The Fifth Circuit Court just ruled that the state can collect all of the location history data from your cellular phone without a warrant, and they can compel service providers, through the threat of force, to hand over that data without needing any probable cause.
The court decreed:
“We are called on to decide whether court orders authorized by the Stored Communications Act to compel cell phone service providers to produce the historical cell site information of their subscribers are per se unconstitutional. We hold that they are not.”
The basis for this absurd ruling comes from the fact that cellular location data is a business record. The court notes that:
“[T]he individual must occasionally transact business with other people. When he does so, he leaves behind, as evidence of his activity, the records and recollections of others. He cannot expect that these activities are his private affair.”
Apparently all third party business records are not protected by the U.S. Constitution. This is news to me. I always thought that the whole purpose of the 4th amendment was to expressly protect business records. I mean, what other kinds of records would the state ever be interested in? Birthday cards from your mom?
Just so you are aware, the cellphone in your pocket repeatedly pings the closest cellular tower throughout the day. This pinging of cellular towers is logged, allowing for a general fix on the location of your phone throughout the day. Cellular providers use this information to help route your calls. Further, some service providers go a step beyond that. Location based services on your phone can utilize precise GPS coordinates, which are also logged by various services.
If you did not know that, then you just refuted the state’s logic for justifying this collection of data about you. The state argues that because you already knew this data was being collected, you volunteered that information, which then allows the state to collect it from the provider by force of arms. – That’s some logic they got going on there.
It’s important to note that this ruling can be used as the basis for the collection of virtually everything every business ever collects about you. Read that quote from the ruling again. If the state decides that some piece of data exists for the purposes of a business transaction, the state can compel that business to fork over the data without needing a warrant.
I find the “compel” part of this ruling to be particularly heinous. It’s one thing if the state asks a business to hand over the data it has on you, and then the business does so voluntarily. However, it’s an entirely different animal when the state can threaten a business with violence in order to obtain data about you, without needing a warrant to do so.
To me, this seems like a direct violation of a business owner’s rights. I don’t understand why a private business isn’t afforded the same protections as a state bureaucracy. Well… that’s not really true. I’m just using that statement as a rhetorical device. Obviously the state is a criminal institution, so it would be ridiculous to expect criminals to hold themselves to the same standards that they hold everyone else to.
Imagine if you, as a private citizen, were to collect the location data for all of the politicians’ phones. “Senator Bubblehead, I see you spent quite a bit of time visiting the Spearmint Rhino cabaret recently. Does your wife know where you were last Saturday night?” Of course, if you did that, you’d be thrown in a cage for decades.
This behavior is typical of the state. The state can steal from you (taxes, eminent domain, asset forfeiture), but you can’t steal from anyone. The state can compel you to kill on its behalf (conscription), but you can’t kill anyone. The state can spy on you (warrantless wiretapping), but you cannot spy on anyone. The state can use force to control your property (business regulations, permits, zoning laws), but you cannot use force to control anyone else’s property. The state can force you into slavery (conscription, taxes, fines), but you can’t own slaves. The state can kidnap and torture you (indefinite detention, water-boarding, solitary confinement), but you cannot kidnap or torture anyone.
I could keep extending that list for hours. The state’s existence is predicated on the inversion of moral principles. The state has no morals. It is a criminal institution no different than any other mafia. The public has convinced itself that it is better to be ruled by a mafia they elect than a mafia that is imposed. I find it interesting that most of the public cannot even conceive of not being ruled by any mafia at all.
Professor Robert Higgs recently gave a talk about this dangerous state of affairs. In his lecture, he notes that the wholesale destruction and havoc a state can unleash is orders of magnitude greater than any private individuals could ever accomplish on their own. He argues that the very existence of the state threatens the existence of civilization. Contrary to what you were taught in public school, the state is the antithesis of civilization. It is barbarism taken to the extreme. The state is nothing but force and brutality, operating at the behest of the mob and special interest groups.