The Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and one of his law clerks have penned a eulogy for the Fourth Amendment. It’s been murdered, Judge Kozinski and Stephanie Grace write in an editorial for The Daily, and you all are the guilty culprits.
You’ve put a knife in it, by letting supermarkets track your shopping in exchange for loyalty discounts, letting Amazon and eBay store your credit card info, and letting Google track the websites you visit and take photos of your homes with satellites.
The problem, at least constitutionally speaking, is that the Fourth Amendment protects only what we reasonably expect to keep private. One facet of this rule, known as the third party doctrine, is that we don’t have reasonable expectations of privacy in things we’ve already revealed to other people or the public…
With so little left private, the Fourth Amendment is all but obsolete. Where police officers once needed a warrant to search your bookshelf for “Atlas Shrugged,” they can now simply ask Amazon.com if you bought it. Where police needed probable cause before seizing your day planner, they can now piece together your whereabouts from your purchases, cellphone data and car’s GPS. Someday soon we’ll realize that we’ve lost everything we once cherished as private.
The lamentation for the loss of privacy has special resonance coming from these two, because it’s by one of the top federal judges in the country and that Stephanie Grace.