If the Government Spied on You, How Would You Know?

How would you know if the federal government had been electronically spying on you? Short answer: You probably wouldn’t.

Today, the ACLU sued the Justice Department to find out more about the circumstances under which the government thinks it can spy on Americans without telling them. This challenge seeks important information about a spying statute whose renewal is currently up for debate in Congress.

The answer to the question above should be simple: When the government invades your privacy — whether by searching your home, your car, your emails, or anything else — it should give you notice of that intrusion unless it has a compelling reason for delay. You see it on television all the time: When the police search a house, they show a warrant or leave one behind at the scene. The individual whose privacy is at stake knows there was a search and what was taken. This isn’t just to amp up drama — it’s a constitutional requirement.

Call For Surveillance Reform 

If the government never told you that it had spied on you, you’d never be able to challenge the search or stop it from happening again. You’d be stuck essentially having to trust that if the government searched your emails or other belongings, it had good reason to and was acting lawfully.

It’s worth noting, however, that the federal government has a long history of abusing its surveillance powers. And as the amount of digital data has expanded, the amount of surveillance has exploded, too. So has the secrecy and the absence of accountability surrounding electronic searches. These searches are conducted under various laws, but they have one thing in common: Individuals rarely find out that their private emails, internet chats, or documents stored in the cloud have been searched. (Some companies strive to inform their customers when the government demands private data, but very often the companies that receive these demands are gagged from saying anything.)

One example of this notice problem involves Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — a controversial spying law scheduled to expire in December. Under Section 702, the government secretly obtains hundreds of millions of communications each year — including countless emails and phone calls involving Americans — all without a warrant. Yet the government is required to tell individuals that it has spied on them under Section 702 only in very limited circumstances: when the government intends to use evidence that was gathered with the help of such a search in a criminal trial or other legal proceeding.

The vast majority of Americans surveilled under Section 702 will never be criminally prosecuted, so they will never know that the government has been secretly watching them. And without definitive proof that the government spied on them, individuals have an incredibly difficult time challenging the government’s spying in court.

While those who are eventually charged and brought to trial are supposed to have a chance to challenge the government’s surveillance, only a handful of criminal defendants have ever received notice as the statute requires. It’s unlikely that the government isn’t using evidence obtained with the help of Section 702 in criminal investigations and prosecutions. For example, the FBI has said that it routinely combs through its vast Section 702 databases when conducting both national security and ordinary criminal investigations.

The problem may be, instead, that the government is interpreting its duty to give notice far too narrowly — in order to avoid disclosing the spying in criminal cases. We’ve seen this kind of problem before. For five years up until 2013, the Justice Department unlawfully withheld notice of Section 702 surveillance from criminal defendants in every single case. The government eventually changed its notice policy under public pressure. But its new policy remains secret to this day, meaning neither the public nor courts can tell whether the government is providing notice as the law requires.

That brings us to our new FOIA lawsuit. The Justice Department confirmed in response to a FOIA request filed by the ACLU that, late last year, it distributed a 31-page memorandum describing its new policy — which affects both criminal and foreign-intelligence wiretaps — to federal prosecutors. The government, however, refused to release any portion of this memorandum. So we’re suing to get it.

It’s all the more important for the public to know how the government is providing notice of its spying activities because Section 702 of FISA is set to expire this year. As Congress debates whether to reauthorize the statute, information about how the Justice Department interprets its legal obligations is necessary for Congress and the public to have an informed debate about the merits of the law.

For that, it would help to know if the government is obeying it.

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Anonymous

Thanks for this article and your FOIA lawsuit. Those being spied on have a right to know.

Check out the following site:

https://fightgangstalking.com

It needs to stop.

LD Martin

I'm already a victim of the intelligence community as I am being subjected to 24/7 direct human tracking, survellience, Internet censorship, and direct communication in the most privacy violating way imaginable. We need to rally Congress to investigate covert activities by those in the intelligence community that so willfully and recklessly violates Americans civil liberties and puts them and others in danger. We as American citizens need Congress to pass serious legislation that protects all U. S. citizens Constitutional and Human rights from being violated by autonomous computer networks that breach, violate and manipulate the very sanity and privacy of one's personnel will and cognitive thought process.

Anonymous

The US government has an advanced A.I AUTONOMOUS computer network that can track individuals 24/7/365 virtually any where on the planet. They can securely communicate with the target censor their Internet searches and information gathering, subject the individual to physical pain and even decipher the individuals cognitive thought process all the while NOT identifying themselves but it is obvious who they are because of the reach and sophistication and reach of the equipment being used. I have to live this tortuous ordeal daily while myself and those around me are put into danger under the psychological and physical torture techniques applied to me daily all the while having to endure a computer tell me "we are here to stress you out".

Richard Crow

Yes that is my fathers fathers real name. My surveillance from theses pos of your descriptions are nothing but criminals of bottom feeding maggots in the war of US vs Them, and those so called Americans working on behalf of I dont give a fuck WHO! Is knowingly violating my civil liberties for the last 4 year's can all kiss my white Cherokee ass. Aint no secrets now you fucking traitors. Govt Drone flyers you ain't no goddaman aviators the Mig busters or myself can be proud of. You ain't nothing but hollow talented gamers going back to the basement of mommies and daddy Nintendo style, Real warrior's fly jets againts the enemy abroad . So when I flipping you off and cussing you out calling you traitors to your country you now have your answer. Takes no skill flying a drone with your hand on your dicks and orders from commie nut huggers. Not sure yet if I can survive the war. I just had my disability ceased with constant harassment 24/365 wondering many times being forced to drive scared shitless. When was I going to be finally stopped durung their dragnet surveillance during some self destructive behavior becoming more and more isolated because of my mental health diagnosis what my immediate family would think. After graduating grief therapy and a year sober I returned to my first love music and drums. I dated a girl for over a year and received nothing but never ending punishment. But never said a word to her. My current gf is my cherry keeper from HS and took me almost a year before I said something about drones to only loose a really good chance at securing a future with a gorgeous partner who is a widow from cancer and also a survivor of her own battle with cancer. But I bet my goddaman US citizenship on it... You will NOT win this battle for our will to be free from tyrannical government is a lifestyle choice constructed nearly 240 years ago and I believe when every citizen of the United States realizes that who the real enemy is and that WE are ALL Indian brothers and sisters in this fight for our civilian liberties as outlined in the contract with our forefathers. So your becoming more than the communist nut hugger commander in chief. You should be ashamed of the bedroom window tactics spying by vandalizing the AC window unit multiple times. However the 5 plus years ago when I was was grieving the loss of the women who for 17 years of marriage helped me to become a better person for she was on dialysis for 12 years nearly giving up or dying many times waiting on a donor match for the last 4 years. Unbelievablely a 2011 super bowl Sunday halftime drunk driver killed a woman in Ohio State and for the first time in my life somehow felt blessed with a moment of gratitude in a blurring decade of suffering from the lifestyle of being hooked up to a machine. Her willingness to not give up made me to become a better person as fulltime caregiver. after being layed off 3 times in aviation after 9/11 and finally gave in and settled on following a recommendation from treating mental health doc at a county agency. I had been seeing since 1999. after nearly three years of no income I received benefits right before 08 stock market crash and simply wanting a little respect for providing a better life for my wife. She lived her last year fighting skin cancer never to go on a long awaited vacation dying one year to the day. Unimaginable rage was only able to focus on the future by returning to work dreaming about my second child hood love of working on flying machines. Only stricken from unbelievable grief at 50 years old had to get help as I was turning towards alcohol and became a daily drinker to cope trying to live off of my disability of 11 hundred dollars a month and sinking quickly as had to take software classes just to learn how to apply on line and relearn a different way of writing a resume for industry standards. I lived by your rules your policymaking and you decide to change the rules and a dirt way around in secretly treating me a law abiding citizen with a known mental illness. Fuck you Trump your a Traitor and I proud to be on the front lines because I can say 9there are no more isolated thoughts of giving up. Because I'm just now getting how you dirty pos have no rules of engagement so go fuck yourselves with your reason to look in my life with no warrants for due process and common human decency.

Larry L Russ Jr.

I live this stuff in Orange county California. Wake up people. It is big government using tax payer money to earn a living, if you can call it that, by targeting people to harass. So if you are liberal you are in fact part of the problem. I fight back by calling the assholes out whenever I can. Install a P A system in your car and say what you want while driving. They commit road rage and let them have with a siren or better yet calling them libtards.
Or when they try to crowd me in public I say "No I wont have sex with you and no I wont let you fuck my dog" Or when they drive close by me within inches I spit on their car. If you stand by and let them bully you then they will get more aggressive. It is better to die standing tall than to live in slavery on your knees.

Make no mistake about it, it is the liberals here in Cali that finance their politics and are paid with tax payer money. California spends 37% of all taxes collected on government employees and their pensions. I speak out about it and that is when it started. Intrusion upon seclusion is a viable law to in litigation. Go after private companies that are contracted. Here it is companies like Southwest Strategies in San Diego. Remember these people are narcissists. They have to tell the world how great they are. Start an internet search of public utilities personnel, free and accepted masons , local churches, police departments ands fire departments and the like. You will see the people that are gang stalking you. Start filing freedom of information act searches of their 501 3 c taxes and government budgets. Especially neighborhood watch groups and city councils. The mayor of Aliso Viejo gang stalks me.

When they vandalized or steal from me I hit them where it hurts the most. I hit them in their illegal voter incubator. I report illegals for deportation. without the illegal vote the liberals cannot win an honest election.

I have some great ideas and tried and trusted platforms that get results. contact me for more info.

Anonymous

If you live in the DC area you have people approach you and start weird, AND RATHER OBVIOUS, conversations. Apparently I'm boring because they stopped after about 6 months,

Anonymous

this is very stupid how wold yhis help they are probably in the cameras too.

Diplomatico

Detailed report on how to keep government's prying eyes at bay http://www.diplomatico.co/en/post/govport/1mJy8G~PpJUbAYN9XYNcgjqy6lsRGlV6XPQTRRStsH3Ll.b9w6kxKfArcHKdX6dJbF1wwSGFR9g40nUiBwxvxw--

Anonymous

I noticed them almost a year ago. There no telling how long they've been there before I noticed. Don't know who they are or what they want but I do know I'm being followed and monitored 24/7. Most white men but there are people off all races and both sexes. They've set traps and sabotaged my jobs, friendships, and even turned family against me. No one believes not just this, but anything I say is dismissed and this was never the case before. It's as if I woke up in a world where everyone hates me. Malicious lies spread and my sex life has come to a complete halt which is weird because I'm always told how handsome I am and I'm very well endowed with a smooth talk most guys wish they could have. Nevertheless, every woman I approach immediately dismiss me or if we were talking before all of a sudden it cuts off without warning. One woman told me that someone called her from a private number and asked her if she could tell them things about me and when she said no they went on to tell her things that she says she knew were false so she hung up. The wildest part is I'm watched as I purchase illegal drugs and local cops are never no where to be found. Neighborhood drug dealers started following and attempting to kill me because they think I'm working with the police because every time I come to buy bud there's a white person in a SUV or pickup truck parked up the street and when I pull off they pull off. I was chased through the city by thugs trying to pull along side of my car and not one cop showed up. As fast, reckless, and dangerous as the chase got no cops. During one chase I was on Facebook live and was being chased for over 10 minutes through the city as well as on the highway. Running red lights and turning up one way streets. when the car finally started to catch up to me I yelled into camera for someone to call 911 and at that moment the car that was chasing me for the last 10 minutes all of a sudden turned on police lights and sirens. It was a state trooper. I was being chased through the city for 10 minutes and not one police light or siren until I yelled into my camera phone Facebook live, (which had 0 viewers because it was 4am). Get this, earlier that same night I was high and was being chased and pulled myself over on the side of the highway to jump out and run into the woods because they we're catching up to me. But when I pulled over a sheriff appeared and the other car kept driving. The sheriff put me in cuffs and searched my car and found a significant amount of "stuff" but instead of taking me to jail he dropped me off at a gas station and told me to have someone come pick me up and have them drive my car home because I was under the influence. I waited a short while and paid someone at the gas station to drop me off to my car where the 8ball of "stuff" was still in my car. The state trooper that didn't use sirens or lights found the same stuff later that night and never even bothered to pick it up out of the clearly visible spot in the hole you use to pull your door closed. He let me go as well. Mind you I don't have liscense or insurance and the plates on my car don't exist in the system. Yeah I know... It's so much more but I'll leave it at this

Anonymous

Your dad must be a top secret government agent.
You should go get your mental health checked.

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