The Third Party Doctrine: An Unreasonable Method for Determining Unreasonable Fourth Amendment Searches in an Ever Advancing Technological World
The Fourth Amendment provides, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and 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.” Viewed through the specific lens of criminal procedure, there is a long list of jurisprudence that sought to determine the most efficient manner to balance two very important, but competing, interests: the public’s interest in
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Next, the Court was faced with reevaluating what constituted an unreasonable search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The original standard set forth in 1928, known as the trespass-plus test, required that for government conduct to constitute a search there must be an actual or physical trespass onto or into the defendant’s protected property, without a search warrant, which resulted in the acquisition of evidence. That standard remained in effect for approximately forty years until the issue was reconsidered in the landmark case Katz v. U.S. (1967). Katz was revolutionary because the Court shifted its view on Fourth Amendment protections, in that the protections resided in the individual, and not merely in a protected place such as the individual’s home. As a result, the Court established the two-pronged Katz test, which provides that in order for the exclusionary rule to apply, the defendant must have demonstrated an actual expectation of privacy (subjective prong), and that expectation must be one that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable (objective prong).
After that, the court needed to fit these prior rulings into the sphere of technological advances used in government searches. In 1971, ten years after Katz, the Court faced the question as to the Constitutionality of whether an undercover agent may record in person conversations between himself and a defendant. Here, in accordance