Tag Archive | Fourth Amendment

Drone Reading Roundup (Updated)

Disclaimer: These links were collected and accessed on April 8, 2012. This list is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather is a short bibliography of recent articles on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV/ sUAV) and drones, with a primary focus on the legal and policy issues surrounding their use within the United States.

FAA LEGISLATION AND REGULATION OF DRONES

  • Conference Report on H.R. 658, FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2012, Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 16 (February 1, 2012), House of Representatives, Pages H230 – H304, Posted to FAS Website: http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2012/02/faa-uas.html

VIDEOS

REFERENCES

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Obama admin wants warrantless access to cell phone location data

By Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, March 7, 2012

A Maryland court last week ruled that the government does not need a warrant to force a cell phone provider to disclose more than six months of data on the movements of one of its customers. … Judge Richard D. Bennett ruled that a warrant is not required to obtain cell-site location records (CSLR) from a wireless carrier. … The Obama administration laid out its position in a legal brief last month, arguing that customers have “no privacy interest” in CSLR held by a network provider. Under a legal principle known as the “third-party doctrine,” information voluntarily disclosed to a third party ceases to enjoy Fourth Amendment protection. …

For full text of this article, visit Obama admin wants warrantless access to cell phone location data.

Limits on the Private Sector after US v Jones

Three great articles by Robert Gellman on location privacy, on First Amendment & Fourth Amendment issues in the US Supreme Court’s GPS Tracking case (US v. Jones), and on the complexities of legislating privacy after US v Jonesin the Communia Blog of the Woodrow Wilson Center‘s Commons Lab.

Robert Gellman, JD is a privacy and information policy consultant in Washington, D.C. He served for 17 years on the staff of a subcommittee in the House of Representatives. He can be reached at bob [at] bobgellman. [dot] com or visit his website at http://www.bobgellman.com/.

Legislating Privacy After US v Jones

Legislating Privacy after U.S. v. Jones: Can Congress Limit Government Use of New Surveillance Technologies?

by Robert Gellman, JD, Communia Blog, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, January 25, 2012

The Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Jones, a case that addressed the use of global positioning system GPS tracking devices for law enforcement purposes, is hot privacy news. Almost immediately, the decision sparked numerous and sometimes conflicting comments. The issue here is whether the decision will prompt Congress to consider legislation and what that legislation might look like.

The majority opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia used a property-based approach to conclude that attaching a GPS device to a car and using the GPS to monitor the car’s movements on public streets constitutes a search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The narrow basis for the decision turned on the fact that the government physically occupied private property the car for the purpose of obtaining information.

A concurring opinion by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by three of his colleagues reached the same outcome, but Alito wanted to determine whether the car owner’s reasonable expectations of privacy were violated by the long-term monitoring of his car. Essentially, Alito thought that the majority’s property analysis was not scalable to present day surveillance issues and that an expectation of privacy standard would reach the same result without the baggage of the property-based approach.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the majority opinion, but she also filed a concurring opinion. She observed that physical intrusion is not always necessary for surveillance e.g., by tracking a cell phone and argued that how surveillance is done may affect an expectation of privacy. So in her opinion Sotomayor asked whether people reasonably expect that their movements will be recorded in a manner that allows the government to ascertain their political and religious beliefs, sexual habits, and more. She even questioned the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties. That was the holding in United States v. Miller, 425 U. S. 435, 443 1976 , a case increasingly criticized by privacy advocates as inconsistent with life today.

For full text of this article, which provides an insightful overview of what crafting and passing updated privacy legislation might entail, visit Legislating Privacy After US v Jones « Communia.

Robert Gellman, JD is a privacy and information policy consultant in Washington, D.C. He served for 17 years on the staff of a subcommittee in the House of Representatives. He can be reached at bob [at] bobgellman. [dot] com or visit his website at http://www.bobgellman.com/. Also check out his article Location Privacy: Is Privacy in Public a Contradiction in Terms?

Supreme Court GPS Tracking Case: Round-up and Resources

Updated February 20, 2012

UNITED STATES v. JONES
615 F. 3d 544, affirmed.

From Cornell University Legal Information Institute [HTML version has links to cited cases]:

From the Supreme Court and American Bar Association websites:

Legislation

In his written opinion, “Alito said the court and Congress should address how expectations of privacy affect whether warrants are required for remote surveillance using electronic methods that do not require the police to install equipment, such as GPS tracking of mobile telephones. Alito noted, for example, that more than 322 million cellphones have installed equipment that allows wireless carriers to track the phones’ locations (ABC News, Jan 23, 2012).” In his article linked below, Robert Gellman provides a nice overview of the complexities of the legislative process for updating privacy legislation after US v. Jones:

For a list of proposed location privacy legislation as of Fall 2011, visit the home page of Kevin Pomfret’s Centre for Spatial Law and Policy.

Law Review Articles and Essays

Case Summaries  and Commentaries (disclaimer: opinions and analyses are those of the original authors, not all may be accurate)

February 2012

January 2012

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What Does the Supreme Court GPS Ruling Mean for Technology and Privacy?

By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Digits, Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2012

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police violated the Fourth Amendment when they attached and used a GPS device to track a suspect’s vehicle without a warrant. … [But the Court’s decision] applies only to the placement and use of a GPS device that had to be attached to the suspect’s car. The justices said the device was an intrusion onto the suspect’s property, even if the car was being driven on public roads. The opinion doesn’t say anything about what would happen if the government were able to track the car through other electronic means, without ever touching the vehicle. …

For full text of the article, visit What Does the Supreme Court GPS Ruling Mean for Privacy? – Digits – WSJ.

Supreme Court Relies on Kerr’s Theory of Fourth Amendment and Property

As noted by Professor Daniel Solove, Orin Kerr is cited by the Supreme Court in both the majority opinion and in a concurring opinion of US v Jones for his article, The Fourth Amendment and New Technologies: Constitutional Myths and the Case for Caution, 102 Mich. L. Rev. 801 (2004).  The majority opinion relies heavily on Orin’s theory of the Fourth Amendment and property that he sets forth in the first part of his article.

The Fourth Amendment and New Technologies: Constitutional Myths and the Case for Caution

by Orin S. Kerr, George Washington University – Law School, 102 Mich. L. Rev. 801 (2004)

 Abstract: This article argues that courts should approach the Fourth Amendment with caution when technology is in flux. When a technology is new or developing rapidly, courts should adopt modest formulations of Fourth Amendment protections that recognize the effectiveness and institutional advantages of statutory privacy protections.

The cautious approach is justified on three grounds. First, caution is consistent with existing judicial practice. The reasonable expectation of privacy test generally has been used by the courts as a term of art that remains closely tied to property law concepts. When a technology implicates privacy but not property, current judicial practice tends to avoid broad interpretations of the Fourth Amendment.

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Supreme Court Ruled on GPS Tracking Case, Backs Privacy Rights

By Jess Bravin, Wall Street Journal, What They Know, January 23, 2012

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court ruled Monday [in United States v. Jones] that police must obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS tracker to a suspect’s vehicle, voting unanimously in one of the first major cases to test constitutional privacy rights in the digital age. … The court split 5-4 over the reasoning behind Monday’s decision, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority that as conceived in the 18th century, the Fourth Amendment’s protection of “persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” would extend to private property such as an automobile. …

For full text of the article, visit Supreme Court Backs Privacy Rights in GPS Case – WSJ.com.

For full text of the Court’s opinion in United States v. Jones, click here.

Are Pervasive Civilian Drones in Our Future?

A MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle prepares...

Image via Wikipedia

Difference engine: Unblinking eye in the sky, by N.V., Science and Technology, The Economist, January 13, 2012

When drones are used even by environmental activists to track down Japanese whaling vessels, it is a sure sign that UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are no longer the sole prerogative of the military. Police forces around the world are certainly keen to lay their hands on small pilotless aircraft to help them nab fleeing criminals and monitor crime scenes from above. … Any civilian activity that would be improved by having an aerial view—monitoring traffic, checking electricity cables and pipelines, surveying forestry and crops, taking aerial photographs, patrolling wooded areas for fire—could benefit from the use of UAVs. …

For full text of this article, visit Civilian drones: Difference engine: Unblinking eye in the sky | The Economist.

Are Drones Watching You?

The article “Are Drones Watching You?” provides a nice summary of U.S. case law regarding aerial surveillance with links to the cases.

By Jennifer Lynch, EFF, January 10, 2012

Today, EFF filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration seeking information on drone flights in the United States. The FAA is the sole entity within the federal government capable of authorizing domestic drone flights, and for too long now, it has failed to release specific and detailed information on who is authorized to fly drones within US borders.

For full text of the article, visit Are Drones Watching You? | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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