My Own Pie

Libertarian Thoughts from Renaissance Guy

Big Brother Uses Google Earth

with 3 comments

     Have you heard that a town on Long Island has used Google Earth to track down illegal swimming pools?  If that is not exactly and precisely what George Orwell warned about in 1984, then I cannot imagine what would be.  The most obvious problem with this government action is that it violates the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

     It’s not that I am against using satellite technology to fight crime.  I am against illegal searches, as we all should be.  Maybe the town got warrants from a judge, but that has not been reported.  Would a judge even grant a warrant for such a thing?

     Assuming that they did get warrants, I still have a problem with a local government requiring people to pay money to them in order to have a swimming pool.  In one interview they couched it as a safety issue.  Another small intrusion by the nanny state!  It’s in the homeowners’ own interest to make sure that a pool is safe.  It is their responsibility, and if they do not fulfill it, they must pay the consequences.

     Another problem that I have with it is that it is extortion by the government.  Riverhead has reportedly made $75,000 so far by busting illegal pool owners.  I suppose it’s another way to soak the rich, pun intended.  Then again, I’m not sure that owning a pool makes one rich, and I would guess that most rich people just pay the licensing fees, since they can afford them.  (Unless they have the ethics of John Kerry who tried to shield his fancy yacht from taxes in his home state.)

     I wonder if Riverhead paid the licensing fee for Google Earth Pro, which Google requires of anybody who uses the service to make money.

     I also wonder how much they have spent in administration costs to track down these evil pool owners.

     A final problem that I want to mention is that it is inconsistent with our overall national climate.  In a country where the presence of undocumented foreigners is winked at, it hardly seems fair or porportional to go after illegal swimming pools.


Written by ambrosianideas

August 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm

3 Responses

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  1. […] I wrote about illegal searches in New York in “Big Brother Uses Google Earth.” Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)A Libertarian Christmas PoemNew Posts at […]

  2. Not sure one needs a warrant for that which is in plain sight, as most pools would be.

    Having said that, I agree with you about the fees/nanny state/consequences argument. However, without requiring insurance, it would be difficult in this litigious society to be prepared for possible consequences. But that’s for another day…


    August 12, 2010 at 6:26 pm

  3. Generally speaking, as an ex-cop you do not need a warrant for anything you can see from a public location. The 4th wouldn’t apply in that instance.

    If the law can stand on a public sidewalk and see an offense in your back yard they can act and enter your property without warrant to “enforce” the law.

    I would bet that the argument is the satellite that took the pictures is in a “public” location and so no warrant required. And, in our legal system they’d get away with it. It would be no different if the authorities were flying around in legal airspace and looking down and saw the pool.

    Now as to government involving itself where it is unneeded, well we could fill pages writing the list of what our nayyn shouldn’t be doing. 🙂


    August 12, 2010 at 9:30 pm

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