Reasonable Expectation of Privacy: The Fourth Amendment and Emerging Traffic Safety Technologies

By: Federico Jankilevich (DaFranca)

March 2019

All Rights Reserved 2019

Electronic measurement devices constitute a crucial component of the grid in traffic safety infrastructure. A well-design crossing can determine how many cars are going through a road intersection per unit measurement of time, what speed these vehicles are cruising at, the rate of variance in speed per vehicle and a series of other factors such as environmental conditions of the crossing at the time the car intersects the junction of the road.

In the light of new traffic safety technology its important to determine its viability. The term viability, nonetheless, constitutes a series of elements that must be weighted from different angles in the legal perspective. In this particular writing, the intention of the author is to evaluate the application of navigation technologies in automobile interfaces for traffic safety purposes.

Concretely, we ask: To what extent is vehicle location and navigation a breach of the Fourth Amendment?

A revision of California v. Greenwood reminisces that a “reasonable expectation of privacy” is presumed by citizens. As a result, citizens are entitled to petition before the Court whether a subjective expectation of privacy became manifest and whether such said expectation is objectively reasonable. Historically, the Supreme Court tends towards a restrictive interpretation of what “justifiable expectation” represents.

Furthermore, a reversion to property law leads to infer that “the installation of a device by trespass” is a breach of the Fourth Amendment. As a result, its important to formulate: Are navigation systems within vehicle user-interface a Breach of the Fourth Amendment? If so, to what extent? By extrapolating United States v. Jones to a commercial legal scenario, its possible to infer that, in theory at least, a user-navigation interface is intrusive to a certain degree because it allows the third-party provider a prolonged monitoring of the vehicle in a way that interferes with Fourth Amendment expectations of privacy.

Pertaining Road Safety Technologies, therefore, the Scalia interpretation of property can lead the legal expert to infer that new and emerging technologies are intrusive to the extent that the device is not “within the reach of public use.”

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