Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Inside the Fishbowl

I have worried a good deal about that fish bowl over the years, and it seems pretty clear that it’s getting smaller, and its walls are getting more transparent. To give just one example, the other day one of my sons sent me a link to a satellite picture of my house from Google Maps. You could not only see the house in pretty clear detail, but you could see who was home, from the two cars in the yard—my son’s blue Subaru and my brother-in-law’s gray Avalanche. I was very happy that I hadn’t been taking one of my famous nude sun-baths on my patio.
This excerpt appeared in the Stanford Online Law Review in an article entitled, "The Dead Past" written by Judge Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. (64 Stan. L. Rev. Online 117). In the article, Chief Judge Kozinski discusses some of the recent technology related decisions related to GPS monitoring and privacy in the digital age. The article focuses on the intersection of law and technology: "And this brings into focus a key issue in the law pertaining to privacy: Not everything an individual wishes to keep private is legally protected as such. The law, and particularly the Fourth Amendment, only protects those items as to which an individual has a legitimate expectation of privacy." Chief Judge Kozinski famously dissented in the denial of an en banc review last year in United States v. Pineda-Moreno, pointing out the slow erosion of the Fourth Amendment and privacy:
Having previously decimated the protections the Fourth Amendment accords to the home itself, United States v. Lemus, 596 F.3d 512 (9th Cir. 2010) (Kozinski, C.J., dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc); United States v. Black, 482 F.3d 1044 (9th Cir. 2007) (Kozinski, J., dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc), our court now proceeds to dismantle the zone of privacy we enjoy in the home’s curtilage and in public. The needs of law enforcement, to which my colleagues seem inclined to refuse nothing, are quickly making personal privacy a distant memory. 1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it’s here at last.
Chief Judge Kozinski eloquently expounds on the law and privacy themes in "The Dead Past", concluding that the fishbowl continues to be constructed by our own hands. (full article here).

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