Review of the Meaning of the Fourth Amendment

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The meaning of the Fourth Amendment is the question asked that will be discussed within this paper. The Fourth Amendment is a part of the constitution which protects the rights of the people to be protected in their homes, papers, persons, and effects against unreasonable search and seizures and shall not be violated. This is a basic principle of the amendment which most people who have ever taken a civics class will know.

After reviewing federal laws, laws within the Bill of Rights, and other rules and regulations of the federal government that pertain to my surveillance and reconnaissance plans I have chosen to cover electronic surveillance in the form of Global Positioning System (GPS) for cellphone tracking and in my reconnaissance, plan the use of drones to flyover large areas around Hoover dam. The use of each of these devices brings with it the possibility of violating the fourth amendment if the right procedures aren’t followed the most important one being to obtain a warrant.

When using a real-time GPS tracking device, you must obtain a warrant before putting into use. There are two other federal laws that you risk violating if the correct procedures aren’t followed. The first is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) which allows federal judges or magistrates to grant warrants allowing the placement of electronic listening devices (bugs) in private homes to monitor electronic communication. The second is Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which allows federal law enforcement to use “wire taps” to monitor foreign intelligence.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) justice manual chapter 9-7.000 covers the use of electronic surveillance. The main take away at the beginning of the chapter is this: Congress exempted law enforcement from this prohibition, but required compliance with explicit directives that controlled the circumstances under which law enforcement’s use of electronic surveillance would be permitted. Many of the restrictions upon the use of electronic surveillance by law enforcement agents were enacted in recognition of the strictures against unlawful searches and seizures contained in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution (‘9-7.000 – Electronic Surveillance’, 2018).

When using drones for reconnaissance it is important that you are in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations for their use. The FAA refers to drones as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and require a person obtain a license from them to fly them. In order for law enforcement to use drones for reconnaissance purposes they must follow the FAA rules and complete the necessary training to get a drone license. When using a drone for reconnaissance you can use it for evidence collection and surveillance, tracking prison escapees and monitor potentially dangerous situations such as our scenario.

What you can’t do is randomly surveil private citizens, target individuals based on individual characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation (Pieper, 2018).

I firmly believe that both my surveillance plan and my reconnaissance plan will abide by the laws set forth for their operations. I do not feel that they violate any of the laws that govern the use of the equipment I plan to employ in the execution of both my surveillance and reconnaissance plans.

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