Tag Archives | Search & Seizure

U.S. Supreme Court Updates Legal Understanding of Privacy Rights

The United States Supreme Court has banned warrantless cell phone searches, effectively updating the legal framework of privacy rights to keep up with 21st century technology. This report from the Washington Times:

No mobile phone

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot go snooping through people’s cell phones without a warrant, in a unanimous decision that amounts to a major statement in favor of privacy rights.

Police agencies had argued that searching through the data on cell phones was no different than asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cell phone is more fundamental.

The ruling amounts to a 21st century update to legal understanding of privacy rights.

“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

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DHS Granted Right To Seize Any Electronic Devices Within 100 Miles Of A U.S. Border

As decreed by the Orwellianly-named DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Wired reports:

The Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights watchdog of  has concluded that travelers along the nation’s borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security.

“We conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful,” the two-page memo said.

The President George W. Bush administration first announced the suspicionless, electronics search rules in 2008. The Obama administration followed up with virtually the same rules a year later.

According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. The government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation’s actual border.

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How the U.S. Uses Sexual Humiliation as a Political Tool to Control the Masses

Search“Believe me, you don’t want the state having the power to strip your clothes off. And yet, it’s exactly what is happening…” Naomi Wolf writes in the Guardian:

In a five-four ruling this week, the supreme court decided that anyone can be strip-searched upon arrest for any offense, however minor, at any time. This horror show ruling joins two recent horror show laws: the NDAA, which lets anyone be arrested forever at any time, and HR 347, the “trespass bill”, which gives you a 10-year sentence for protesting anywhere near someone with secret service protection. These criminalizations of being human follow, of course, the mini-uprising of the Occupy movement.

Is American strip-searching benign? The man who had brought the initial suit, Albert Florence, described having been told to “turn around. Squat and cough. Spread your cheeks.” He said he felt humiliated: “It made me feel like less of a man.”

In surreal reasoning, justice Anthony Kennedy explained that this ruling is necessary because the 9/11 bomber could have been stopped for speeding.

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Can The Police Search Your Digital Devices?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released a “Know Your Rights” guide regarding police search and seizure of digital devices. Remember, law enforcement isn’t allowed to search your phone or computer without a warrant, your permission, or solid reason to believe that they will find incriminating evidence. Most important, only a judge or a grand jury can pry your password from you, so set one and you’re golden. Read the guide for more information.


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Florida Police Obtain Warrant to Search ‘All Persons’ in Apartment Complex

Mediterranean AptsWTF?!? These people got searched for living (or visiting someone who lived) in a certain area. Anthony Cormier writes in the Herald Tribune:

NEWTOWN — For months, Sarasota police officers watched drug dealers openly sell crack cocaine and marijuana from a vacant lot behind the Mediterranean Apartments in Newtown. Officers tried to arrest dealers, but suspects often fled and managed to disappear into the neighborhood.

The pressure to make arrests peaked in July 2009, when a man’s mutilated body was found in one of the apartment units. So that December, the agency tried something it had never done before. It sought permission from a judge to search anyone and everyone who parked or set foot in the apartment complex parking lot.

More than a dozen officers and the city’s SWAT team flooded the area. They had permission to detain and pat down anyone they saw in the area. During the two-hour raid, a dozen people were searched and, even though officers justified the wide search by telling a judge no “innocent persons” congregated in the abandoned lot, only four people were charged with drug crimes.

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Invalid Warrant Used in Raid on Gizmodo ‘Missing iPhone’ Reporter Jason Chen

The plot thickens. This isn’t looking like a publicity stunt by Apple anymore unless Steve Jobs has cops on his payroll. Beware the Power of Jobs! Kim Zetter writes on WIRED’s Threat Level:
New iPhone?

Police raided the house of an editor for Gizmodo on Friday and seized computers and other equipment. The raid was part of an investigation into the leak of a prototype iPhone that the site obtained for a blockbuster story last week. Now, a legal expert has raised questions about the legality of the warrant used in the raid.

On Friday, officers from California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team in San Mateo, California, appeared at the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen while he was not there and broke open the front door.

Chen and his wife discovered the officers when they returned from dinner around 9:45 that evening. According to an account he posted online, Chen noticed his garage door was partly open, and when he tried to open it completely, officers came out and told him they had a warrant to search the premises.

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‘Never Get Busted’ Filmmaker Barry Cooper Arrested for ‘KopBusters’ Reality Show

NGBAKopBusters is a new project from Never Get Busted Again filmmaker and activist Barry Cooper:
[We] were discussing the thousands of citizens who sent emails to NeverGetBusted asking for help regarding krooked kops in their communities. Formerly one of our nation's top drug enforcement officers, [Barry Cooper] has first hand knowledge of the korruption the American Drug War produces. He knew the constant flow of emails complaining of civil rights violations, specifically the 4th Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure), were true.
Barry Cooper says his arrest last week was in retaliation for his "KopBusting" and was politically motivated:
As hard as it was on my family for myself to go to jail ... it's nothing compared to how hundreds of thousands of families feel every year, because of those raids. Other families do not have the resources nor the experience or the knowledge to safely make it through a raid, so when they're raided, they can't and don't and won't fight back. So my family is fighting back for those families. As far as I know, there's no other human or family exposing cop corruption. The proof that cops will retaliate if you expose them, is our arrest and the raid they conducted on my home. For that exact reason, other families just take it. This happened to my family because I caught and filmed one of their officers stealing drug money.
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Illegal Warrantless Eavesdropping Still Unaddressed by Courts and Congress

David Kravets writes on Wired’s Threat Level:

Heads spun four years ago this weekend, when AT&T was accused of funneling every one of its customers’ electronic communications to the National Security Agency — without warrants. A Jan. 31, 2006, lawsuit alleged major violations of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from warrantless searches and seizures. Such a sweeping breach seemed far-fetched.

Yet months after the lawsuit was lodged, the Electronic Frontier Foundation produced internal AT&T documents allegedly outlining secret rooms in AT&T offices connected to the NSA, which was siphoning all internet traffic, from e-mails to Voice Over Internet Protocol phone conversations.

But four years and a mountain of court briefs and rulings later, the legal system has never addressed the merits of the allegations — and likely never will. Even Congress has weighed in and passed legislation to prevent the allegations from being heard.

Read More: Wired’s Threat Level

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