@cboyack on The Government's Use of Private Information to Target Individuals
Ever wonder how the government is accessing private citizens' data and using it to target individuals without evidence of "wrongdoing" (like with January 6th)? If so, you won't want to miss the latest episode of The Brian Nichols Show. Join Brian Nichols as he talks with Connor Boyack, the head of the Libertas Institute, a non-profit organization that advocates for laws to increase freedom.
In this episode, they delve into the government's ability to use geofence warrants to track individuals and their phones, and the technology behind these warrants that allows the government to collect and store data about the location of devices for years. But that's not all. Connor shares a disturbing story about his friend Scott, who was interrogated by the FBI without an attorney present simply because he was near the Capitol on J6.
This episode will leave you thinking about the government's use of private information and how it affects our individual freedoms. Tune in now for an eye-opening conversation that you won't want to miss!
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Brian Nichols 0:16
So how does the government get all the information they have about us? Yeah, let's talk about that. Instead of focusing on winning arguments, we're teaching the basic fundamentals of sales and marketing and how we can use them to win in the world of politics, teaching you how to meet people where they're at on the issues they care about. Welcome to The Brian Nichols Show. Well, hey there, folks, Brian Nichols, here on The Brian Nichols Show. And thank you for joining us on of course, another unfilled episode. I am as always, your humble host joining us live from our B and C Studios here in lovely Eastern Indiana, don't run out here and prospecting techniques put your business at risk. We're hitting a recession, folks don't get stuck behind getting better sales and messaging tips over at Brian Nichols. consulting.com. Folks, yeah, if you've been paying attention to what's been going on with the releasing of all this information from the the January 6 videotapes that had previously been maintained behind closed doors, we're learning a lot of folks who they realize not only was what we were told as a narrative was not the case, but also that the narrative is now actually crumbling. But it raises some questions. How did the government know about all the specific people at the J six hearings or the J six protests without actually knowing them specifically? Well, to join us today talk about how government has been digging deep into the different areas while they probably shouldn't be joining us from the Libertas Institute, the one and only Connor boy, Akbar turns The Brian Nichols Show Connor Welcome back.
Connor Boyack 1:43
Hey, thanks for having me.
Brian Nichols 1:45
Absolutely. Thanks for joining us. And I'm looking forward to digging into all things privacy related because yeah, that's definitely a topic of conversation that's raised up more recently, we've just watched here as the January 6 protesters who they are seeing the truth, right. And really, it's the truth, as seen through the eyes of CCTV, because Tucker Carlson, he got the actual raw tapes from Kevin McCarthy. And now we're seeing all the stuff that we were told why we really shouldn't be paying attention to but also it opens up a lot more questions for privacy concerns. But Connor before we get there, do us a favor, introduce yourself once again to The Brian Nichols Show audience and this awesome organization, the Libertas Institute.
Connor Boyack 2:23
Yeah, so I'm what I like to call a full time freedom fighter, I run a nonprofit where we do education and advocacy trying to get laws changed, we've changed over 100 laws in our home state and across the country. And about a dozen of them are innovative, first of their kind, the whole country. So we're kind of a high impact Think Tank, if you will, trying to figure out ways to shrink the government increase our freedom. And, and so that's been a lot of fun. We've done this for about a decade. I'm most known publicly for the Tuttle twins books, which have sold millions of copies, and help young kids learn about the ideas of freedom. help parents also learn about the ideas of freedom, because many have never learned in school as well. So entire families are kind of coming in to the libertarian world and understanding the ideas of freedom. And that's been a fun project through the total twin sets. I spend my days just figuring out how to persuade more people to appreciate, support and defend the ideas of freedom.
Brian Nichols 3:18
Amen. Well, we need that right now more than ever, and thank God you're doing doing it through the route of education. Right, and you're doing so in a fun way. The Tuttle twins books, they're engaging, they're fun to pick up and they're fun for parents to read to their kids. Now, I'm expecting my first year on the way so Tuttle twins will be definitely part of our library. And I recommend anybody out there who has kids, or heck, you just trying to figure out some his liberty stuff. Maybe you all start, quite literally with the basics, go ahead and grab the Tuttle twins. But we're not here to talk about Tuttle twins, unfortunately today, but hey, I will say we did have a great episode back a couple of months ago where we talked all things settled twin. So we'll include that here at the end of the episode. But today, Connor, you're joining us to talk about not only some wins that you guys have had as at the Libertas Institute, talking about privacy laws, but also a lot of concerns that have been raised up specifically, we're talking about the January 6, protests. Now, there's a lot here behind the scenes in terms of kind of leading up to where we are today in this conversation. So do us a favor, set some context and some groundwork in terms of what happened? How did we get here? And what's the implications of what's going forward right now?
Connor Boyack 4:17
Well, I think everyone knows what January 6 refers to it's this occasion when a lot of Trump supporters were going to protest, perceived election fraud, and they all showed up at the Capitol. It was Pete largely peaceful protests. And then there was a, you know, minority of situations and individuals that, you know, caused some problems. And then the Democrats have been making a big deal about how it's the greatest insurrection, you know, since the Civil War, the biggest threat to our democracy since the Civil War. So there's been a particular narrative that's been put out there. As you alluded to earlier, Tucker Carlson got access to some of the raw camera footage, dispelled some of that narrative show that we've been lied to, gee, we're all shocked by these people in Congress who have had this job ended up. What I find interesting though is I'll use my friend, I'll just use his first name, because that was permission to share his story publicly, his name's Scott. And he's kind of a Trump supporter, he was very concerned with what was happening. And so he was there that day. He's a successful entrepreneur. He's not a rabble rouser or anything that he wanted to go and, and just be part of those events and show his support for an issue that he was really concerned with. So he was there, the day of January 6, he didn't go inside the building, he wasn't part of the you know, rowdy crowd that was causing any issues. But while he was still in DC, his wife called him and two FBI agents showed up at his house on January 7, and interrogated his wife without him present or an attorney or anyone else and started questioning her and everything. And, you know, you might say, okay, big deal, but this was happening across the country. And of course, any interaction between the government and an individual if you got someone who talks back, if you got someone who's, you know, not willing to put up with crap from FBI agents, or whatever those altercations are those those circumstances can lead to altercations that lead to significant problems. So we want to minimize or eliminate the context between the government and the individual. And so even to that, I say, Well, yeah, sure. They showed up at his house, they interviewed his wife, big deal. But anytime that type of thing happens, they can, you know, see something, they can manufacture charges, they can arrest you for disorderly conduct or interfering with an investigation and all kinds of crazy things. But the question is, how do those FBI agents show up at his house within 24 hours of him being in DC? And it's because of what's called a geofence warrant? Now, as I understand, Brian, you're kind of in the telecom space, do you understand the tech side of how this works? For those who don't know, your phone, obviously, you know, is tracking everywhere you go. That's how we can use our maps. And you can use Find a friend and all these technologies to track people. Well, the cell phone companies and the providers like Google and others, they preserve all of that data in a database. That means on their computers, they know everywhere you've been or rather where your device has been for years. And they harvest all this information, which has its interesting use cases in the market where you can advertise to people different ways. I think that's something you're familiar with as well. But in a government context, it allows the FBI to go to google or Go to Verizon, and say, Hey, here's this map, this geofence around the US Capitol, we want to know every single device that was within that border within that geofence on this particular day, during this particular time, and they scoop up all of these people's information, including my friend, Scott, who weren't guilty of any crime, they weren't even alleged to have been committing a crime, and yet they get so scooped up in this investigation. And that's the trouble with government having access to not just surveillance, which we all know about what the NSA and everything else, but this historical surveillance where they can go back in time, and they can go to these companies and say we want to know anyone who was there on that day in that time, that really empowers the government and scary new ways. And except for a law that we just got passed in Utah last week. There are no laws around the country governing this. And so it's kind of a wild wild west of government agencies, law enforcement agencies using this technology in this way.
Brian Nichols 8:19
You would think just at the onset hearing what you just outlined, that the telco companies would say, um, no, this is our customers private information, and we're gonna say, No, thanks. But no thanks, Mr. Government. Why why is that not the response? Connor?
Connor Boyack 8:36
For some companies, it is for other companies, it is not. So some companies have a policy to comply with any lawful government request, which includes just a subpoena or request from the government. Other companies are a bit more, shall we say reluctant to give out that information without a warrant. So then you say, Well, why are judges authorized authorizing a warrant for this? At all? This is kind of a split issue across the country, because think of it this way. Why do we have the Fourth Amendment the constitutional amendment that protects our right to privacy? Why do we have that? We have it because the founding fathers were pissed off at the British redcoats, who would write themselves what were called writs of assistance, basically permission slips, where they would say, Oh, I'm gonna search this whole block in Boston, you know, and they would be the judge and the jury and everything else. And they would just authorize themselves to do these broad searches. And the founding fathers were pissed at it. They hated that how invasive it was. So in the Fourth Amendment, they said that your search has to be particularized to a place or a person or a thing, right? You can't just say, I want to search a whole block, you got to say, I want to search that home because I have credible reason to believe that there is evidence of a crime there. You have to be specific, and that is kind of the beauty of the Fourth Amendment as we have it today. So then why in the world are some of these judges across the country authorizing these geofence warrants which are not particularized In any way at all, because there is no suspected individual, what they're saying is, we want to go into Google's database or horizons database or whoever. And we want to know everyone who was there on this day. It's a broad search. It's a fishing expedition. It is not a focused particularized search. And so we think there's a lot of constitutional problems with it. Some companies recognize that and they're saying, Look, you know, whether a warrant is signed or not, you know, that's up to the courts to figure out the constitutionality, but we're not going to give you information without a warrant. But other companies and and think of it this way, a lot of cell phone companies, they'll do what are called tower dumps. Every time you're driving along the freeway, your cell phone is pinging different towers, cell phone towers, and then relaying calls or texts through those towers. Well, you can go to a specific tower, if you think that hey, we think a criminal past by this tower within a you know, 10 mile radius or whatever, you can go to the company that owns that tower, and get a download of every phone, that ping that tower, the time, the distance, the triangulation, all this kind of stuff. So this data is just in abundance. And it's a concern when the government has unfettered warrantless access. But even we question whether a warrant can be given for some of the stuff given that it's not a particular I search,
Brian Nichols 11:12
it's, it's like giving a golden slip to the government to say, do what you want when you get all this data? Because they can quite literally go through years, years and years of your personal information, where you've been who you've been around, because then they can just start triangulating, right, they say they find a couple other people. Oh, they were at the same place at the same time? Oh, well, we're gonna start putting a plus b equals c together. And and that leads down to very dark pads. And I guess, Connor? I mean, that leads to the question, What can we do to fight back? I mean, you guys are fighting the good fight there in Utah. But unfortunately, that's not good enough for the other 49 states out there. So what more can we do to try to protect ourselves, but also play a little defense while also playing offense?
Connor Boyack 11:56
Yeah, that's a critical question. So as I mentioned, we just got the first law in the country pass restricting these geofence warrants. Our goal is to now shot this around to other states, we've got partners across the country that we work with both organizations and legislators themselves, and try and get them to pass similar legislation this year. And next, with the eventual goal, probably when we have a better administration at the federal level in place of of getting Congress to pass a similar law and put some guardrails around how this technology is used. What I would point your listeners to if they don't already know, there's a website called spn.org. It stands for state policy, network spn.org. And what this is, is it's the coalition, the National Coalition of you might say, right of center, civic groups, think tanks, nonprofits that are working on freedom in your state at a state level. So you can go to spn.org, you click directory, you'll see the map, you find your state, and then you can see which groups are working in your backyard, reach out to them, join their email list, go to their events, ping them on social media, say, Hey, do you guys work on privacy, heard about this geofence thing, or whatever your issue is, you can connect with these organizations working in your backyard to both play defense and play offense. I want to mention one important thing about this policy, because it has a lot of restrictions for when government can use this and for which crimes and so forth, one of the most important things I feel that we did in this law that we just got passed was prohibit the government from doing what's called appending data. So think of it this way, if I get a bunch of data from, from a cell phone company, and it's got cell phone numbers, not their name, not their address, but it's got cell phone numbers, and it's got all this other stuff. Well, I can take that data set. And I can match it against any number of other data sets that I might have access to either the government or the private sector that have phone number data, and I could join the two data sets. And suddenly, I've enriched that first data set that I got from the Verizon or T Mobile or whoever. I've enriched it by joining it with this other data set. And that's how the government can take this so called anonymized information, or whatever. And they can enrich it and expand it so that they know all kinds of things about the people involved. Our law that we just got past prohibits the government, when they get this kind of geofence data, it's narrowed, it's limited, it's restricted, and all this kind of stuff. But then even then, even when they get this narrowed data that they're more focused on a specific time specific place, keeping it very tight and narrow, even then, we prohibit them from doing any type of data appending or enriching or anything like that, they can just look at the data that they got, and try and make sense of it. They can't try and just, you know, do all these merges between databases and try and create this social credit system, if you will, of just massive government surveillance with all these different databases. So to me, that's one of the most important things that we've done. This is now the gold standard. Frankly, it is the only standard because no state has done this yet. And so to your question, I would invite your listeners to go to spm.org Find the group in your state go connect with them, support them, and then if this issue or whatever issue matters to you go talk to them about and say, Hey, what do you guys working on this? Can I help? Or what can we do? And and those are the groups in your backyard and they can use all the support they can get
Brian Nichols 15:09
the stuff spooky, like just to hear us talk about it so casually that yeah, this is possible. Not only is it possible, it's happening right now, that part still blows me a little bit away. So I guess it goes to another question that popped up as we're going through this, right? We see, regardless of laws, the government will still find ways to sneak behind and figure out ways to violate that law. So what can we do from a non law standpoint? Is there anything technology wise that you'd recommend, or something that folks can start to do right now is that they're better maintaining their privacy?
Connor Boyack 15:42
Yeah, that's a tough question. I mean, we're literally carrying surveillance devices in our pockets. Right, I spoke at a conference a couple of months ago, and the individual had a dumb phone, one of the old flip phones because he didn't want to be tracked, he just wanted to make calls. And granted, his calls are still being tracked in the sense that the cell phone tower is able to say, you know, where he was roughly when he connected with them. But, but this is the unfortunate thing about our society, there are so many trade offs for convenience, where our phones and our computers do all kinds of amazing things to simplify. And, and, you know, make our lives enjoyable. And so in contrast, are in a trade off to enjoy these amazing technologies, the government has access to them. And so it's very difficult. I mean, at a minimum, you gotta be using like a VPN, you want to be trying to mask your location, your search activity, and all these things. You know, dumb phone is kind of an extreme measure. But look, if you're gonna go to the Capitol for some kind of protests, maybe leave your phone in the hotel room or something I don't know, you know, be judicious about if I'm going to piss off the government. Maybe I should minimize their ability to, to search on me. It's so sad that people see oh, I have nothing to hide, you know, I'm not a criminal. So what do I care and people are just kind of shrugged as it comes to their privacy. Literally, I'm looking at my window right now on the other side of my laptop. And I can see from my office window, it's about five or six miles away up, nestled here in the mountains of Bluffdale, Utah, is the NSA is facility. This facility goes like stories and stories underground, deep into the mountain where they can have these computers, these servers all cooled more easily. That is where our data is stored that NSA facilities across the country. This one is basically the big series of hard drives, where even this conversation probably and so much of what we do online, is being archived into what Ed Snowden calls a permanent record, which is kind of like these geofence warrants, it's just your permanent, locate your, your permanent record of your historical location. And so what can we do? Well, I think we got to be using things like VPN and other technologies to mask our location, mask our activity, even if you're doing nothing wrong, because chances are you are doing something wrong. There's so many laws, so many regulations on the book, that if a prosecutor if an investigator wants to come after you, they can find a way to do it. And so we should really try and minimize their ability to do that by using some of these technologies that can maybe mitigate some of the issues. But definitely, if you're gonna go protest the government, maybe not take your phone with you. And that'll give you a leg up.
Brian Nichols 18:12
Oh, man, Connor, I hate the fact that we even have to have this conversation. It's like with, and this is part of like the double edged sword, as we go further and further, and we have our little smart devices here, right. And the technology gets better and better and better. Part of the problem with that is that it gives government more ammunition and more resources to then go after us. So while we're still fighting a good fight, and we're actually we're making steps in advancements with the technology, it still sometimes feels like we're still taking two steps forward, one step back, or three steps back, or 10 steps back with whatever program the government decides to put in place. So I mean, I guess this is why we have to keep on fighting, right. And this is why in sales, and politics and business and life, if you're not growing, if you're not fighting, you're losing, you're you're dying, you have to continuously move forward. So thank you for what you guys are doing over the Libertas Institute, obviously fighting the good fight from a legal standpoint, but also helping change the culture. So we're changing the way we're talking about this. Because the fact that this is even, like the conversation means that we as a society, must be tacitly okay with it, we've gotten to the point where we have abdicated such responsibility or personal responsibility in this case of trying to maintain our own privacy that we have neglected to see what actually is being done with our data. And in this case, to your point, it's being put into servers for a permanent record. That's creepy. That's like dystopian Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter thing. It's what what are we doing? So that's my final thoughts. I guess as we wrap things up today, Connor, what final thoughts do you have for us? Hopefully, some optimism some proverbial white pill?
Connor Boyack 19:47
Well, you know, freedom that isn't defended is eroded. And so if we care about freedom and has to be defended, it's not going to defend itself. And look, everyone's busy, they've got jobs, they've got to their focus. That's why organizations like mine and those other ones I mentioned that s can exist is to kind of centralized people's financial support and limited time they can offer and try and do some good with it. So my call to action would be like, if you're frustrated with things in your community, your state, if you didn't like how they dealt with COVID, if you don't like what the feds are doing, with January 6, or whatever, right, go get involved, it doesn't have to be a lot of time. At a minimum, follow these organizations on social media, join their email list, see if there's any events coming up, start to dip your toe in the water. Because the more of us that do that, the better. We're going to chance we're going to have at defending freedom, we can't do this alone, we need a huge coalition of people. We need people who understand sales and marketing and persuasion and the tools of influence communication, we need a lot more people. I mean, our organization is able to do a lot, but we could do so much more with so many more people. So consider this an invitation. For all of you listening to get involved even in just small ways, and dip your toe in the water, you'll start to warm up to it, you'll do more and more and even bigger things. I used to be a web developer, I don't know I'm running this think tank with like 85 people working here. I don't know what I'm doing. I was just a dude that got involved a little bit, and then it led to something else and then something else. So anyone can do it, if I can do it. And so that's my call to action is just engaged. Go connect with these organizations and see where it leads.
Brian Nichols 21:13
Amen. Well, folks, there's your call to action for today's episode. And if you feel so compelled to please obviously go ahead and do that. But also spread the message spread the word share today's episode, and when you do please go ahead tag yours truly at be Nichols. Liberty, Connor, where can folks go ahead and support you but also go ahead and follow the amazing organization that is the Libertas Institute and you're awesome content you guys are putting out there like the Tuttle twins.
Connor Boyack 21:36
Thank you. So yeah, Tuttle twins Libertas Institute, just search for these on your favorite social media channel or my name Connor black. We're posting all the time trying to educate people and move the message forward. So encourage everyone to go connect with us and see how we can be helpful to you in the future.
Brian Nichols 21:51
Perfect. Well, folks, if you got some value from today's episode, do me a favor beyond giving it a share? Please go ahead support Connor and his amazing organization, they are doing such great work. And if you have not had the chance yet go buy some Tuttle twins. This stuff is exactly what we need in order to help change the culture, we change the culture. By changing the conversations we change the conversations by actually making a difference and doing things differently requires us to make a change. So it actually it requires folks like Connor and the baristas Institute to actually go ahead and lead by example. So folks, please help support folks who are leading by example, financially, this isn't free, right. And if it was free, oh, my goodness, it'd be a lot easier, I'm sure. But unfortunately, that's not how it works. We have to be able to support this stuff. So please go out with your hard earned dollars and support those who are fighting the good fight leading the path forward. For liberty. We need to do this together as a team. I know libertarians guys get together as a team work together because we're going to fall apart if we don't and we're at a point right now I don't think we can really play this game too much longer without seeing some really nasty stuff coming down the pike here. So with that being said, Connor, thank you for joining us. And folks, if you got value from today's episode, join us on another episode starting right here where I sat down yes with Connor Boy Yeah, can we talk all things about the Libertas Institute as well as the Tuttle twins as over here on YouTube? If you're joining us here on the podcast version of the show, click that artwork in your podcast catcher, it'll bring you over to Brian Nichols show.com where you can find today's episode of nearly 700 episodes of The Brian Nichols Show. And oh by the way, when you're there Do us a favor hit a five star rating and review and tell us why you enjoy listening to five episodes per week. Love to hear about it. So that's all we have for you today. With that being said Brian Nichols signing off here on The Brian Nichols Show for Connor boy Yak. We'll see you tomorrow.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Connor Boyack founded Libertas Institute in 2011 and serves as its president. Named one of Utah’s most politically influential people by The Salt Lake Tribune, Connor’s leadership has led to dozens of legislative victories spanning a wide range of areas such as privacy, government transparency, property rights, drug policy, education, personal freedom, and more.
A public speaker and author of over 30 books, he is best known for The Tuttle Twins books, a children’s series introducing young readers to economic, political, and civic principles. A California native and Brigham Young University graduate, Connor lives in Lehi, Utah, with his wife and two children.
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