Remember the good ol’ days where the tinfoil hat-adorned would rant and rave about government surveillance? When a conspiracy nut would rant about absurdly-sophisticated government surveillance of a massive population, many in society would politely listen, but dismiss such lunacy as the ravings of the truly paranoid.
We no longer have that luxury. The “ravings” by apparent nutcases appear to be prophetic in hindsight. The federal government has, for years, been spying on every single electronic communication in the U.S. and worse yet, the government has only admitted to conducting the surveillance operations they are caught conducting.
How many other government programs are out there dedicated to surveilling the public that we don’t know about?
One such program was unearthed in the Bay Area of California as the FBI has been planting microphones in public places to secretly eavesdrop on and record conversations.
I know, I know, it sounds crazy. I am well aware; however, if one would have asserted in 2012 that the NSA was monitoring every American’s electronic communication, that, too, would have been considered paranoia.
Imagine standing at a bus stop, talking to your friend and having your conversation recorded without you knowing. It happens all the time, and the FBI doesn’t even need a warrant to do it.
Federal agents are planting microphones to secretly record conversations.
Jeff Harp, a KPIX 5 security analyst and former FBI special agent said, “They put microphones under rocks, they put microphones in trees, they plant microphones in equipment. I mean, there’s microphones that are planted in places that people don’t think about, because that’s the intent!”
FBI agents hid microphones inside light fixtures and at a bus stop outside the Oakland Courthouse without a warrant to record conversations, between March 2010 and January 2011.
Federal authorities are trying to prove real estate investors in San Mateo and Alameda counties are guilty of bid rigging and fraud and used these recordings as evidence.
Harp said, “An agent can’t just go out and grab a recording device and plant it somewhere without authorization from a supervisor or special agent in charge.”
The lawyer for one of the accused real estate investors who will ask the judge to throw out the recordings, told KPIX 5 News that, “Speaking in a public place does not mean that the individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy…private communication in a public place qualifies as a protected ‘oral communication’… and therefore may not be intercepted without judicial authorization.”
It very well may be true that an alleged criminal has no expectation of absolute privacy. However, one should also be able to presume that he or she is not being secretly recorded at a bus stop.
Though we should understand that we are not truly alone when we are in public, does that mean that we should also be expected to accept having our every utterance secretly recorded by an all-knowing federal agency?