Reason Writers Around Town: Block Big Brother’s Internet Snoops

Reason Foundation Policy Analyst Steven Titch writing in today's Washington Times

Americans are moving more and more of our personal data onto the Internet. We send and save emails through Hotmail and Gmail. We share photos with Flickr and post videos on YouTube. We set up everything from our calendars to video rentals so they can be managed remotely from our cellphones and multiple computers.

What most Americans don’t realize is that if the government wants to read your emails, look at your pictures or gain access to any data that you have stored online for more than 180 days on sites including Yahoo! Google Docs and online backup sites, it can do so without a search warrant. Data saved online is not protected by the Fourth Amendment in the same way that information is protected if it is stored on a home computer, CD or detachable hard drive.

A new bill introduced by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, is a good step toward closing this huge loophole.

Full column here.

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  • anarch||

    Leave a comment?

    Are you kidding?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Why does Reason hate Big Brother?

  • ||

    Good to see Reason's drama queen habits are continuing this morning. Big Brother? Really?

    If you're uploading documents with potentially damaging information in them to Google Docs, you're so stupid as to deserve whatever happens to you.

  • ||

    Thread Winner!!

  • MNG||

    Ah, the age-old conservative refrain:

    "what do you have to hide?"

  • ||

    The reason that refrain is fallacious is because everyone has something to hide, even those who have never broken the law.

    But my point is that you shouldn't be posting things that you want hidden to Google Docs and Facebook. That should be common sense.

  • Mo||

    This isn't just about google docs and Facebook, it's about all online backup services. It's wise to have online backups of important documents to have geographic diversification*. This policy makes it so that you can't do that without risking a warrantless search.

    * that backup hard drive won't do you any good if you house catches on fire.

  • ||

    ""This isn't just about google docs and Facebook, it's about all online backup services.""

    Many companies use online backup services too. So the amount of databases that could be involved is huge.

    Also, Google gathers a lot of data. If IIRC, Goggle bought WebMD, and WebMD also had a medical billing clearinghouse so Google now holds some people's medical billing info which includes diagnosis and procedure info.

    What I find amazing is how so few on H&R care unless it involves firearms.

  • ||

    My point about Google is that they hold information that wasn't given directly to them by an individual. So it's not as simple as "you shouldn't be posting things that you want hidden to Google Docs ".

    I do agree that you should be careful what you put on the Interent.

  • Oregon Letter Carrier||

    everyone has something to hide

    I don't!

  • ||

    that makes a lot of sense dude.

    www.real-privacy.int.tc

  • Mr. Mark||

    I'm pretty sure that the scum-sucking bastards read our stuff right now (or at least mine, anyway). That's why I'm so careful not to say anything inflammatory or provoking - no matter how much I suspect that your typical detective or law enforcement computer technician is probably a child molester with a fondness for sex with animals, an Oedipus complex, and a feeling of inadequacy from an undersized anatomical endowment. I would NEVER say anything like that.

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