Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment famously protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” As capabilities for government surveillance rapidly develope alongside technology, the amendment has consistently been at the center of discussions over privacy and the scope of state power. In particular, NSA bulk surveillance has recently triggered a debate on the constitutionality of warrantless bulk collection under the Fourth Amendment, and on what should be considered a “reasonable” search in an increasingly digital age.

Latest in Fourth Amendment

Encryption

The Massachusetts High Court Rules That State Can Compel Password Decryption in Commonwealth v. Jones

According to the Pew Foundation, most Americans lock their cell phones, creating an obstacle for some law enforcement investigations—most notably, the FBI in its 2016 standoff with Apple over access to the San Bernardino attacker’s iPhone—and especially for state authorities, which have fewer resources than

Fourth Amendment

Opening a File Whose Hash Matched Known Child Pornography Is Not a ‘Search,’ Fifth Circuit Rules

The Fifth Circuit has handed down a fascinating computer search case in United States v. Reddick. Here's the question: If a private company runs a hash of a file and compares the hash to those of known images of child pornography, and it finds a match to a known image and forwards on the file to the government, is it a “search” for the government to then open the file to confirm it is child pornography?

Fourth Amendment

Public Utility's Recording of Home Energy Consumption Every 15 Minutes Is a 'Search,' Seventh Circuit Rules

In a fascinating decision, Naperville Smart Meter Awareness v. City of Naperville, the Seventh Circuit has held that a public utility commits a "search" of a home when it records every 15 minutes how much electricity the utility is providing the home, at least until the smart readers that enable this data collection come into general public use.

U.S. Supreme Court

Carpenter and the End of Bulk Surveillance of Americans

Writing for the majority in Carpenter v. United States, Chief Justice John Roberts called the court’s momentous Fourth Amendment decision “a narrow one.” The specific holding—that a warrant is required for law enforcement to access historical cell site location information (CSLI)—may indeed be narrow, and the decision rightfully cautions that “the Court must tread carefully” when considering new technologies.

Brett Kavanaugh

Judge Kavanaugh on the Fourth Amendment

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s views of the Fourth Amendment have drawn significant interest following his recent nomination to the Supreme Court. This post takes a close look at Kavanaugh’s key Fourth Amendment opinions. It does so with an eye to guessing how he might rule in search and seizure cases if he is confirmed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has a large Fourth Amendment docket. How might a Justice Kavanaugh approach those cases?

Fourth Amendment

When Does a Carpenter Search Start—and When Does It Stop?

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Carpenter v. United States raises lots of fascinating and novel Fourth Amendment questions. In this post I want to focus on one interesting and important set of questions: When does a Carpenter search start, and when does it stop? I don’t have a lot of answers, but I think the questions are important to consider. This post will explore the questions and will end with a set of hypotheticals that I think are worth pondering.

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