Americans believe that the Bill of Rights, or what is left of it, protects them from unreasonable and warrantless search and seizure under the 4th Amendment. This simply isn’t true, and hundreds of thousands of warrantless searches are likely under way as you read this.
Thanks to a helpful tool in the Federal government’s Soviet-esque spy arsenal called the “administrative subpoena” — the power of which has been emboldened in recent years by the Patriot Act and about 335 other Federal statutes — you no longer have the right to remain secure in your home, papers and effects.
The administrative subpoena gives Federal bureaucrats the ability to glean a variety of information about you from just about any entity that you choose to conduct business with. And while the government would have you believe that the tool is necessary to thwart terrorism and drug activity, an exposé published by Wired tells a different story:
Some of the stranger statutes authorizing administrative subpoenas involve the Agriculture Department’s power to investigate breaches of the Floral Research and Consumer Information Act and the Fresh Cut Flowers and Fresh Cut Greens Promotion and Information Act. The Commerce Department has administrative subpoena power for enforcing laws relating to the Atlantic tuna and the Northern Pacific halibut. It also has those powers when it comes to enforcing the National Weather Modification Act of 1976, requiring “any person to submit a report before, during, or after that person may engage in any weather modification attempt or activity.”
The administrative subpoena is also widely used to extract information from cellphone and Internet providers including location data, Web activity and information regarding private correspondence.