We live in an era when our entire digital life seems to have been declared public record by the FISA court. Our reliance on technology makes many of us open books to the prying eyes of law enforcement. ‘So what – I got nothing to hide,’ we tell ourselves.
That is until we consider that the average American probably commits 3 felonies a day.
According to the book, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, by Harvey A. Silvergate, because of the massive expansion of modern federal criminal laws, pretty much any one of us is a sitting duck for federal prosecutors to pin serious charges on…
“Three Felonies a Day is the story of how citizens from all walks of life—doctors, accountants, businessmen, political activists, and others—have found themselves the targets of federal prosecutions, despite sensibly believing that they did nothing wrong, broke no laws, and harmed not a single person. From the perspective of both a legal practitioner who has represented the wrongfully-accused, and of a legal observer who has written about these trends for the past four decades, Three Felonies a Day brings home how individual liberty is threatened by zealous crusades from the Department of Justice. Even the most intelligent and informed citizen (including lawyers and judges, for that matter) cannot predict with any reasonable assurance whether a wide range of seemingly ordinary activities might be regarded by federal prosecutors as felonies.” Harvey Silvergate
Examples abound of Silvergate’s theory in practice. The case of Luke Scaramazzo is one overt example. Scaramazzo operated a marijuana dispensary in accordance with California state law from 2004 to 2006, but was targeted by federal prosecutors and given 20 years in prison after making this rap video…
Other examples in recent memory include the unfortunate case of Aaron Swartz, who in July 2011 was arrested for allegedly scraping 4 million MIT papers from the JSTOR online journal archive. Swartz eventually committed suicide due to pressure and threats from federal prosecutors, who informed him that if he should fight the charges he would face decades in prison.
And what about the case of teen Justin Carter, who made a sarcastic comment on facebook and now sits in jail facing 8 years for charges of making a terroristic threat (see full story here)
So think twice before you post that subversive article, or send that email to your legislature, because someone with the power to put you in jail is always watching.