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The small and surprisingly dangerous detail the police track about you
Catherine Crump   Dec 20, 2014   TED  

A very unsexy-sounding piece of technology could mean that the police know where you go, with whom, and when: the automatic license plate reader. These cameras are innocuously placed all across small-town America to catch known criminals, but as lawyer and TED Fellow Catherine Crump shows, the data they collect in aggregate could have disastrous consequences for everyone the world over.

Catherine Crump is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. She litigates cases on many issues, from challenges to invasive government surveillance programs, to protecting the right to engage in political protest, to suing police officers for excessive force. Current cases include constitutional challenges to the government’s authority to engage in suspicionless searches of laptops at the international border and to its assertion that it can track the location of cell phones without a warrant.

Kyllo rears its ugly head yet again.

In Kyllo, a home-hothouse pot grower who was busted through the use of infrared sensors to spot his grow-lights sought dismissal on grounds that the sensors constituted an unlawful search. The SCotUS found that they did -- but they went further, to say that the reason was because Kyllo had no reason to expect that technology would be used against him, not that there was any inherent barrier of privacy embodied in his walls. In his majority opinion, Justice Scalia established a ubiquity test: If a technology is in sufficiently wide use, it no longer consitutes an unlawful search.

In other words, under Scalia's test in Kyllo, as soon as an invasive search/surveillance technology becomes sufficiently common that the court deems it common knowledge, it becomes lawful to use it without a warrant.

This is the fruit of that tree.
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