The Codification of the Fourth Amendment Essay

The Codification of the Fourth Amendment Essay

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The most difficult problem that arises for the courts because of technology is the codification of the Fourth Amendment to apply to technological change and progress. The vast changes technology brings to surveillance, security, and data collection offer a challenge to courts in classifying these new technologies and monitoring their use within the limits of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment states that people have the right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” An influential dissent written by Louis Brandeis contends that the amendment does not simply protect a person’s property but the “right to be let alone.” Though, current Fourth Amendment law echoes Brandeis’s opinion, courts run into new problems of interpretation as new technology is developed. Courts are forced to utilize cumbersome metaphors in order to make laws based on a constitutional amendment that was written by people who could not anticipate the technological changes that would happen in the future. This makes it difficult to anticipate and provide for changes to come, so courts are constantly playing catch-up as new technologies and new uses for those technologies are brought up. In addition, courts need to leave room for uncertainty in laws and decisions in order to allow for future technological change. Several cases make apparent the court’s struggle to consistently apply the Fourth Amendment to growing technologies: Kyllo v. United States, United States v. Andrus, and !!!!!!
In Kyllo v. United States (2001), the police used a thermal imaging device in order to procure evidence that Kyllo was growing marijuana in his home. With the information obtained from the device, they were ...


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...future.
These cases demonstrate the issues courts have faced in the categorizing of new technologies under the Fourth Amendment. They need to rely on figurative language to make comparisons when the technology is hard to comprehend or classify. They need to rule on whether there are limits of technology and its impacts on personal property and privacy. Finally, they need to question whether certain personal information can be considered private and whether public disclosure is necessary when companies give customer information to government entities. The law is rapidly changing in these areas, and it will take some time for the courts to catch up to technology and standardize rulings across the board.




Works Cited

Solove, Daniel J., and Paul M. Schwartz. Privacy, Information, and Technology. 3rd ed. New York: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, 2011. Print.

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