Things That Are Immune to Warrants

Posted Monday, April 4th, 2016 at 9:38 am

The US government, in the persons of the FBI and Department of Justice, has been claiming that new levels of iPhone encryption turn those phones into “warrant-proof” zones, and that shouldn’t be allowed. But in that case, we have to make sure nothing else is a warrant-proof zone, either. Which means all of these things:

  • The contents of a piece of paper that you ran through a shredder. The entire shredder industry is built around just one thing: putting printed documents forever beyond the reach of any warrant.
  • The things you said to your friend in a room with a Nest or Echo device a couple of nights ago. All of these things need to record everything said near them for up to 6 months, in case the government needs to subpoena that information.
  • The things you said to your friend in a room that doesn’t have any such device. We’ll need to install government listening devices in all rooms. Yes, including the bathroom — if the terrorists know bathrooms are exempt from warrant searches, they’ll just do all their planning there.
  • The things you drew or wrote on a piece of paper in that room with the listening device. It can listen, but it can’t watch. So if you just write out your dastardly plans, then burn the paper afterward, the government can never get that information, even with a lawful warrant.
  • Say, speaking of “burning the paper afterward”… hmmm, shredders aren’t the only thing that can destroy paper. Can we outlaw lighters? Barbecue grills?
  • Where you drove in a car that doesn’t have OnStar or a LoJack device. By current intelligence community standards “where you drove” is practically metadata anyway (compared to things like what you did there or why you went there), so it shouldn’t even require a warrant to get to![1] But if there’s no OnStar, LoJack, or GPS-transmitting device on your car, then that information is forever beyond law enforcement’s grasp. (Naturally, this will need to include rental cars, car-share services, and taxis, as well as rental trucks like U-Hauls and so on.)
  • What you said in the car. When we were installing bugs in every room of every building, we forgot to include all the vehicles…
  • Oh, Gods, pictures again?! Better make sure those in-car monitoring devices have video, of course. If the terrorists realize they can make secret plans by sitting in a car and making sketches, all our lives could be at risk!
  • You know, back during the Cold War, spies knew one of the best ways to avoid monitoring was to meet on a bench in a park, out in the open, away from anyone who might listen in. If you selected a bench more-or-less at random, nobody would know to have placed a bug on it in advance. But now that we want there to be no place and nothing that’s “warrant proof”, the only solution is to plant a tiny listening device on every park bench, everywhere.

You know what is immune to warrants? Most of reality. And law enforcement has gotten along just fine with that. The desire of law enforcement to be able to spy on absolutely everything is understandable — but it’s something we should push back against, with all our might as citizens of a free society.

Because what the FBI and DOJ are asking for is an Orwellian police state.

When you hear “oh noes, immune to warrants!” look at what the endgame is. And fight back.

[1] Note: I’m not saying I agree with this argument, just that it’s one I could easily see pro-surveillance types making. With a straight face. ↑↑

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