Re: Privacy and Law Enforcement

Ross A. Finlayson (
Fri, 16 Apr 1999 02:34:02 -0400

Michael S. Lorrey wrote:

> "Ross A. Finlayson" wrote:
> > Hello again extropians list,
> >
> > I'm writing again about the subject of privacy. In this e-mail, I focus
> > on privacy and how law enforcement violates it.
> >
> > Law enforcement, defined, is the enforcement of laws of a country.
> > Generally, limited amounts of persons have law enforcement powers. In
> > the United States, law enforcement powers are a privilege, not any kind
> > of right at all.
> Untrue. Every citizen has the right to make what is called a citizens arrest, and refusing to be arrested by a citizen for an eyewitnessed crime is itself a fugitive offense. Not only that, but when you or your family are directly threatened with illegal force, you have the right, and in some jurisdictions the responsibility to first defend yourself and secondly to immobilize the attacker. Read the Posse Commitatus Act before you make any more such broad and incorrect statements.

I didn't think anyone could make a citizen's arrest. I was aware that one could defend oneself against an attacker, especially on one's own property, but was not aware any criminal offender, generally, could be arrested by a citizen and criminal proceedings brought against them. If this is the case, then any citizen can arrest government agencies and representatives performing illegal activities and effect criminal judicial proceedings against them. Note specifically illegal activities, not legal government activities.

I like the phrase "Posse Commitatus", and in this "Wild West" of today's 15 year old Internet it is an apt one.

I am doing some research,, and "Posse Comitatus" is named in a current bill modification to section 1385, title 18, United States Code, the Posse Comitatus Act, There is also some mention of "Posse Comitatus" somewhere. Anyways,, whch leads to several resources, does not have a ready reference to posse comitatus and its legal status. I am hoping someone here can point me to the actual legal statement of the existence of posse comitatus. Anyways, the Posse Comitatus Act is that military forces can't be used to act as the Customs Service and stuff. It is important that we determine the nature of a citizen group to proceed with formation of a posse as a means towards commencing due process, this is unclear at this point.

So, I think that at this point in our discussion the actual legal status of citizen's arrest and its validity is unclear. I believe citizen's arrest is not legal in most areas, but again, what we need here are the actual laws on the books and the actual status quo of how they are enforced, which might not necessarily be the same. If anyone here actually knows the actual legal status of "citizen's arrest" and the right for a citizen to commence criminal proceedings, say so. A citizen should be able to commence criminal proceedings just like anyone else, ie, following crimimal procedure laws. I don't think citizens should or should have to arrest people and enforce laws, that is the job and extent of certain privileges of law enforcement, but they should be able to file a police action just like the police to go to court.

In terms of, upon witnessing a violent criminal act, defending the victim, I think that would be an honorable thing to do, but the law should be that one must try to stop a violent action if its within one's power but not to endanger one to stop a crime which might be unstoppable, and the obligation should be to report it to organized law enforcement. For this, I am talking about responding to a rape whistle or something, which if possible should be done, not jumping into a brawl in a bar, which is generally not one's business.

> >
> > Today, by the unconstitutional laws that have soiled the law books of
> > our country, "law enforcement", or shall we say, "illegal government law
> > enforcement" agencies have some legally defined un-Constitutional powers
> > to conduct illegal searches and monitoring of private individuals. This
> > is, as stated, un-Constitutional, as well as: un-American, cowardly,
> > base, "snoopy", ugly, un-American, and downright Orwellian.
> >
> > Now, I don't have any kind of problem with constitutional law
> > enforcement only to the extent of protecting individual and civil
> > liberties, ie, within its Constitutional domain. Anything else is not
> > only not Constitutional, but base, cowardly, et al, as above.
> >
> > Privacy, to some extent, is a right. It is a right because of the
> > consideration of some personal data as "owned". For example, if my name
> > was Joe B. Katzenhammer-Bulwar Jr., and somebody started sending e-mails
> > using my name to spam people, that would be a violation of my personal
> > data rights. This illustrates incompletely that personal data is
> > property. Others using personal data without permission is thus theft
> > of this property and subject to civil and possibly criminal
> > liabilities. Thus, while it is not covered in the Constitution or Bill
> > of Rights as a specific right, it is a right under the umbrella of other
> > rights. It is also noted easily that certainly no one else can
> > establish any kind of right to use personal data without permission.
> It is covered broadly under the 9th Amendment. All rights and powers not specifically enumerated to the government belong to the people. The 10th Amendment recognises that the residents of some states may choose to delegate more of these powers to their state government under their state constitutions.

Amendment IX is:

"Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. "

This does not grant the status of a right to privacy explicitly, thus while it might broadly allow rights beyond Constitutional scope, it does not place privacy and the right of determining the disposition of one's personal data vs. the privilege of others disposing of one's personal data as rights. At which point a certain extent of privacy and personal identity property rights is legally recognized as a right, then Article 9 provides protection.

> >
> >
> > The ability to aquire and use strong encryption to protect the integrity
> > of personal data over the Internet is thus, by extension, a right.
> > There are issues with national security with respect to encryption, but
> > that has absolutely nothing to do with illegal wiretapping and
> > un-Constitutional, unethical, communications interception, and the fact
> > that those things are illegal, unethical, and un-Constitutional.
> >
> > Back to "law enforcement in regards to un-Constitutional electronic
> > communications privacy invasions", or shall we say, "goons", there is a
> > absolutely no legitimate reason to circumvent the tried and true warrant
> > and Miranda laws that assume the Consitutional "innocent until proven
> > guilty." Thus, current government operations in these regards is
> > un-Constitutional, thus illegal, and makes these government agencies
> > civilly and criminally liable for said invasions of privacy.
> >
> > Acoording to the Freedom of Information Act, which might better be
> > termed the "Freedom of relatively unimportant information act" these
> > agencies also enjoy some un-Constitutional abilities to withhold what
> > information they do collect, this is base, et al, as stated above.
> Yes, due to some still classified sections of the National Security Act of 1947.

That among others, are on the books.

> >
> > Now, I am elaborating on these reasons because I see these actions taken
> > by our government as travesties of justice and a shameful thing, and the
> > government deserves absolute examination and disclosure. I plan to
> > continue to, as I am able, expose un-Constitutional and illegal
> > government activities and as possible encourage their cessation and
> > dissolution. There is absolutely no Constitutional, moral, or ethical
> > reason for our government to pay voyeurs to spy on us. Rather, they can
> > pay us to voluntarily give some of our information.
> >
> > The lucre that keeps the grinding gears of government running each day
> > is taxpayer money. Some of the tax-supported agencies are robbing you
> > and all Americans of personal data, and they should pay for that and
> > cease and desist.
> >
> > On the subject of law enforcement, there are brave men and women who
> > each day protect citizenry and other good, Constitutional things.
> >
> > In regards to "goons" and privacy, there are illegal, un-Constitutional,
> > institutional elements which should be abolished.
> Should be would be could be......illegal offenses only end when a citizen takes the appropriate level of force to hand when presented with illegal acts. Don't expect the courts to protect you from anything but the most gross offenses.
> Mike Lorrey

I think the courts are an option, another is public exposure of un-American government activities, which leads to popular voting and funds disbursement.

Happy day after the day when personal income taxes to fund the government are due!

Personally, when I drive, I like to drive fast.

I am thinking that at some point, we shall have developed a special purpose AI to help us to determine the nature and reality of laws and their interrelations to other laws and actual economic and political activities. This AI will be able to search all Code and determine more or less what the state is on a variety of actions, and help legislators and inform a very large voting populace, so that democracy can return to its Athenian roots where every citizen has a vote.

I am not a huge reform advocate, because the system appears to be running, but I am a reform advocate, because some things need to be reformed, and we, as citizens, pay for it.


Ross Andrew Finlayson
"C is the speed of light."