The Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, Colo., on tracking suspects with GPS technology (Jan. 23) — The U.S. Supreme Court demonstrated that the U.S. Constitution is flexible enough to handle 21st century, high-tech issues, but it is solid enough to protect citizens’ rights even when dealing with such issues.
And by the way, the court did so unanimously.
The court ruled that police must obtain a search warrant before using Global Positioning System technology to track a criminal suspect.
Justices said that when law enforcement attaches a GPS unit to someone’s vehicle — as was done in a Washington, D.C., case that reached the Supreme Court — it amounts to a search and therefore a warrant is required.
That’s exactly the correct determination. Just because new technology makes it easier to track a person’s activities without going through the procedures that were once required, doesn’t mean that citizens give up their Fourth Amendment protections against illegal searches and seizures.
The Daily Freeman, Kingston, N.Y., on anti-piracy legislation (Jan. 21) — A week ago, we’d have bet you a weekend at the Mohonk Mountain House that not one in 20 adult Americans could tell you, even vaguely, what SOPA or PIPA are all about.
In a nutshell, the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act are anti-piracy bills sought by some of the biggest players in the U.S. entertainment industry.
But if you hadn’t heard about SOPA or PIPA, you surely knew that the Internet has made the stealing of intellectual property epidemic. It costs virtually nothing to copy and transmit digitized information and it’s easy.
There is no doubting that the producers of intellectual property have been getting ripped off in this new digital age and many of the perpetrators are offshore, beyond the immediate reach of U.S. law. So the biggest players in the production or marketing of that property decided to protect themselves in a time-honored American way: They sent guys with briefcases and wingtips up to Capitol Hill with a remedy.
The result was the anti-piracy legislation, which sought to get at the pirates by giving the owners of intellectual property new weapons against a broad array of targets.
We don’t disagree that intellectual property should be respected or that owners of that property should have legal means to protect their interests. But the proposed remedies were clearly the product of the entertainment industry’s interests, rather than a careful weighing them against what should be the superior free speech interests of all Americans as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The bills would have given the holders of copyrights overly broad power to force Internet providers and other Web-based businesses to stop doing business with alleged violators. Conceivably, the bills could have made citizens “facilitators” of copyright infringement simply by linking to a song or image. ...
In short order, some of the congressional sponsors of SOPA and PIPA promptly abandoned ship, which is now as dead in the water. ...
Minot (N.D.) Daily News on the Keystone XL pipeline (Jan. 23) — President Barack Obama’s recent rejection of the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas certainly won’t be the last word on the project, and even Democrats are supporting the pipeline’s eventual approval.
Obama rejected the 1,700-mile pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, through parts of six states en route to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast because there was not enough time to complete a needed environmental review of changes made to the project’s route. TransCanada Corp. is making changes to the route to avoid environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska, but the proposed changes have not been presented yet.
It’s easy to say, but politics should be set aside in this discussion. The Obama administration is seeking to put off a final decision until after the November election, a time frame that is unacceptable, while Republicans are upset about Obama postponing thousands of good-paying construction jobs.
We hope everyone realizes that the pipeline is in the country’s best interest ...
Let’s let the company resubmit the changes, do the environmental study as quickly as possible, and get this project back on track before the November election.