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Finally, some good news on the privacy front
June 11, 2001 4:34 PM   Subscribe

Finally, some good news on the privacy front The Supreme Court today reiterated the right of privacy in the age of technology, ruling in an Oregon drug case that the police cannot use a heat-seeking device to probe the interior of a home without a search warrant. (registration required) The heat device used by the agents "might disclose, for example, at what hour each night the lady of the house takes her daily sauna and bath — a detail that many would consider `intimate,' " the majority held. daily sauna?
posted by 4midori (11 comments total)

 
It's easy to imagine that after a long heated court case, the judges are fired up to get down to the basement to sweat out the details and thrash each other with some legal branching. So they can relate.

Or, possibly they know more than we do about what kind of heat those devices are really looking for.

Of course, police might also discover at what hour she takes her daily sauna by watching her electricity consumption. Perhaps another private area that needs covering?
posted by Twang at 5:05 PM on June 11, 2001


I remember one saturday in seattle when a man came to my door. he said he was from the water company. my bill had suddenly become very high, and he wanted to find out why.

had I acquired a roommate? did I have a garden? etc. I've always wondered if he was investigating to see if I'd taken a sudden interest in hydroponics.

as it turned out, my water heater had sprung a leak, but that has always seemed weird to me.
posted by rebeccablood at 5:20 PM on June 11, 2001


I wonder if this will have an impact on the development Time Domain is doing. Besides the promise of low-power broadband wireless communications, they've often touted tracking applications for their PulsON technology. The communication aspects were widely hyped more than a year ago, but the ability to get an ostensibly clear picture of what's going on inside a building didn't get as much press--it raises ethical issues similar to the use of heat sensors.

Naturally, it's vaporware at this point, but it's been compared to the development of the lightbulb and the transistor in terms of its potential long-term impact (like many things which have flopped, I'm sure).
posted by disarray at 6:33 PM on June 11, 2001


Perhaps this ruling will be of use the first time someone gets the screws put to them thanks to evidence gathered by Tempest. The principle seems the same... law enforcement monitoring ostensibly private activity inside a home without actually going in and messing around. Here's hoping, I guess.
posted by letourneau at 7:03 PM on June 11, 2001


"daily sauna?"

you bet! now stop looking into my home you freaks.
posted by jcterminal at 7:07 PM on June 11, 2001


*sigh* When are people going to realize that TEMPEST is a shielding technology and NOT monitoring technology?
posted by bkdelong at 7:39 PM on June 11, 2001


"daily sauna?"

No schvitz!
posted by crunchland at 8:22 PM on June 11, 2001


I am pleasantly surprised by this ruling, but the geek in me keeps shouting "physics is not optional! The house is throwing off a heat plume! Do we also have to ignore snow melting on the roof?"
posted by whuppy at 6:00 AM on June 12, 2001


whuppy -- I understand the geek in you, but I think the answer to your question is, from a narrow legal standpoint, yes: the police can't manufacture probable cause to investigate you because of the snow melting on the roof. In terms of physics, the boundary of the walls of the house is transparent to the IR. But it isn't (and shouldn't be), to the law.

What really surprises/disturbs me about this is that I'm on the same side as (shiver) Scalia.
posted by BT at 6:33 AM on June 12, 2001


What really surprises/disturbs me about this is that I'm on the same side as (shiver) Scalia.

i know what you mean. i so expected him to dissent that i had to reread everything to make sure i had the right Justice in mind.
posted by tolkhan at 1:35 PM on June 12, 2001


Clarence Thomas wrote a ruling last week that I agreed with. Creepy.
posted by rodii at 1:59 PM on June 12, 2001


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