Can law enforcement enter your house and use a secret video camera to record the intimate details inside? On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unfortunately answered that question with "yes."
U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents suspected Ricky Wahchumwah of selling bald and gold eagle feathers and pelts in violation of federal law. Equipped with a small hidden video camera on his clothes, a Wildlife agent went to Wahchumwah's house and feigned interest in buying feathers and pelts. Unsurprisingly, the agent did not have a search warrant. Wahchumwah moved to suppress the video as an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment, but the trial court denied his motion. On appeal before the Ninth Circuit, we filed an amicus brief in support of Wahchumwah. We highlighted the Supreme Court's January 2012 decision in United States v. Jones — which held that law enforcement's installation of a GPS device onto a car was a "search" under the Fourth Amendment—and specifically focused on the concurring opinions of Justices Alito and Sotomayor, who were worried about the power of technology to eradicate privacy.