My right to privacy at home, in my car, and within my emails is one of the most fundamental rights protecting about who I am as a person. One of the amendments that present this right is the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.The definition of the Fourth Amendment is very simple – it forbids the act of unreasonable searches and seizures. Or, as the US Constitution states, the people have the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” This right limits the power of the police to seize and search our property homes and information. It requires a warrant, issued by a magistrate, judge or Supreme Court Official for a law enforcement officer to be able to to conduct a search of a person, at his location or vehicle.  At the time of the American Revolution, the Fourth Amendment was proposed by James Madison in 1789. The amendment grew from the War of Independence and the struggle of the colonists against the British rule. Ironically, its historical roots go back to the English tradition of “my house is my castle,” where the authority of the King’s officer was limited  to enter people’s houses and conduct arrests citation.  The US  Congress proposed the amendment to the states on September 28, 1789. On March 1, 1792, the Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, announced the approval of the amendment citation.After independence, the Fourth Amendment was interpreted in its’ very much original meaning — as a way to keep the government in check from collecting or searching a person or their property without a warrant. To avoid the abuse of power and a violation of the Fourth Amendment by providing either too general reasons for a search warrant, and allowing low ranking officials to issue warrants, the US constitution requires certain level of authority and a legitimate purpose to be present. The Fourth Amendment states that “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” Search or seizure has to have been cleared by a judge, against a strong preliminary evidence of illegal activity. Although, warrant is needed in theory before the police can search, there are acceptable exemptions. A warrantless search is allowed if the purpose of the search follows the officer’s reason to believe that contraband or other evidence may be destroyed or discarded before a search warrant could be issued. On the other hand, there are consequences to a warrantless search. The Supreme Court ruled in the 1950s in XXXX vs. XXXX that if the police seizes evidence without a warrant, it will be written as an illegal search, and then the evidence is not allowed in court and even if the defendant could be guilty, the court has to let him walk unsentenced and disregard the evidence which was obtained illegally. This is called the “exclusionary rule.” Recently, the Fourth Amendment has become a heavily debated topic. After 9/11 and with the “War on Terror,” the focus of the government and the media has been on how and where to strike the balance between “security for the public” and “rights of the individual” protected by the Fourth Amendment. In 2014, revelations were made about a massive spying program by the government on almost all American citizens. In recent years, the US has witnessed an escalation of ‘stop and frisk’ acts by the police, driven often by racial profiling and racial bias. There have been plenty of police-citizen confrontations about search and seizure, where unarmed civilians have been shot during car searches for refusing search without warrant. According to the statistics, most of these victims have been African Americans. With the proliferation and use of cheap aerial surveillance technology, such as drones, it becomes easier to violate our privacy and spy on our private lives. However, due to the Fourth Amendment, certain regulations now exist, such as the need for a license or permission to film people and property in private areas. The issue of the government spying on its own citizens “without warrant” has been a scandal since Edward Snowden, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contractor leaked and revealed to the American public the scale of the Government surveillance program. Under this program of total surveillance, using sophisticated algorithms and software technology, the federal government has been listening to everyone’s cell phone conversations and watching everybody’s chats on social media, forcing phone companies to share customers’ information without them knowing. Going through peoples’ texts, emails, phone conversations, and cloud storage today violates the  privacy protected under the 18th century Fourth Amendment. Information, and not physical property is today’s most precious resource. Unlocking someone’s phone data can provide access to an enormous amount of people, networks and resources and can also put hundreds and thousand of them in jeopardy. This brings up the question: “Is the Fourth Amendment still relevant today?” Can the Fourth Amendment protect us against the intrusion of the government and the commercial surveillance of the big companies? In conclusion, although life circumstances have changed, the interpretation of the Fourth Amendment has evolved as well, as seen from the cases cited above. earlier. Maybe today, the Founding Fathers would not be able to make sense of our reality and the new technologies used to control our lives. However, we are still trying to make sense of the constitutional protection of our privacy which they have formulated and still use it as a legal protection against the invasion of our privacy. Of course, privacy is a broader concept and cuts across several constitutional areas for legal protection: the first amendment, the third amendment, fifth amendment and the fourteenth amendment.  This shows the organic nature of the longevity of the US constitution.

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