Recent advances in technology are posing new challenges for a legal system based on decades-old precedent. Nowhere is this more apparent than in law enforcement’s warrantless use of IMSI Catchers. These devices mimic a cell phone tower, and when the device is activated, cell phones will naturally connect to them. Law enforcement officers can use those intercepted cell phone signals to track a suspect’s movements in real time with startling accuracy. Scholarly commentary on these devices has largely concluded that their use requires a warrant. This Comment engages in a close examination of Fourth Amendment precedent and argues that, as much as we might wish otherwise, the use of these devices is justified under existing case law. The Fourth Amendment generally protects what a person seeks to keep private, but in a technologically connected world, the public has willingly traded privacy for convenience. Thus, if we are to maintain our privacy in an increasingly technological world, we might require either a rethinking of the precedent underpinning the Fourth Amendment or a proactive Legislature to step in and fill the gap that exists between an eighteenth century Amendment and a twenty-first century world.
Ryan C. Chapman
The Outer Limits: IMSI-Catchers, Technology, and the Future of the Fourth Amendment,
44 Pepp. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/plr/vol44/iss4/5