Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Supreme Court Says Police Cannot Search Cellphones

A visitor takes photos with his cellphone outside the Supreme Court in April, when the justices considered whether police may search cellphones during arrests. Cellphones and smartphones generally cannot be searched by police without a warrant during arrests, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday in a major clash between privacy and technology. Ruling on two […]

EFF Amicus Brief: Video Surveillance Of A Home For A Month Without A Warrant Violates Fourth Amendment

Profile image (Before It’s News) Just because a jogger can see the outside of your home on a public street doesn’t mean you’ve surrendered all your privacy expectations in the home. However, that seemingly obvious concept is being put to the test in a federal criminal case in Washington state, which involves the constitutionality of using a camera mounted on a pole outside a house to allow the police to watch the home for almost a month. Senior District Court Judge Edward Shea invited EFF to submit an amicus brief in the case and Monday we filed our brief , arguing prolonged warrantless video surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment .  In United States v. Vargas , local police in Franklin County, Washington suspected Leonel Vargas of drug trafficking and in April 2013, installed a pole camera on a public road overlooking Vargas’ rural home . They did not get a search warrant to install or use the camera, which was pointed squarely at the front door and driveway of the home. Officers had the ability to pan the camera around and zoom in and out all from the comfort of the police station. They watched the outside of Vargas’ home for more than a month, taking notice of who visited him and what cars they were driving. They observed no criminal activity until a month after they began snooping, when officers saw him shooting a gun at beer bottles in what appeared to be target practice. Because the officer had […]

Stop, Frisk, and Record

From New York City to Rialto, CA: Police Body Cameras Issues include whether a mandatory worn-video appliance would compromise police duties and effectiveness; would politicize basic law enforcement; would provide social activists with a diversionary platform; would open the door to extensive past and present complaints leading to backlogs of lawsuits; would end up benefitting […]