Nuggets of Wisdom

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bill To Require Warrant For Phone Record Seizures

Here's some good news, especially in light of the AP phone record scandal: a bill has been introduced that would require federal agents to obtain a court order before seizing phone records:
Currently, the Telephone Records Act allows the feds to demand phone records from service providers by using only an administrative subpoena to obtain basic subscriber information. Basic subscriber information can include a customer’s name, address, credit card number, and phone records.

The Telephone Records Protection Act consists of just one sentence amending that law (.pdf) and would force federal agencies to seek judicial review to obtain records in order to avoid a situation like the one that recently happened with the Associated Press.

The bill would protect the phone records of all Americans, not just journalists, and would require federal agencies to state “specific and articulable facts” to prove to a court that the records and information being sought is “relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation."
Now I hate to be a Debbie-Downer, but let's be honest: as good as this bill sounds, does it actually stand a chance of being passed?

In the words of Big Macintosh, "Nope!"

It should surprise no one if this bill doesn't pass, which it probably won't. The state only exists to retain and expand its power. It would be against its own interest to limit it, which is why any attempt to do so will be futile.

The state wields the sole privilege in society of using force and coercion. It holds the monopoly on power, and as such, exists only to serve the powerful over the powerless.

I know that's not exactly an optimistic view, but considering history, both past and recent, it's sadly the most realistic one.