#Federal Court: 8 Months Of Utility Pole Camera #Surveillance Is A 4th Amendment Violation

The Supreme Court’s Carpenter decision continues to add warrant requirements to #surveillance activities law enforcement routinely engages in with almost zero paperwork whatsoever. The Carpenter case dealt with the government’s collection of historical cell site location info from third-party #telcos, but its influence has spread much farther than that. The decision shook the foundation of the Third Party Doctrine, suggesting a new “reasonable expectation of privacy” standard that threatens warrantless access to a number of third-party records. It also suggested long-term surveillance of citizens shouldn’t be a warrant-free activity, even if much of what’s surveilled occurs out in the open. To date, courts have applied the Carpenter decision to cover things like car crash data from a vehicle’s black box and #GPS data pulled from third-party services. In this case, via FourthAmendment.com, a #Massachusetts federal court says the Carpenter decision covers long-term surveillance of someone’s home. The evidence being challenged in this case is actually unknown. But the defendants raising the challenge assume the government will be introducing evidence derived from video recordings of the front door and driveway of their home, captured by a camera mounted to a nearby utility pole. Law enforcement — without a warrant or stated probable cause — surveilled the home for over eight months. As the court notes in its decision [PDF], surveillance of publicly-viewable areas generally isn’t a Fourth Amendment issue. Casual observations of a person’s forays in and out of her home do not usually fall within the Fourth Amendment’s protections. Here, the defendants ask the Court to consider whether a precise video log of the whole of their travels in and out of their home over the course of eight months, created by a camera affixed to a utility pole that could also read the license plates of their guests, raises Fourth Amendment concerns. The court says the test for applying the Fourth Amendment to government surveillance efforts comes down to a “reasonable” expectation of privacy. Here, the court finds the defendants’ privacy expectations are both subjectively and objectively reasonable. The Court ALLOWS Moore-Bush and Moore’s motion to suppress because they have exhibited an actual, subjective expectation of privacy that society recognizes as objectively reasonable. See Morel, 922 F.3d at 8. First, the Court infers from their choice of a neighborhood that they subjectively expected that their and their houseguests’ comings and goings over the course of eight months would not be surreptitiously surveilled. See Moore Mot. 7. Second, the Court rules that the Pole Cameras collected information that permitted the Government to peer into Moore-Bush and Moore’s private lives and constitutionally protected associations in an objectively unreasonable manner. See United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400, 415 (2012) (Sotomayor, J., concurring). The government, of course, disagreed. It argued the defendants had no privacy interest in the front of their house, considering it was viewable by anyone passing by it. The court says if that were the extent of the privacy interest asserted by the defendants, the government would be correct. Yet that is not the narrower privacy interest that Moore-Bush and Moore assert here. Instead, Moore-Bush and Moore claim that they expected privacy in the whole of their movements over the course of eight months from continuous video recording with magnification and logging features in the front of their house</st

Source: Federal Court: Eight Months Of Utility Pole Camera Surveillance Is A Fourth Amendment Violation