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Is Law Enforcement Violating Your Privacy Rights? – With Bob Goodlatte: Are our Fourth Amendment Rights being violated? Are local, state and federal law enforcement embracing the wrong political philosophy? Should the government be able to operate like the private sector and gather our information without a search warrant? Tune in to hear former Congressman Bob Goodlatte from the Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability!

Air Date: 11/01/2022

Guest: Bob Goodlatte

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith and the Culture

Rick:

You find your way to the intersection of faith and the culture. Thanks for joining us today on WallBuilders Live, where we take on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.

My name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas legislator in America’s Constitution coach, here with David Barton and Tim Barton. Tim’s a national speaker and pastor and president of Wallbuilders. David’s, of course, America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders, and we are thankful that you’re with us. You can find out more at wallbuilderslive.com. You can learn about all three of us, and you can also get access to the archives so you can listen to programs you’ve missed over the last few weeks or months. And that’s the place where you can make that one-time or monthly contribution, very easy to do.

We’re approaching the end of the year, and as we all make our tax deductible contributions, think about that. That means instead of sending the money to Joe Biden and the rest in Washington, DC, you send it to good ministries that you know are doing good work. You can make that tax deductible donation at wallbuilderslive.com today.

Also, I want to give you a special invitation to join me at my home for a constitutional defense course; at least the first night of the course will be here at my home. We will be doing that on the front porch. If you watch the Front Porch Live that we do each week from here, we’re going to have dinner together right there, have a little constitutional training, and then we’ll do our constitutional defense course the rest of the week out at some ranges that are close to my house.

Constitutional Defense

This is going to be a very small group, intimate group. We’re going to have a great time together, good fellowship and really good training, best firearms instructors on the planet, and an opportunity to not only get that good physical training where you can defend your family, but get that intellectual training so that you can defend the Constitution as well. Hope you’ll consider joining us.

Patriotacademy.com is the website. Patriotacademy.com, look for that picture of Matt Walsh and myself shooting there on the range. Click on that picture and you can get those dates. One is right at the end of November and the other is the following week, first part of December. And I’d love to see you here. We’ll have a great time together.

Alright, David and Tim, yesterday we had former Congressman Bob McEwen on and we were talking about these FBI raids of prolifers across the country. Today we’ve got former Congressman Bob Goodlatte. So this is the week of the Bobs, but we’re still going to be talking about law enforcement and the abuse, frankly, of law enforcement; and in this case it’s not just federal but sometimes state and local, where they’re getting essentially data and information by purchasing it from a third party.

I didn’t even know this was going on, guys. So it’s apparently an end run around the prohibition on law enforcement themselves getting your data without essentially a warrant or specifically a pass muster of the Fourth Amendment specific warrant for what they want. So anyway, interesting topic today, and it somewhat follows up on what we talked about yesterday.

Tim:

I was actually just thinking it’s very similar to the notion of having a weaponized FBI that’s doing things that’s outside of the realm of what they should be doing because of a different political philosophy. If we look at what’s happening with law enforcement, obviously, we are huge supporters of law enforcement.

The Patriot Act

We back the blue and we still recognize that, yeah, you can have some corruption in the midst of different leaders, and there can be different officers that aren’t great, just like in every area and spectrum of life, just like we so often will talk about. There can be a great public school teacher in a really broken public school system, or there can be some really great pastors or really bad pastors. We know it’s people across the board.

With that being said, we’re not disparaging a police officers, but sometimes a political philosophy gets ingrained or embraced and it becomes a standard and a norm that is not something that should be appropriate or acceptable. So if we go back, for example, to the Patriot Act, there’s a lot of details, a letter to the Patriot Act, part of it was related to some of the limitations with Guantanamo and questions, can we track cell phone data? And what does that look like? People initially thought, well, the government’s going to listen to all your conversations. And that seems so scary for a while.

Although now it’s worth noting that every single smart device everybody has and owns and carries like it listens to your conversations, right; Google, Amazon, they listen to your conversations. So it’s not the federal government. But there were then concerns that the federal government might go too far. And with the concern that they’re going too far, the end around that we will discuss more on the program today was if the federal government did not have permission to listen or to get.

Data Collectors

And this is beyond listening because they still can’t do that, but if they don’t have permission to get all of your data, well, there are groups like an Amazon, like a Meta, like a Google that collect all this data and they make it available to people, they will sell it to people. There’s a lot of money in the data world.

And so law enforcement said, hey, let’s just go buy the data, it’s out there, it’s available. And it does raise an interesting question of if this is something that is legally available for purchase, has law enforcement gone too far by legally purchasing this information? Because normally to gather information on individuals, you need a search warrant and to get a search warrant, you have to show a level of justification to get the search warrant.

So the sheriff or whoever law enforcement is, right, they go to the judge and they say, hey, this is what we’re looking into, can we get a search warrant? Well in this case they don’t need a search warrant. So does that change a level of evidence?

There’s a lot of interesting things in this conversation. And guys, I’ve definitely been thinking through it. I’m curious to hear Congressman Goodlatte on the interview to see it unfold a little bit because I have some thoughts already about this and I’m very curious where he’s going to go and maybe that will influence some of what I’m thinking right now. But I have a couple of strong opinions about this that I am excited to see what he’s going to say and then I want to get into.

David:

One of the things we get from Original intent is the fact that there’s a big difference between what the government can do and what private sector can do. Just because the private sector can do something doesn’t mean the government can. That was because the force and the power of government, when they bring to bear the full force of the government, unlimited attorneys, unlimited resources, unlimited everything, they can outlast any single citizen. And so while private firms may have some personal data, that’s not like the government getting that data and using it against you. It’s a whole different ballgame.

Department of Homeland Security

Tim:

Well, and dad, back to your thought of Original intent, the problem with the federal government or different law enforcement agencies doing this, well, for the federal government specifically, they’re only supposed to do what the US Constitution tells them they can do. So if this is out of the purview of what the federal government is authorized to do under the Constitution, then it violates Original Intent.

The same thing if we look at states and state constitutions or whatever the level of law enforcement is, there are parameters and there is a jurisdiction they’re supposed to operate in and this is outside the realm of their jurisdiction. Because there are no checks and balances on this, that was the whole point of the governmental system the Founding Father self set up was there would be checks and balances because they knew there would be abuse of power if there wasn’t that accountability.

David:

And the other thing that goes with this is the concept of unintended consequences. Because when you have unintended consequences, I mean if you go back to after 911, set up Department of Homeland Security and a lot of people said no, wait a minute, you’re giving the government way too much power and they said no, no, we’re only going to use against terrorists. We’re not going to use the Department of Homeland Security against domestic things. This is only going to be terrorists who blow up buildings. Oh, you mean like the guys you’re now calling terrorists that are conservatives and anybody who showed up on January 6th?

Now, there were some stupid people who did stupid stuff and they need to face prosecution for some of the destruction they did on that day. But that’s not everybody who came to DC on January 6th. And they’re trying to make everybody a terrorist because you’re part of this insurrection thing that happened. And that’s not what Department of Homeland Security is for.

Unintended Consequences

But they’ve decided that conservatives are just as big a threat and probably a bigger threat than Muslim terrorists are and conservatives, we got to turn against them. And so it really has gotten out of hand. And so when you get away from Original Intent whatever that is that’s not healthy. And we’re seeing that now with this invasion of privacy by government.

Rick:

Well, former Congressman Bob Goodlatte is certainly on top of this issue, has paid close attention to it while in Congress and now outside of Congress influencing this and trying to get a piece of legislation passed that will protect our data and this information and make sure that it is done correctly and not just a third party sale of it to law enforcement. So we’re going to learn about that from Congressman Goodlatte when we return from the break. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.

Moment from AMERICAN HISTORY

This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Alexis de Tocqueville, a political official from France, traveled to the United States in 1831 and penned his observations in the now famous book “Democracy in America”. Being from France, what he found in America was completely unexpected to him.

He reported “Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention. And the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this. In France, I’d almost always seen the spirit of religion in the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America, I found that they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.”

De Tocqueville recognized that it was biblical Christianity and the morals that produced that made America great. For more information about Alexia Tocqueville and the positive influence of Christianity in early America, go to wallbuilders.com.

Rick:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. Good to have former Congressman Bob Goodlatte from Virginia with us. Thank you for coming on, sir.

Bob:

Rick, it’s great to be with you and WallBuilders. And I hope you’re having a great day?

Rick:

Well, we are, and we’re thankful you are still in the fight serving as a policy adviser for the Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability. And, of course, listen, a lot of us were very much for the law enforcement tools necessary to deal with terrorism 20 years ago. But boy, it sure seems like a lot of those things are now being expanded and unfortunately, being used against the American people and you guys are on top of that and bringing attention to it.

And apparently, there’s this new thing with law enforcement using cell phone tracking ability. So catch us up on what you guys are doing and where you think the real trouble spots are that we need to be aware of.

The Carpenter Decision

Bob:

Well, sure. Well, first, I and PPSA, the Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability completely agree with you that it’s important for law enforcement to have the tools necessary to prevent crimes, to solve crimes, and to keep all of us safe. But they need to do so in a way that protects the principles behind the United States Constitution, most particularly, in this instance, the Fourth Amendment, which is a protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. And it requires that the government show cause why they should have the ability to get particular information about you.

In fact, there was a Supreme Court case not very long ago that dealt with this very point called the ‘Carpenter Decision’ that occurred in 2018. And basically, they said that the long term GPS tracking of location and location history is of a person; and now everybody who has a smartphone, no matter where you go, under most circumstances, they’re going to have the ability to track you and not just track you in real time, but go back to the records and see where you were at a specific time.

And again, that information under certain circumstances should be available to law enforcement to help solve crimes. And in emergencies, a kidnapping or a child is missing or a terrorist attack is happening, they should have the ability to use it in real time.

But under most circumstances, they should have to have a compliance with the Fourth Amendment. And that’s what the Supreme Court held in the ‘Carpenter’ case. They said that the long term tracking was contrary to a reasonable expectation of privacy and therefore a violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition of warrantless searches.

Now, what’s happened since that decision, and it’s not just at the federal level, but at the state and local level as well, police have acting on what most people think is a shoddy legal theory espoused by law enforcement agencies, that there are no Fourth Amendment violations if the government merely buys our information from a third party. And there are these data brokerage firms, they buy data from all the companies that have apps.

And you go on the app and you get some information or you play a game or whatever the case might be. Every time you do that, information about you, some of it is location information, but other information as well is gathered by these data brokers. And then they sell it to people who then private companies will send you targeted advertising and this sort of thing. But when it comes to the government, when it comes to law enforcement, they find that information useful in investigating a crime.

The Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act

Rick:

So are they saying that it’s not okay if law enforcement was doing it directly, but it’s okay for these private entities to do it, and law enforcement buy it from them?

Bob:

That’s exactly right. It’s called the Third Party Doctrine. And they’re saying that if you’ve given your information to a third party, then you’ve made it freely available, and you’re no longer enjoying the protections of the Fourth Amendment. And that was true until that ‘Carpenter Decision’ in 2018. And now law enforcement is being told, well, you can’t gather it yourself.

So they’ve come up with the idea, well, if we can’t gather it ourselves, if somebody else has gathered it and sold it to us, we can get that way. And this has come to become a huge, huge issue with regard to people’s privacy. And people don’t even know this is going on for the most part.

Rick:

Yes. Can you do anything as an individual? I mean, what do you do to prevent that from happening or can you at this point?

Bob:

Well, I’m not a technology expert, but if you turned off your device and maybe took the battery out of the device, you might not have tracking, but that certainly makes your smartphone a lot less useful than what you want it to be, which is a mobile device: so you have it available, you can get information, you can call people, you can receive calls, and so on, no matter where you are. And that would make it impractical.

So the Congress has started to respond to this. In both the House and the Senate, a bill has been introduced called the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act, and Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act would prohibit the government from buying information from data brokers without having a warrant that they would have to obtain from a court and say it’s necessary for us to have this information, and here’s why. So it wouldn’t be just like a dragnet where they could say, okay, let’s see who is in this particular area at this particular time.

The Solution

And you could be driving by a place where a crime is committed in your car and have absolutely nothing to do with that crime, but you become a suspect in the case because your geolocation showed that you were driving by or walking by or in the next building over, or whatever the case might be.

So this is a very, very serious concern. This is the kind of thing that is happening in countries like China where they are keeping massive amounts of data about each of their citizens and can literally track where they are and in some instances what they’re doing, almost every day of their lives, every minute of their lives. And we don’t want the United States to go in that same direction. So the Congress needs to respond and prohibit that kind of activity, except when there are emergencies.

Like the ones I described earlier or they have a warrant or they go to the court and say we have reason to believe that this individual was involved in this criminal activity and we want to have the right to go and tap into this database and see whether we can find information about that individual to help us solve this crime.

Rick:

That may be the best named piece of legislation in a long time, the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale, that’s a really good way to describe exactly the situation. And what I’m hearing you say, and I would agree with 100%, is that okay, if there’s a legitimate reason and there’s a specific just like the Fourth Amendment talks about, I mean, you got to say, what is that specific thing that you’re going in to look for?

And if you can do that and convince a judge this is something that needs to be gotten, we’re not against that. We want law enforcement to have that tool. It’s this blanket, like the old writ of assistance that the British used to just go in and find anything that you want that we’re trying to say no to, have I got that right?

Bob:

You’re absolutely right. And the Congress has already spoken on this in another way. A few years ago, before that 2018 Supreme Court decision known as a ‘Carpenter’s Decision’, it was discovered that the federal government was getting massive amounts of data from the telephone companies about not the content of the telephone call, but who you were calling, what number was being dialed from what time of day, that kind of basic information and they were storing that in massive server farms.

Your Geolocation Information

And the Congress responded and said they prohibited the government from gathering any kind of metadata, not just telephone metadata, but metadata related to finances or metadata related to children, or metadata related to your health care. And not just telephone metadata, but data gathered over the internet, gathered in a whole variety of different ways.

But now they’ve gone way beyond that with this whole idea that, okay, we can’t gather it ourselves, we’ve got to show cause to the court in order to gather it ourselves. But because these other entities have gathered it, we have the opportunity to buy it from them. And this is a long-standing doctrine of the law that the Supreme Court has started moving away from.

Like with that 2018 ‘Carpenter Decision’, they need to review it further and go further. But really we can’t wait. The court is generally slow in the evolution of these legal principles. If you go back 20 or 30 years, the data that other people held about you was pretty rudimentary stuff, and it was pretty specific locations like your bank would have information about you, your school might have information about you. But a lot of the information that is available today about people didn’t even exist back then, like this geolocation information.

So times have changed. People have come to trust third parties withholding data about almost every. Aspect of their lives. When you think about all of the different websites, apps and so on that you deal with on the Internet that are all collecting data about you, much of it very beneficial to you.

They should not have the ability to sell it to the government. This law is even now or now, doesn’t say who they can and can’t sell to. It says very specifically the government can’t buy it from them unless they get a warrant authorizing them to do so.

Rick:

That’s good. You may remember, I don’t remember on the metadata bill, it seems like this would be a pretty broad coalition, so the Libertarians, Republicans, Democrats, I mean, it seems this would not be a one party or the other kind of thing that the congressman would want to protect us.

Contact Your Congressman

Bob:

Well, hearing was held in the Judiciary Committee back in July, and all five of the witnesses, including myself, were very outspoken in favor of the legislation. And the overwhelming amount of the questions that came from both Democrats and Republicans, from Chairman Nadler and ranking member Jordan, were in favor of this legislation. So if your listeners are interested in it, they should contact their member of Congress and say, please support the Fourth Amendments Not For Sale Act. It would be a tremendous benefit towards not steering our country into a government surveillance state and preserving the freedoms that our Bill of Rights is all about.

Rick:

Amen. So good. So good. Congressman, thank you so much for your time and thanks for your work and stay on the front lines with this particular fight and helping to keep us informed. Appreciate you coming on. I look forward to having you back.

Bob:

We’ll do, rick. And keep up the great work at WallBuilders and say hello to my good friend David Barton.

Rick:

I’ll do it, man. I’ll do it. Thank you so much. Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.

THE AMERICAN STORY

Hey, guys, we want to let you know about a new resource we have at WallBuilders called The American Story. For so many years, people have asked us to do a history book to help tell more of the story that’s just not known or not told today.

And we would say very providentially in the midst of all of the new attacks coming out against America, whether it be from things like the 1619 project that say America is evil, and everything in America was built off slavery, which is certainly not true or things, like even the Black Lives Matter movement, the organization itself, not out the statement Black Lives Matter, but the organization that says we’re against everything that America was built on, and this is part of the Marxist ideology. There’s so many things attacking America.

Well, is America worth defending? What is the true story of America? We actually have written and told that story starting with Christopher Columbus, going roughly through Abraham Lincoln, we tell the story of America not as the story of a perfect nation of a perfect people. But the story of how God used these imperfect people and did great things through this nation. It’s a story you want to check out, wallbuilders.com, The American Story.

Rick:

We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Back with David and Tim. Thanks to Congressman Bob Goodlatte for joining us today as well. And David and Tim, of course, this would be a federal law. I guess if I understood him right, this would apply to not just federal law enforcement, but all law enforcement, and essentially just uphold the Fourth Amendment?

David:

And the Fourth Amendment is really big. And you can read the Fourth Amendment, the bottom line is that it’s “To protect the privacy of individuals from the intrusion of government”; and it says specifically your persons, your houses, your papers, your effects. I mean, everything they could think of back then, they wanted to protect it from government. And so that privacy is what the Fourth Amendment gives. And so what you’re losing is privacy to the government.

Losing Our Privacy

Now, losing privacy to a private entity because you give them your email or your address or your preferences on your profiles, whatever, that’s one thing. But given that, that’s all different when the government gets it. This kind of data mining we actually saw back with Common Core. This is a flag we raised 15 years ago, where that educators were now gathering data on students so they could profile the parents. And that’s not the purpose of government. That’s not the purpose of education.

Tim:

Well, and even outside the purpose of education or the purpose of government, in this case as you’re mentioning, one of the things that also was a major flag to me was if we asked the question, well, if this is publicly available in the sense that anybody can purchase it, why shouldn’t law enforcement be able to purchase it? And then it does go back to, well, where are they going to get the money to purchase it? Well, they’re getting the money from our tax dollars.

So ultimately, we are paying for them to get information to use against us when we haven’t consented, when they haven’t gone through the due process. There are a lot of reasons this should be of major concern. Now, data in general, people should pay a lot more attention. For most of us, using a smartphone smart device, when you agree to terms of service, you are agreeing to give them ridiculous amounts of availability to track your data.

It’s one of the, actually, significant dangers of things like TikTok, which have been many people pointing to the danger of TikTok, that that’s an app that actually can override a lot of security features of other apps, even things on your phone. So it’s crazy the amount of data and information that China can connect or collect from you from some of these apps. Nonetheless, this is something in terms of agreement.

Is Law Enforcement Violating Your Privacy Rights? – With Bob Goodlatte

Most of us have no idea at the level of tracking. But if we paid attention, number one, we wouldn’t like it. And number two, we certainly recognize that the law enforcement with the continued political weaponization we’re seeing of law enforcement, unfortunately, especially the federal level, this is not data they should have access to at all without a warrant.

Rick:

Alright, folks, that’s it for today. You can find out more at our website, wallbuilderslive.com, where you can also get the archives of the program and listen to any you’ve missed over the last few weeks or months. I challenge you to be a force multiplier.

Take those shows and share them with your friends and family. Help us get the word out, get the truth out there and equip and educate and inspire fellow citizens to save our constitutional republic. Also, as I said at the beginning of the program today, become a Constitution coach. You can do that at patriotacademy.com.

And while you’re at patriotacademy.com, check out that opportunity to come to the Constitutional Defense of your Family and Freedom. Come to that course in person at my house. We’re going to have dinner on my front porch. It’s going to be a great time together, good fellowship, good constitution training and then we’ll be heading down to the ranges and give you an opportunity to get a good handgun defense course over the course of several days.

Check all of that out at patriotacademy.com. Thanks so much for listening to WallBuilders Live.