Court ruling protects from technological invasions of privacy

-- Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C. - June 13

Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2001

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently that the government cannot use technology to circumvent its citizens' constitutional rights.

The court ruled specifically that police cannot use thermal imaging technology to examine private homes and determine what is going on within those homes without a warrant.

The ruling written by Justice Antonin Scalia for the court's majority is a marvelous defense of constitutional rights in the face of developing technology. ...

Scalia pointed out that if the government uses technology to gain information it previously could have gained only by entering a home, it is conducting a search and must have a warrant. ...

Government lawyers had contended that the use of the imager did not amount to a search because it merely measured the heat coming from the outside of the house.

But Scalia correctly argued that as technology improves, police would be able to perform more and more intrusive examinations of private homes. ...

The Fourth Amendment's guarantee of privacy within our own homes is one of our most sacred freedoms. The court's decision upholds the quality of that protection into the future and prevents it from being eroded by ever-improving technology. It will be a critically beneficial ruling for future generations.

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