Knowledge Archive: historical factors and trends in United States’ Fourth Amendment rights and data proteciton behaviour


This knowledge archive deals with privacy and data protection in relation to the Fourth Amendment’s protection against “unreasonable search and seizures”. The cases  listed below are linked to the respective case decisions.

  Weeks v. United States 1914
  • Exclusionary rule does not apply to the Fourth Amendment protection as Courthouse errors lead police to mistakenly believe their search warrant was valid
Olmstead v. United States 1928
  • Fourth Amendment does not apply to wiretap
  • Telephone wires are not included
  • Information gained is not a “thing”
 Katz v. United States 1967
  • Fourth Amendment protections violated through FBI listening device
  • Fn 23 provides for exemption to privacy restrictions for national security agencies in certain situations
Burrows v. Superior Court 1974
  • Burros revealed his affairs to a third party
 United States v. Miller 1976
  • FBI obtained Millers Bank records from the bank
  • Miller erred as a third party (i.e. the Bank) held the records and could provide the records to police
 Smith v. Maryland 1979
  • Fourth Amendment right not violated
  • pen registers do not contain content of the communication only phone numbers
  • Phone numbers can be obtained from the phone company
 United States v. Knotts 1983
  • Knotts was void of Fourth Amendment protection
  • FBI tracking device used to located his movements
  • Tracking device was hidden in a package delivered to Knotts
 United State v. Jones 2011
  • Jones’ Fourth Amendment rights violated when FBI warrantless fixed GPS device on his car and tracked it for 28
ACLU v. Clapper  New York District Court 2013
  • NSA collection of US and non-US phone metadata is lawful
Klayman v. Obama 2013
  • NSA’s Bulk Telephony Metadata Program is a violation of the Fourth Amendment protections
ACLU v. Clapper  Appeals Court 2015
  • NSA bulk collection of telephone metadata is unlawful




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