Court finds geofence warrants to be unconstitutional

As far as potential privacy violations at the hands of law enforcement go, the so-called geofencing stands out. It’s a dragnet-style type of mass surveillance that determines a geographical area (typically as a criminal investigation is in progress – but the authorities really could use it for anything) – and then all those who happened to be in those confines, at a given time, with their mobile device broadcasting their location and other personal data, are basically fair game for searches. Concerning and extremely sketchy – particularly without proper legal safeguards or even proper warrants – to say the least. And to say the most, straight up unconstitutional, on account of the Fourth Amendment (protecting from unlawful searches). The latter definition of the practice is what the California Court of Appeals has gone for when it recently ruled in the People v. Meza case, during the appeals stage of the proceedings. While it might sound logical to observers, the court’s decision is still very significant – digital rights group EFF says – because it set a precedent, being the first time a US appellate court looked into a geofence warrant. “Dragnet” means that instead of saying who the suspect is and going after them, their online accounts, etc., law enforcement agencies have reportedly been taking it upon themselves to go the easiest route – not to put too fine a point on it, but just “digitally round up everyone” – and then decide if any of these people were involved…Court finds geofence warrants to be unconstitutional