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Stand your ground with your smartphone

Stand your ground with your smartphone

Yesterday’s paper brought yet another amazing story from the alternative universe that is Florida. In the land of jai alai and alligators, where “stand-your-ground laws ” are considered by many to be a legitimate defense for shooting people, it seems that recording a conversation with a cop will land you in jail.

As the Sun-Sentinel reports, 33-year old Brandy Sherling was stopped by a Broward County, Florida sheriff’s deputy for a minor traffic violation.  When she told the officer she was recording the conversation on her smart phone, he demanded she give him the phone and told her (erroneously) that she was committing a felony by recording him. The argument went on for over four minutes. Finally the officer pushed Ms. Sherling from her car, twisting her arm and spraining her wrist in the process. She spent a night in jail—but was never charged. Now she’s suing. Good for her.

Oh, not because she’s going to get a ton of taxpayer’s cash from Broward County. Because she shows us the way we Americans will ultimately protect our freedom and civil rights in a nation where the desire for security now trumps the Bill of Rights.

From the NSA sweeping up metadata to local police scanning license plates, the authorities believe they have carte blanche to surveil us. So as they spy on us, we have a civic duty to return the favor - just like Brandy did with her smartphone. 

You see, the only real safeguard we have against this new wave of creeping, technology-driven totalitarianism is to expose the abuses, and create tidal waves of public outrage.  The surveillance community instinctively understands how powerful and deeply ingrained our distrust of government “security” runs, even in red states. Justice Scalia, certainly no liberal, penned the 2012 Supreme Court opinion in United States v. Jones, which found the warrantless use of GPS auto tracking devices violated the Fourth Amendment.

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