Court Victory for Charter Boat Captains Who No Longer Have to Let the Federal Government Spy on Them

Tyler Olson /
Tyler Olson /

The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals says that the federal government does NOT have the right to know your exact location on planet earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year without a valid warrant issued by a court. This was a huge relief to all commercial fishermen and charter boat operators in the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys, and the East Coast of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Because prior to the lawsuit the Fifth Circuit just ruled on, the government WAS doing that to them. And it was charging them all expenses related to allowing the government to spy on them at all times illegally.

This case, which a group of commercial fishermen just won against the federal government, highlights just how powerful the “Deep State” really is. President Donald Trump (America’s real president who won the 2020 election by a lot) was in charge of the federal government when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Commerce suddenly forced this new regulation on all commercial fishermen.

Under the new regulation, all charter boat captains from America were required to install, at their own expense, a geo-position location service (GPS) device on their boats or risk going to prison while their city or county government seizes all their assets. The cost of these GPS devices for commercial fishing boats runs from $3,000 to $6,000 apiece, making them extremely cost prohibitive for small businesses. Especially since it was a new requirement that the administrative state simply made up out of thin air.

Fortunately, several charter boat captains sued the federal government over this onerous new requirement. After finally receiving their day in court, they won!

The boat captains were represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA). The NCLA attorneys argued that the new NOAA rule violated their clients’ rights to privacy, due process, and freedom of movement. The NCLA was absolutely correct from a legal standpoint, a constitutional standpoint, and a moral standpoint.

Think about how much right the federal government has to intrude on your privacy at all hours of the day.

Does the government have the right to know when you are on the toilet? Does the government have the right to know when you’re taking a nap on the couch? Does the government have the right to know when you are getting frisky with your spouse, and exactly where you are doing so?

Most Americans would blush at those questions and answer, “No, the government does not have the right to track me at all hours of every day for eternity.” Especially if the government never obtained a legal warrant to spy on you so completely and thoroughly in every aspect of your life. But that was exactly what the government was doing to commercial charter fishing businesses.

The average charter boat owner in America makes $26,000 per year, and the government wanted to charge them each up to $6,000 to install spyware on their boats because – why? No one is really sure, other than the fact that the government wants to spy on everyone at all times.

The court ruled that the requirement “violates the Administrative Procedure Act because it is arbitrary and capricious, in turn, because the Government failed to address Fourth Amendment issues when considering it and failed to rationally consider the associated costs and benefits. The requirement that charter boats transmit their GPS location to the Government appears to be a search, and no warrant authorizes that search.”

Hallelujah! This was a big victory for privacy rights advocates and boat captains. The Deep State will have to wait for another day before they can spy on charter boats at all times without a warrant.