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Court OKs warrantless use of hidden surveillance cameras

Home - by - November 2, 2012 - 18:45 America/New_York - 12 Comments

News.Cnet

In latest case to test how technological developments alter Americans’ privacy, federal court sides with Justice Department on police use of concealed surveillance cameras on private property.

Police are allowed in some circumstances to install hidden surveillance cameras on private property without obtaining a search warrant, a federal judge said yesterday.

CNET has learned that U.S. District Judge William Griesbachruled  that it was reasonable for Drug Enforcement Administration agents to enter rural property without permission — and without a warrant — to install multiple “covert digital surveillance cameras” in hopes of uncovering evidence that 30 to 40 marijuana plants were being grown.

This is the latest case to highlight how advances in technology are causing the legal system to rethink how Americans’ privacy rights are protected by law. In January, the Supreme Courtrejected warrantless GPS tracking after previously rejecting warrantless thermal imaging, but it has not yet ruled on warrantless cell phone tracking or warrantless use of surveillance cameras placed on private property without permission.

Yesterday Griesbach adopted a recommendation by U.S. Magistrate Judge William Callahan dated October 9. That recommendation said that the DEA’s warrantless surveillance did not violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and requires that warrants describe the place that’s being searched.

“The Supreme Court has upheld the use of technology as a substitute for ordinary police surveillance,” Callahan wrote.

Two defendants in the case, Manuel Mendoza and Marco Magana of Green Bay, Wis., have been charged with federal drug crimes after DEA agent Steven Curran claimed to have discovered more than 1,000 marijuana plants grown on the property, and face possible life imprisonment and fines of up to $10 million. Mendoza and Magana asked Callahan to throw out the video evidence on Fourth Amendment grounds, noting that “No Trespassing” signs were posted throughout the heavily wooded, 22-acre property owned by Magana and that it also had a locked gate.

 

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» 12 Comments

  1. Jack Daniels

    November 2nd, 2012

    welcome, 1984 has finally arrived!

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  2. Anonymous

    November 2nd, 2012

    This will be a moot point once the drones are up.

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  3. Unneutral

    November 2nd, 2012

    It shouldn’t be too much longer before we are REQUIRED to testify against ourselves.

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  4. pissedpatriot30

    November 2nd, 2012

    V

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  5. Whoredildo

    November 2nd, 2012

    Those cameras will come in handy for OBlowMe’s third term, when he REALLY gets serious about his opponents!

    Thumb up +5

     
  6. Edith McCrotch

    November 2nd, 2012

    “Nobody expects The Spanish Inquisition!!!”

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  7. Clyde

    November 2nd, 2012

    Hey, your Honor, guess your clerks didn’t read U.S. vs Karo. You’ll be reversed upon appeal.

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  8. Gracie

    November 2nd, 2012

    Wait ’till they rebuild Staten Island and the Jersey Shore. Those people will be OWNED by the gov’t and they won’t even know it. Their new homes will be swarming with surveliance. The subway and tunnels, too.
    While no one was looking…

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  9. Stranded in Sonoma

    November 2nd, 2012

    What if a DEA airplane flys over the property, without a warrant, and sees the marijuana plants. Is that an illegal search?

    What if a satellite photographs the property using filters designed to find the specific types of crops you are growing? (Yes, that technology was available in the 1980s. USDA had better info on Soviet grain production than did the Politburo.)

    I’m only asking these questions to play Devil’s Advocate. I agree that if they want to put up surveillance cameras on private property they need a warrant. But they don’t for the two cases stated above. Just something to be aware of.

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  10. Jethro

    November 2nd, 2012

     
  11. john

    November 2nd, 2012

    Thanks , Cardigan.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

    When the situation is reversed:

    In early April, state police officers raided Graber’s parents’ home in Abingdon, Md. They confiscated his camera, computers and external hard drives. Graber was indicted for allegedly violating state wiretap laws by recording the trooper without his consent (http://abcnews.go.com/US/TheLaw/videotaping-cops-arrest/story?id=11179076#.UJLXzXK5-Ew).

    And:

    The family of a New Jersey teenager is suing a local police department claiming officers arrested the boy simply because he was videotaping a confrontation with cops (http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/investigators&id=8826452).

    And:

    Narces Benoit, who shot this film on his cell phone camera, was arrested by police at the end of the incident. The video survived, after Benoit hid a small memory chip in his mouth, he told CNN.

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  12. TED JUSANT

    November 3rd, 2012

    Police are allowed in some circumstances to install hidden surveillance cameras on private property without obtaining a search warrant, a federal judge said yesterday?,
    Why, dont they know where they put the cameras!

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