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Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment protection expanded significantly with the United States vs. Jones (2012) case. Law enforcement officers in a drug- related investigation had installed a GPS device for a month on a car’s exterior without Jones’s knowledge or consent. This was not only a test of “unreasonable searches and seizures” without a warrant, but also government intrusion upon privacy and civil rights. The Court concluded that since the car was Jones’ property, the intrusion on the vehicle was for the purpose of obtaining information and therefore a search under the Fourth Amendment, for which a warrant would have been needed [101].

More significantly, the Court’s concurring opinion, by Justice Alito, was that a mosaic of information could be created from digital scraps of data which meant that the GPS device information, while minor, could generate a larger picture or mosaic of Jones, violating Fourth Amendment privacy rights. Alito argued that “relatively short-term monitoring of a person’s movements on public streets accords with expectations of privacy that our society has recognized as reasonable.” However, extended

monitoring, which enabled observation of an individual’s movement patterns, thereby generating a personal story, violated the Fourth Amendment [101]. This was a landmark case in that violation of Fourth Amendment was interpreted in terms of both privacy and personal property.

The European Union Data Protection Directive goes further in making privacy a fundamental right. This includes the right to be forgotten so that individuals can request search engines to remove links that are no longer relevant. This feature suggests some form of editorial control by citizens over what might be public information and also places the burden of removal on the search engine, the platform, rather than the original information source. Additionally, this information is not removed from all global websites.2

 
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