Now for our second installment on focusing on Liberty, Freedom, and the Free Constitutional Republic, we have been blessed with. I feel the need to remind everyone of what Independence Day truly means. It is far more than fireworks, hot dogs, apple pie, and a long weekend. It is about Freedom!
I am saddened by the prevalent hate, vitriol, paranoia, and anger in today’s world. We are standing on the precipice of destruction and most can only see the presence or absence of their preferences and view all who oppose them as mortal enemies. I see that even among those professing to believe in the Bible, Jesus, and identify as Christian. We are in a dangerous place and only God can change that.
Now, to the topic of today. I do not know about you, but I consider defending our Constitutional Rights and Freedoms a prime objective and responsibility of every freedom-loving American. Any politician who is willing to bypass the Constitution and strip us of our inalienable rights is not a friend of mine nor America. Any politician that attempts to sell the ‘snake oil’ solution of giving up liberty in hopes that the government can issue an edict that will keep us safe, is not my friend or a friend of the Constitution.
Every politician elected to a national office is required to take an oath to both protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. They are not afforded the luxury or privilege to cherry-pick which part of that document they protect or defend. They are required by the Constitution and by moral decency to honor all of it whether they like what it says or not. That is how we have survived for over 240 years and how we will continue if we do.
Some accused me of being a Trump cultist and a Trump apologist and insisted that I never criticized anything he did. That was and is blatantly false. Today I am going to once again call into question an action that his administration pursued. An action that administrations before him pursued. That action was the push by the federal government for tech companies to give the government ‘backdoor access’ to encrypted applications on our phones, computers, etc. In my view, is questionable for several reasons. I am concerned about the violation or potential violation of our constitutional right of protection from ‘unreasonable search and seizure.’
Some argue, that if it keeps us safe from one terrorist attack then it is worth it. That is the same argument for ‘gun control’ but rejected when it comes to abortion or securing the border. It is cherry-picking. The words of Benjamin Franklin echo in my mind. He said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” I know the word ‘deserve; is a bit harsh, but the truth is that if we give up liberty hoping for safety, we will end up with neither. The country and the constitution will suffer as a result.
Encryption is the process used to encode data to prevent unwanted third parties from accessing a user’s personal profile. The algorithms for encryption are many and varied, but their intended purpose is to protect you and me from the nefarious intrusion into our privacy and personal information. Smartphones and computers utilize encryption to permanently lock our data in case of theft or if an unauthorized individual attempts to access our devices.
Of course, those are not always successful, and hackers also use algorithms to break the codes and steal our personal data. Viruses such as hackers have used the infamous Ryuk ransomware to successfully encrypt the files and steal information from hundreds of businesses around the world.
I can appreciate the government wanting to protect us from terrorists, they should. I want them to be able to do just that. However, if they ignore the privacy of private law-abiding citizens and violate our constitutional rights, is that the right approach? Sadly, my concerns are realities in today’s national intelligence communities. They are watching is more than we know and if we knew we would be horrified.
Terrorist organizations use apps like Telegram which features end-to-end encryption to communicate with each other and disseminate their radical propaganda. That is dangerous and must be addressed. Hackers and drug dealers also use that application for their diabolical purposes to communicate and safeguard their information. If it is documented or there is reasonable suspicion that there is criminal activity then a warrant from the courts could and should be used, but not blanket access by the government. Of course, ‘reasonable’ sometimes becomes subjective and misused.
I realize that it is ancient history but in the 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California we have an example of the dilemma and difficulty posed for the government and its citizens. The Islamist Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik took fourteen lives and injured twenty-two more in their attack. Those terrorists deserved no protection.
Again, I know this is ancient history, but still relevant. During the investigation, the FBI recovered Farook’s work phone, the iPhone5C, but was unable to unlock the device. They requested Apple to create software that would allow them to access the iPhone of Farook. Apple refused to do so, and a third party helped the FBI unlock the iPhone, but the information retrieved was limited.
Apple’s refusal escalated the discussion of where the line should be drawn between National Security and Consumer Privacy. That is an especially important line and one that is not always easily distinguishable. I am very much interested in protecting against terrorists and incredibly determined to maintain our Constitutional Rights. That is the kind of issue that could keep me awake at night. Being torn is an understatement.
Edward Snowden leaked information about the expansive and extensive government surveillance. I am not trying to defend or condemn him, but the revelation was troubling and the extent to which ‘big brother’ is watching is concerning. With the immense arsenal of the federal government to spy on citizens, the encryption issue may sound almost moot, but is it?
The loss of privacy by law-abiding American citizens should always be a concern. Let me offer a scenario and you decide how far you think the government should be able to go in its quest for information.
If the government can deem that it has the right to all personal information and private communications for national security purposes what is next? Could that not also argue that they have the right to control and determine what technological devices and technology we are allowed to utilize? Could they not seek to be allowed to audit all our personal files on our home computers, tablets, or any other encrypted device at any moment for any reason? All in the name of national security? Before you say, “Well I have nothing to hide so go ahead, what is to prevent some nefarious ideologue from twisting things for their purposes?” Are you confident that would not happen?
The conundrum is that we, as private citizens, want to be safe and protected but we also want to maintain our constitutional right to privacy. Our current legal system is based on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. I fear that allowing unfettered access by the federal government to backdoor encryption will violate our personal privacy to the point that we will find ourselves not only unsafe but under the thumb of the tyrannical elitists in government who want total control. I do not want America to become another China or any other despotic country where people no longer have true freedom.
Yes, I am perplexed and troubled over this and many other things. However, I continue to stand for the Constitution and our inalienable rights and freedoms. I also stand staunchly for discovering any criminal and terrorist and prosecuting them to the full extent of the law. It is a perplexing situation and one that is not easily answered but with the push of the Left toward Total Control and Socialism, I fear for the personal freedom of all citizens.
God bless you and God bless America is my prayer. Lord, please keep us free while keeping us safe!