Back to Katz: Reasonable Expectation of Privacy in the Facebook Age
58 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2010 Last revised: 11 Mar 2014
Date Written: December 31, 2010
Should increasing use of personal information by private companies affect the legal interpretation of an individual's "reasonable expectation of privacy" in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence? This note will examine this dynamic and apply it in the context of the burgeoning split among federal and state courts as to whether government surveillance of Global Positioning System ("GPS") devices attached to suspects' vehicles constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure. Part I of this note will discuss the evolution of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, including 1) the Supreme Court's reaction to expanding technology, and 2) shifting ideas of an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy given the increased consent to private use of personal information through GPS devices on vehicles, cellular phones and in conjunction with social networking sites. It will also discuss the Supreme Court and circuit courts’ disposition in dealing with electronic “beeper” tracking, the technology that predated GPS, as well as the varying legal standards for the government's use of cellular phones to locate individuals retroactively and in real-time. Part II will examine the split and varying modes of analysis among the federal circuits and state courts in dealing specifically with GPS surveillance. Part III of this note will argue for the adoption of a rule that GPS surveillance constitutes a search and seizure and should require a warrant, because the public's growing awareness and/or consent to use of personal information by private companies has not translated into a shift in an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy in their movement twenty-four hours per day.
Keywords: GPS, surveillance, Reasonable Expectation of Privacy, cell phones, privacy, fourth amendment, search and seizure
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