In Washington’s never-ending assault on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Trump and the GOP have been willing participants in the effort.
Though Trump has been a threat to the Constitution in nearly every imaginable way, he has recently spent a great deal of energy on dismantling the First Amendment — specifically, freedom of the press and freedom of speech — going so far as to sue CNN and threaten to shut down social media for displeasing him.
In a recent article comparing Trump’s presidency to that of a mob-boss godfather, I documented how “Don” Trump — with help from consigliere Barr and Republican soldatos (soldiers) — are working on so-called “reform” of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Under their plan, Big Brother government gains new power to control internet content and spy on internet users; creating an America where the only “free speech” is government-approved speech.
One of the Capos (captains) in Trump’s army of soldatos is Sen. Lindsey Graham. It was Graham — he has a long history of favoring government-controlled speech — who introduced the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act a few months ago, a bill giving government the control over the internet Trump and the GOP have been seeking.
Though Graham denied it at the time, the EARN IT Act included language granting the government “backdoor” access to a user’s encrypted information on their cell phones and other devices.
Whether Graham lied or not about backdoor access — he lied — he and a few members of his crew recently introduced the so-called “Lawless Access to Encrypted Data Act,” a bill that would mandatorily end the use of unbreakable encryption by tech companies.
In other words, the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure will be gone — along with your right to privacy.
Using the terrorism card the GOP has routinely played since 9/11, Graham and soldatos Tom Cotton and Marsha Blackburn defended the bill using the same rhetoric they always use when looking to justify destroying liberty in the name of safety:
“Terrorists and criminals routinely use technology, whether smartphones, apps, or other means, to coordinate and communicate their daily activities. In recent history, we have experienced numerous terrorism cases and serious criminal activity where vital information could not be accessed, even after a court order was issued. Unfortunately, tech companies have refused to honor these court orders and assist law enforcement in their investigations. My position is clear: After law enforcement obtains the necessary court authorizations, they should be able to retrieve information to assist in their investigations. Our legislation respects and protects the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans. It also puts the terrorists and criminals on notice that they will no longer be able to hide behind technology to cover their tracks.”
~ Lindsey Graham
“Tech companies’ increasing reliance on encryption has turned their platforms into a new, lawless playground of criminal activity. Criminals from child predators to terrorists are taking full advantage. This bill will ensure law enforcement can access encrypted material with a warrant based on probable cause and help put an end to the Wild West of crime on the Internet.”
~ Tom Cotton
“User privacy and public safety can and should work in tandem. What we have learned is that in the absence of a lawful warrant application process, terrorists, drug traffickers and child predators will exploit encrypted communications to run their operations.”
~ Marsha Blackburn
We are helping Apple all of the time on TRADE and so many other issues, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements. They will have to step up to the plate and help our great Country, NOW! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2020
And get this, Graham’s bill would likely survive a court challenge.
One of Trump’s “conservative” appointments to the Supreme Court (Brett Kavanaugh) has ruled against the Fourth Amendment in the past. In a case about NSA spying, he said that “The government’s collection of telephony metadata from a third-party such as a telecommunications service provider is not considered a search under the Fourth Amendment.” And he further stated that even if it did constitute a search, the NSA program was constitutional because their actions weren’t “unreasonable” and, therefore, weren’t subject to the Fourth Amendment.
Graham wants Americans to know they have nothing to worry about from his latest bill because Congress will protect us from government abuse of this new power. Seems to me we were told something similar when Congress passed the litany of liberty-killing legislation they sold us post-9/11.
And we all know how that’s been working out, don’t we?
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.