Jun 022011
 
 June 2, 2011  Laws, Surveillance, U.S.

Matthew Lasar writes:

Meet Roy Olmstead and Charles Katz—one was a Prohibition era bootlegger, the other a ’60s gambler. Neither did anything earthshaking with their lives, but history remembers them both because their arrests, based on warrantless telephone taps, reached the United States Supreme Court.

In the two cases that resulted, the Supremes took starkly different perspectives on whether the men’s constitutional rights had been violated by wiretaps without a warrant.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,” says the Fourth Amendment. But as telephone wires invaded the 20th century, judges had to constantly rethink what that sentence meant. In doing so, the justices paved the way for modern wiretap law and for the controversies over warrantless wiretapping that would become a feature of the “War on Terror.”

Read more on Ars Technica.

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