Big Brother: Secret Government Surveillance Camera Deepens Private Property Lawsuit
By Chris Bennett, AgWeb
September 19, 2022
Government surveillance cameras watch U.S. citizens on private land. Period. Full-stop.
Without warrant or probable cause, at the federal level and sometimes at the state level, government officials claim the power to enter private property, install secret cameras, and record at will—all without accountability or oversight.
Case in point: Following a lawsuit initiated by two hunting clubs, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) admitted to surveilling club members via a no-warrant trail camera. “We never had a clue it would be as obscene as having game cameras spying on us,” said Frank Stockdale, president of Punxsutawney Hunting Club. “It’s outrageous to think someone’s taking pictures of you on your own private property.”
“I don’t see how anybody has the right to film me,” echoed Punxsutawney member Mark Miller. “It shouldn’t be happening.”
Federal and state agencies often claim authority to clandestinely monitor private landowners via the Open Fields doctrine. Backed by the Supreme Court, Open Fields denies constitutional protection from warrantless searches to private acreage.
However, a glaring pile of surveillance questions is mounting related to the activities of federal and state officials across the U.S. How many no-warrant federal or state cameras currently operate (or operated in the past 25 years) on private land? If cameras are permissible without warrant, what prevents federal or state officials from setting up year-round, live video feeds on private property?
If federal or state officials—lacking a warrant, a judge’s nod, reasonable suspicion, or probable cause—can secretly place a surveillance camera on the land of private citizens, then why not install multiple cameras—5, 10, 20? If a month’s worth of photo surveillance can be collected, why not six months of coverage? Why not five years? Why not on a permanent basis?
Where is restraint? Where is accountability? The questions answer themselves.
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