177 Whose business is it what's on your computer?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 10 months ago

It's obvious that no one can come strolling in your house and start searching your computer. Nor can someone just snatch up your computer from your house or car, take it away from you, and do a full-bore forensic search for anything and everything that has ever been on it. But at exactly what point outside your house does your 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure go away?

Suppose, for example, that you go on a trip across the border with your laptop or smart phone. How much suspicion does the border patrol have to have before they can grab your phone or laptop, take it away from you for months at a time, and do an in-depth search?

For example--doing my best to test your principles--suppose that more than a decade ago you were convicted of child molestation. Suppose your name was put into a national database. Suppose you and your wife were returning from a trip to Mexico, and with no reason for suspicion other than the fact that your laptop had password protected files on it and the border patrol people had seen your name on that database, they decided to confiscate your laptop and put it through a full forensic investigation taking a couple of months.

Can we allow the government to do things like that?

No? They just did it to someone.

Is that probable cause? You once committed a crime and your computer has files on it that you want to keep private?

Could they also decide to confiscate your computer because you are on a list of shoplifters and your computer still has a price tag on it?

How far are we willing to allow the federal government to go?


Pat Randall 3 years, 10 months ago

There are a lot of things the govt. and law enforcement does that is not legal in Ariz. Show most people a badge and they roll over and play dead.
Get up and argue your rights. Your car cannot be searched unless they have a search warrant or you give them permission. You may have to sit in the car until they get a warrant but it might be worth it. This is not true if you are crossing a border.

My house was searched here in Payson without a warrant but I gave permission because I had the whole damn swat team with guns pointed at me and my husband who had dementia and didn't know what was going on. If I had it to do over they would have to get a warrant or shoot me.

Yes Tom, more or less off the subject but I am venting. Getting rid of my stress.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 10 months ago


You're not venting. That is the exact subject we are on: The 4th Amendment.

Our forefathers knew that the quickest way to lose your rights was to not know them, or to fail to stand up for them.

My father's family had quite a few people in it that were involved in law enforcement--police, two district attorneys, a judge. I use to listen to them talk when I was a kid. Of course this was a long time ago, but if everyone involved in law enforcement were like them there would be fewer rights violations. They used to grumble about some cops, partly because they did things they shouldn't have done, and partly because they had to throw cases out because something improper had been done.

There are sites on the web which will tell you what to do, and what not to do. Most of the time people give away their 4th and 5th amendment rights by agreeing to things they do not have to agree to. Listen carefully to what a police officer says. If he asks to do something he is asking for permission, not telling you what you have to do. Be smart. Decide what you want to do. Most cops are not out to trouble ordinary citizens, but there are some people in any job who should be doing something else for a living.

To be honest, I've never in my life had any kind of problem with a civilian policeman, except for one poor little female rookie trainee in Mesa who gave me a ticket for speeding, but had read someone else's car instead of mine (the guy who went shooting past me at 55 or 60, of course; I had just turned left off a crossroad and gone about 300 yards when she stopped me while I was doing 40). She looked so worried (hand on pistol, face gray) that I felt more sorry for her than anything else. The only thing that troubles me about it is that it is the one and only traffic ticket I ever got in my life, and I sure wish that the suit sitting in the back of her squad car had been doing his job. He was obviously training her to use the gun and wasn't paying attention. I was going to fight it, but after taking a day off and wasting $275 I found out that all I got was a preliminary hearing and I would have to go to another hearing--and waste another day's pay--to get a $90 ticket squashed, so I just paid the stupid thing. Spoiled a perfect driving record though. It was 47 years at the time. Now it's 60 years with one %$#@! ticket.


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