Fourth Amendment

Reasonable! Missouri Voters Overwhelmingly Pass Amendment Extending 4A Protections to Electronic Devices, Data



As noted at Reason 24/7 this morning, Justin Amash's hard-fought victory in Michigan's third district wasn't the only bit of good news for critics of the surveillance state. In Missouri an amendment to the state constitution, supported by State Sen. Rob Schaaf, (R-St. Joseph), that extends protection from unreasonable search and seizure to electronic communications and data passed overwhelmingly. In other words, cops, and other interested government busybodies, will need a warrant for that kind of information. The Kansas City Star came out against the amendment, and another reaffirming the right to bear arms, arguing it was "vaguely worded" and that the right place to secure the right to privacy was in litigation.

Though the amendment was proposed before the Supreme Court's ruling, the June Riley vs. California decision extended nationwide the same kind of protection from unreasonable search and seizure to people's cellphones. Over the last few years, states such as Texas, California, Maine, and Tennessee have moved toward extending Fourth Amendment protections to the digital realm.

A guide (PDF) for school officials from the Missouri Attorney General's office on conducting reasonable searches and serious doesn't mention cellphones or electronic devices once, though is heavy on when a search might be "reasonable." The efforts in Missouri, and around the country, certainly push back on the idea that reasonable people shouldn't reasonably expect privacy just because they use modern technology.