More than two decades beyond 1984 the Thought Police have a huge presence and demand unlimited access inside our heads. Nonsense you say? Just ask Michael T Arnold. He returned from the Philippines to the LAX Airport with his laptop computer and U.S. Customs during a routine search read his mind or in this case his computer hard drive. Unfortunately Arnold’s thoughts about children engaged in sexual activity.
Child pornography was located on the computer’s hard drive and now Arnold faces years in prison. Los Angeles Federal Judge, Dean D. Pregerson granted a defense motion to suppress the hard drive evidence from court proceedings. The government lawyers appealed and we now will wait for the courts to speak about this issue.
The prognosis for Mr. Arnold and the privacy of the rest of the nation is not good. The Fifth Circuit Court Of Appeals seems to think a hard drive that contains financial, reminder memos, lawyer client, doctor patient, and trade secret information deserves no special protection in an unrelated child porn case. I suspect there will be a privacy showdown in the Supreme Court in the next few years.
Today cops include computers and their storage devices are in every request for a search warrant and judges sign the warrants without a second thought even when there seems to be no connection to a crime or the subject of the investigation does not own or even know how to use a computer.
Police evidence lockers are filled with thousands of seized computers that languish for years waiting for forensic examination and possible court trials. By the time computers are returned to innocent owners their computers and their operating systems are outdated.
The sexual exploitation of children is really ugly. Police probing into our thoughts and hard drives is far worse. Old established investigative methods of locating, rounding up, trying, and punishing pedophiles still work rather well. Even without the Thought Police we have always netted enough of these sick bastards to overflow our prisons. We don’t need the Thought Police in America!