‘Geographical protection warrant’ for all near-flight area cell location data ruled unconstitutional


The “Geofence warrant” was unconstitutional, the judge said. Can cops use location data from Google to find someone in an area at a given time? This is what a federal court was asked to decide recently.

The case stems from a 2019 bank robbery in Virginia. Police obtained a “geofencing warrant” to track down anyone who was near the scene at the time of the theft.

U.S. District Judge Hannah Lauck has now ruled that the search — which relied on location histories of cellphone data — violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches because it gathered information about myriad people without having no evidence of their involvement in the crime. “The warrant simply did not include any facts to establish probable cause for the collection of such broad and intrusive data from each of these individuals,” Lauck wrote in his ruling.

The judge emphasized that she was ruling on this particular situation – not on geofencing warrants writ large – and there could be a situation in which their use was constitutional.

But “the ruling — considered the first of its kind — could make it harder for police to continue using an investigative technique that has exploded in popularity in recent years,” reports the Associated Press. Privacy experts told the AP that this could influence future decisions about the use of such warrants:

“She says this is a general search that just scans people, most of whom have nothing to do with what you’re investigating,” said Jennifer Stisa Granick, surveillance and cybersecurity adviser. for the American Civil Liberties Union. “You have to seriously consider the impact on uninvolved people and their privacy, as well as the balance of power between people and law enforcement.”

Jennifer Lynch, director of oversight litigation for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights advocacy group, said lawyers nationwide could cite the decision in their own cases because it’s believed to be the first time a federal district court judge has ruled on constitutionality. a geofencing mandate.

“It’s helpful for other judges to see how a judge has handled this, especially since the technology is so new,” Lynch said.

This is important because police use of geofencing warrants has increased dramatically.

Google told the court that geofence warrants accounted for more than 25% of all US warrants it received and that Google’s receipt of such warrants increased by 1,500% between 2017 and 2018 and 500% between 2018 and 2019.

Civil liberties and privacy groups tend to oppose geofencing warrants. But not everyone who cares about the Constitution opposes it.

“I hope the courts won’t expand the Fourth Amendment to fetter technological tools like geofences that help police conduct more precise and less discretionary initial investigations,” wrote Jane Bambauer, a law professor at the University. University of Arizona, March. “With appropriate constraints, geofencing and other ‘search without suspicion’ technologies can be an integral part of policing modernization and reform.”

University of California, professor of law at Berkeley and Volokh conspiracy Blogger Orin Kerr also criticized Lauck’s decision in the case. “I’m not sure that executing geofencing warrants involves a Fourth Amendment search. And if they do, then I think the Fourth Amendment standard is much less stringent than Justice Lauck concludes,” he wrote last month. “How the Fourth Amendment applies to geofence warrants raises some tricky issues. But I don’t think [Lauck’s] opinion points in the right direction to help find the answers.” More here.


Biden administration expected to make controversial change to Title IX rules, the anti-discrimination law governing sex, gender and education. From The Washington Post: [Scott wrote about this yesterday, might be worth linking]

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in education, and the new rules would make it clear that this includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among others, according to two people familiar with a bill. proposed settlement who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly on the subject.

Regulations have the force of law. The rules, if finalized, would conflict with state laws that prohibit transgender women from participating in women’s sports. These laws are already being challenged in court.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education declined to comment on the content of the draft regulations, which the administration said it plans to release in April.

The draft text of the proposed regulations would include this sentence: “Sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender stereotypes, sex characteristics (including intersex traits), pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation sexuality and gender identity.”

The Biden administration should also revise (again, after previous revisions under the Obama and Trump administrations) the rules for how schools adjudicate sexual assault and harassment allegations. The Trump-era rewrite included more due process rights for the accused, which the current administration should revoke.

“A reversal here is bad news”, as Raison‘s Scott Shackford wrote yesterday. “Public universities have consistently violated the due process rights of students who have been accused of sexual misconduct, depriving them of defenses and the ability to confront accusers. Courts have cracked down on some of the malpractices encouraged by the Department of Education under former President Barack Obama.”


Another housing bubble? The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas warns we could be in the middle of another housing bubble. “A rapid appreciation in real house prices, such as is currently being seen, does not by itself signal a bubble,” notes a recent blog post on the Dallas Fed’s website. “But real house prices can deviate from market fundamentals when today’s strong price increases are widely believed to continue.”

This type of “explosive appreciation (often called exuberance) in real house prices, driven by expectations, has many consequences” and can produce “economic upheaval”, he warns. And “the current reading indicates that the U.S. housing market has been showing signs of exuberance for more than five consecutive quarters through the third quarter of 2021.”

So what does this mean?

Our data points to abnormal behavior in the US housing market for the first time since the boom of the early 2000s. The grounds for concern are clear in some economic indicators – the price-to-rent ratio, in particular, and the price-to-income ratio – which show signs that house prices in 2021 look increasingly out of step with fundamentals….

Based on current evidence, there is no expectation that the fallout from a housing correction will be comparable to the global financial crisis of 2007-2009 in terms of macroeconomic scale or severity. Among other things, household balance sheets appear to be in better shape and excessive borrowing does not appear to be fueling the housing market boom.

It is important to note that the experience of the real estate bubble of the early 2000s and the subsequent development of advanced tools for early detection and the deployment of warning indicators – some illustrated in this analysis – mean that actors of the market, banks, policymakers and regulators are all better equipped to assess in real time the importance of a housing boom. Thus, they are better informed to react quickly and avoid the most serious negative consequences of a real estate correction.


• The US House of Representatives is about to pass a bill legalizing marijuana. But it’s unclear whether the measure will go anywhere in the Senate.

• Scientists are trying to unlock the secrets of COVID-19’s “super immunity”.

• Large new study examines claims about moderate alcohol consumption and heart health.

• Planned Parenthood challenges new Idaho law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

• Pandemic policy has turned schools into surveillance states.

• An Iowa school choice bill is moving forward.

• Why is the US Department of Justice (DOJ) so determined to ruin useful tech tools that consumers love? The DOJ “has breathed new life into an investigation into Google Maps to determine whether bundling the service with other Google software is unlawfully stifling competition,” Reuters reports.

• A Los Angeles collective steps in to do the work the city won’t do:


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