Just as Voltaire had to flee to exile from the French king’s arbitrary order of imprisonment without trial in the Bastille (first to Great Britain and then later to Amsterdam), so any American seeking privacy from the prying eyes of the Federal government must now try to find an email provider abroad that would resist the pressure of the American authorities. While it is legitimate for the police to gain access to someone’s records, such as emails, where there is evidence that the person committed a crime, it isn’t legitimate for the government to go on a fishing expedition through a person’s papers and effects to get pointers on how to arrest that person.
Intensive government surveillance of whom all citizens call, from where and for how long, isn’t warranted because at the beginning the police have no reason to suspect a crime. It seems increasingly clear that this information is being shared with local police in hopes of making a minor pot bust, as a form of harassment. There are disturbing indications, moreover, that the government is lying when it says it is not collecting the substance of emails or phone calls.