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September 14, 2017

THE SPY IN ALL OF US

With the latest revelations of the junior senator, we all have to ask, can our text messages be used as evidence against us?

The basic answer is NO. Using a photograph of a person holding the phone and reading the contents is wrong on so many levels.

Disclaimer – I am not endorsing or supporting any side of the issue. I am just stating the law in general terms. When you read this, let’s think of any government official looking into a private person’s phone messages.

Constitutional right to privacy

The 1987 Constitution under Section 3 of Article, it states:

The privacy of communications and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires as prescribed by law.

Any evidence obtained in violation of this shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

Now, laws are sometimes difficult to read. Let me simplify for you. Privacy in communications and correspondence (in any shape or form) is sacred. It is absolutely protected with two exceptions: (1) Court order and (2) by specific provision in a law regarding public safety or order.

The second paragraph is called the exclusionary rule. It states that any communication or correspondence obtained WITHOUT a court order or specific provision of law CANNOT BE USED in ANY proceeding for ANY purpose. I hope that ALL CAPS makes it clear.

Now, if this rule is not observed, no one is safe. This constitutional provision applies to everyone but more so against any government official. To quote Father Bernas (an Atenean constitutional expert), to hold otherwise (the privacy law), would opt for a government of men and not laws. Every police agent would feel authorized to snoop.

With the tussle between the junior senator and the cabinet secretary, pretend for a moment that the text was a mundane message between friends. Does the Senator have the privilege and the right to know that the cabinet secretary is texting his friend? Of course, the message turned out to be a personal attack against the junior senator. To accept the infirmity of the source of the text message is supporting the idiom, “ends justify the means”. But when you accept that, you must accept ALL its applications. You cannot split the ratification. “Ends justify the means” would allow torture in acquiring information to be unabated. “Ends justify the means” would allow opening your bank accounts to the DOJ.

While this article seems to lean towards the bespectacled secretary, it’s actually leaning towards protecting privacy for any and all communications. I am sure all of you will agree with absolute protection if it was the justice chief quoting a text from the junior senator to her daughter.

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