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Federal Judge Rules Cops Can Set Up Cameras On Private Property Without Warrants

Ars Technica’s Timothy B. Lee reports on a case that will have wide-ranging implications in today’s omnipresent surveillance state:

A federal judge has ruled that police officers in Wisconsin did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they secretly installed cameras on private property without judicial approval.

The officers installed the cameras in an open field where they suspected the defendants, Manuel Mendoza and Marco Magana, were growing marijuana. The police eventually obtained a search warrant, but not until after some potentially incriminating images were captured by the cameras. The defendants have asked the judge to suppress all images collected prior to the issuance of the search warrant.

But in a Monday decision first reported by CNET, Judge William Griesbach rejected the request. Instead, he approved the ruling of a magistrate judge that the Fourth Amendment only protected the home and land directly outside of it (known as “curtilage”), not open fields far from any residence.

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