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privacyandsurveillance
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“The Fourth Amendment … Is In Retreat”

That’s how a dissenting opinion ends in a major federal case that was decided on Tuesday. This is how it begins: “A customer buys a cell phone. She turns it on and puts it in her pocket.” And with that, according to the majority’s opinion, the customer has consented to create a record of everywhere she goes, a Read More

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Patient Privacy Gives Way for Good Cause

If you’re a doctor in California, here’s a healthy reminder that the Medical Board can subpoena your patients’ records for good cause, over their objection and yours. In a recent decision, the California Court of Appeal upheld an order that compelled a doctor to produce three of his patients’ records even though all three didn’t want Read More

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New California Criminal Laws: Part Deux

To conclude our two-part series on the state’s new criminal laws, here are three more important ones that went into effect on January 1, 2016. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys must account for the immigration consequences of a plea deal. This is Assembly Bill 1343. It amended the Penal Code to reflect that defense lawyers must advise noncitizens accurately about Read More

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A Penny For Your Thoughts, Judge

Thank God we live in a country whose leaders speak like this. What if they didn’t, or couldn’t? In this case, maybe it’s because the speaker, Alex Kozinski, a prominent federal judge, was an immigrant born behind the Iron Curtain, the son of two Holocaust survivors who came here when he was twelve. Maybe we value the rule of law Read More

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New California Criminal Laws in 2016

Happy New Year! And with it, here are five important criminal laws that went into effect. Courts must report prosecutors for bad-faith Brady violations. This is Assembly Bill 1328. It amends the Penal Code to provide that a court must report a prosecutor to the State Bar who it finds, by clear and convincing evidence, has deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence in Read More

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Out of the Mouths (or Lives) of Babes

If you’re on probation, can the court require you to surrender your passwords to your electronic devices and social-media accounts, so they can be searched at any time? California has been weighing that question lately, and one month ago, the Court of Appeal issued decisions in two separate juvenile cases—one with a girl and one with a boy—that help Read More

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We’re Not Gonna Take It, Anymore!

You may want to tell your boss to take your job and shove it, but if you’re thinking of logging on one last time to wreak some havoc or raid the company’s trade secrets then think again. Over the summer, a federal court of appeals interpreted California law in a way that makes it a crime for you to access your employer’s Read More

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DOJ Posts New Policy on Stingrays

Well, what do you know. Two weeks ago, we lamented the fact that law enforcement was using these electronic devices—commonly referred to as Stingrays, IMSI-catchers, or cell-site simulators—without search warrants and, often, in secret. Then last Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department announced that, from now on, each of its agencies must obtain search warrants to use such devices, and the warrants must be supported Read More

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An Open Secret of Surveillance

From USA Today comes this report on law enforcement’s burgeoning use of so-called IMSI-catchers to conduct routine, mass surveillance. If you haven’t heard of these devices, here’s a good, plain-English piece on them from NPR. The IMSI part stands for International Mobile Subscriber Identity, and an IMSI-catcher tricks your cell phone (and every other cell phone in the vicinity) Read More

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These Walls Are Thin

A federal court of appeals recently issued an interesting opinion that touched on law enforcement’s use of new radar technology that can peer through the walls of your home. Reportedly, at least fifty agencies have quietly equipped their agents with such devices, and other, similar devices boast even greater capabilities. Here’s the backstory. The defendant was on the lam. He’d been convicted of Read More

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