Search Me

I knew about the FBI “National Security Memos” which allow the Bureau to request information without a warrant from a variety of companies, from my bank to the dealership where I bought my car.

I didn’t know the police were given the power to enter and search my house without letting me know:

One portion of the Patriot Act that does not expire lets police surreptitiously enter and search a home or office without notifying the owner. That has reportedly been invoked 108 times during a 22-month period stretching from October 2001 through April 2003.

“Delayed-notification search warrants are used in a wide spectrum of criminal investigations, including those involving terrorism and drugs,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “Like any other search warrant, delayed-notification warrants under section 213 may only be issued after showing probable cause and obtaining the express approval of a judge.”

Section 213 of the Patriot Act authorizes so-called sneak-and-peek entries in cases where alerting someone that a surreptitious search took place may have an “adverse result” on a police investigation. Eventually the owner of the home or office is supposed to be notified, though the law says that deadline can be “extended” without limit if police make a good case for it.
Even though the Patriot Act was enacted as a response to the threat of terrorism, Section 213’s powers are not limited to investigations of terrorists or spies. Instead, sneak-and-peak searches may be used to investigate any federal felony or misdemeanor, from firearms violations to marijuana possession and copyright infringement.

Copyright infringement?

What’s almost as scary as the police powers in the Patriot Act was the reaction of my co-workers at the office: “If you don’t have anything to hide, you don’t have anything to worry about.”


3 responses to “Search Me

  1. WEll, they still need a warrant, and I can see in cases where they are investigating a terrorist group/cell, the need to search their base of operations (a home) withou tipping off the cell the cops are on to them. Yes, it can be used in cases of copyright infringement, but when that actually does happen, then I will lead the charge crying “Abuse of power”.

    And if I don’t have anything to hide, then the police shouldn’t have reason to get a warrant and thus I have nothing to worry about.

  2. You would think so, wouldn’t you? While I understand that terrorists don’t play by the rules, when this portion of the PATRIOT Act is taken in context with the TIPS program that was proposed a couple of years ago, which encouraged private citizens to spy on their neighbors, it’s worrisome.

  3. One more thing: Think about the loophole the “copyright infringement” justification leaves the police. Good night! That could include downloading music, taping my favorite TV show, or quoting significant portions of news items without…proper attribution…


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