the name of code enforcement,” said IJ Attorney Mike Greenberg. “Courts ordinarily order evidence from unconstitutional searches excluded, to disincentivize officials from violating our Fourth Amendment rights. The court’s holding creates a massive hole in that rule, removing that incentive for officials who pursue civil, rather than criminal, violations.”


The spirit of the Constitution, drafted by men who chafed against the heavy-handed tyranny of an imperial ruler, would suggest that one’s home is a fortress, safe from almost every kind of intrusion.

Unfortunately, a collective assault by the government’s cabal of legislators, litigators, judges and militarized police has all but succeeded in reducing that fortress—and the Fourth Amendment alongside it—to a crumbling pile of rubble.

We are no longer safe in our homes, not from the menace of a government and its army of Peeping Toms who are waging war on the last stronghold of privacy left to us as a free people.

The weapons of this particular war on the privacy and sanctity of our homes are being wielded by the government and its army of bureaucratized, corporatized, militarized mercenaries.

Government agents—with or without a warrant, with or without probable cause that criminal activity is afoot, and with or without the consent of the homeowner—are now justified in mounting virtual home invasions using surveillance technology—with or without the blessing of the courts—to invade one’s home with wiretaps, thermal imaging, surveillance cameras, aerial drones, and other monitoring devices.

Alaska high court rules against warrantless aerial police surveillance of private citizen

Alaska law enforcement agencies do not have the right to conduct aerial surveillance of private property with high powered telephoto technology without first obtaining a search warrant.

This was the March 8 ruling of the Alaska Supreme Court in the case, State of Alaska v. John William McKelvey.

Back in 2012 the Alaska State Troopers received a tip that McKelvey had a grow operation on his property located in rural Fairbanks. After initially flying over the property and taking photos with a telephoto lens, the Troopers then obtained a search warrant. The central issue in this case concerned the validity of the search warrant and whether the Troopers’ use of aerial photos violated the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Alaska Constitution’s rights to privacy and freedom from unreasonable searches.

According to the Alaska Supreme Court’s ruling, the State Constitution protects Alaskans from law enforcement aerial surveillance by requiring a warrant prior to taking pictures of private property from the sky.



Like privacy? Don't want a surveillance state? Well, here's a little food for thought.

A second Trump term would be a surveillance nightmare​

It’s darkly ironic that Donald Trump’s upcoming appearance at the Libertarian Party’s national convention was announced the same week his stunning interview with Time magazine was published, in which he indicated all the ways a potential second term would imperil our personal liberties.

Reading through the interview, I was struck by the scope of the surveillance state — and widespread intrusion into Americans’ personal lives — that will be required for Trump to accomplish his agenda.

Take immigration, for example. Trump said he would tap state police forces to aid a mass deportation plan that his advisers have said will involve rounding up most of the roughly 11 million undocumented people in the United States, holding them in camps along the southern border, and deporting them. Aside from the monumental resources that authorities would require to search for and apprehend that many people, it also stands to reason many of them, once apprehended, would be subjected to intense surveillance already deployed against people at risk for deportation, like ankle monitors and strict curfews.


You should post that in the "Good News" thread.
.....or do you enjoy your city being over run with foreign criminals?

There are only a handful of DC critters that care about the privacy and the surveillance state and most of them are in the GOP
Anyone paying attention already knows that.

That article is dumb to focus just on Trump. Is the author purporting that Biden would be any better?
It sure is dumb.

Is the author purporting that Biden would be any better? That's not supported by the track record of his current administration.
That's exactly what the author is saying. It's a hit piece on Trump, after all.

Michigan Supreme Court Creates Giant Loophole for Warrantless Surveillance
Another democrat run shithole, so what else should we expect?
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As the current leadership of the EU Council enters its final weeks, it is debating a dangerous proposal that could lead to scanning the private files of billions of people.

EFF strongly opposes this proposal, put forward by the Belgian Presidency at the EU Council, which is part of the EU’s executive branch. Together with European Digital Rights (EDRi) and other groups that defend encryption, we have sent an open letter to the EU Council explaining the dangers of the proposal. The letter asks Ministers in the Council of the EU to reject all proposals that are inconsistent with end-to-end encryption, including surveillance technologies like client-side scanning


As police departments look to expand their use of unmanned aerial aircraft, no agency has embraced the technology quite like the CVPD. A model for police departments around the United States, “some police officers joke that visiting the Chula Vista Police Department is like visiting Mecca,” says Jay Stanley, author of a 2023 American Civil Liberties Union report on police use of drones.

In October 2018, the city became the first in the nation to start a Drone as First Responder (DFR) program, where department teleoperators listening to live 911 calls decide when and where to dispatch the department's growing fleet of drones. Now those devices criss-cross the skies of Chula Vista daily—nearly 20,000 times since 2018—and are often first to appear above the sites of noise complaints, car accidents, overdoses, domestic disputes, and homicides.
Despite the police promoting the benefits of the DFR program, residents who encounter the technology day-to-day report feeling constantly watched. Some say they are afraid to spend time in their backyards; they fear that the machines are following them down the street, spying on them while they use the public pool or change their clothes. One resident says that he was so worried that the drones were harassing him that he went to the emergency room for severe depression and exhaustion.

The police drones, equipped with cameras and zoom lenses powerful enough to capture faces clearly and constantly recording while in flight, have amassed hundreds of hours of video footage of the city’s residents. Their flight paths routinely take them over backyards and above public pools, high schools, hospitals, churches, mosques, immigration law firms, and even the city’s Planned Parenthood facility. Privacy advocates argue that the extensive footage captured by the drones makes it difficult to distinguish between flights responding to specific incidents and mass surveillance from the sky. Department secrecy around the recordings remains the subject of ongoing litigation.



In March, the Alaska Supreme Court held in State v. McKelvey that the Alaska Constitution required law enforcement to obtain a warrant before photographing a private backyard from an aircraft. In this case, the police took photographs of Mr. McKelvey’s property, including the constitutionally protected curtilage area, from a small aircraft using a zoom lens.

In arguing that Mr. McKelvey did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, the government raised various factors which have been used to justify warrantless surveillance in other jurisdictions. These included the ubiquity of small aircrafts flying overhead in Alaska; the commercial availability of the camera and lens; the availability of aerial footage of the land elsewhere; and the alleged unobtrusive nature of the surveillance.

In response, the Court divorced the ubiquity and availability of the technology from whether people would reasonably expect the government to use it to spy on them. The Court observed that the fact the government spent resources to take photos demonstrates that whatever available images were insufficient for law enforcement needs. Also, the inability or unlikelihood the spying was detected adds to, not detracts from, its pernicious nature because “if the surveillance technique cannot be detected, then one can never fully protect against being surveilled.”

Throughout its analysis, the Alaska Supreme Court demonstrated a grounded understanding of modern technology—as well as its future—and its effect on privacy rights. At the outset, the Court pointed out that one might think that this warrantless aerial surveillance was not a significant threat to privacy rights because "aviation gas is expensive, officers are busy, and the likelihood of detecting criminal activity with indiscriminate surveillance flights is low." However, the Court added pointedly, “the rise of drones has the potential to change that equation." We made similar arguments and are glad to see that courts are taking the threat seriously.

This is a significant victory for Alaskans and their privacy rights, and stands in contrast to a couple of U.S. Supreme Court cases from the 1980s, Ciraolo v. California and Florida v. Riley. In those cases, the justices found no violation of the federal constitution for aerial surveillance from low-flying manned aircrafts. But there have been seismic changes in the capabilities of surveillance technology since those decisions, and courts should consider these developments rather than merely applying precedents uncritically.

With this decision, Alaska joins California, Hawaii, and Vermont in finding that warrantless aerial surveillance violates their state’s constitutional prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure. Other courts should follow suit to ensure that privacy rights do not fall victim to the advancement of technology.

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