Nader, Onassis, and Jones: Privacy in Public and Limits on the Private Sector - Communia: Woodrow Wilson Center for Science and Technology Innovation Program

Here is a follow-up post from Communia on the U.S. vs. Jones privacy case:

The GPS case – the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Jones – raises a whole host of issues about privacy in public. The case was about the Fourth Amendment and the government’s ability to follow individuals on public roads. Of the three opinions in the case, that of Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s was the most interesting and, potentially, the furthest reaching.

Sotomayor asked “whether people reasonably expect that their movements will be recorded and aggregated in a manner that enables the Government to ascertain, more or less at will, their political and religious beliefs, sexual habits, and so on.” Sotomayor and all the other justices found limits in the Fourth Amendment. I want to look more broadly.

The Fourth Amendment establishes the boundary for government action, but it does not constrain the private sector. What happens if the government cannot follow people because of Fourth Amendment restrictions but the private sector can? After all, what good is the Fourth Amendment if a private company can follow you down every street and sell the information to marketers, profilers, and government agencies too?

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Published Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Written by Joe Francica

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