21 IRL: In Real Life

Kristin Conlin

The acronym IRL is used to describe events or actions that are experienced in-person. Here, it refers to life (both “real” and digital) that is affected by the security and protection, or exposure and invasion, of outside parties through our digital presence.  To understand our current and ever evolving situation, we have to look back on the history of privacy and the IV amendment.

IV Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This means:
All the things in your house and on you are private and are protected against unreasonable search and seizure by the government.  That right will not be violated by the government without probable cause.

This amendment is antiquated as it does not protect our digital environment and “things” outside our home. There have been a litany of cases where the courts attempt to apply the principles of the IV amendment to the current and evolving needs of society.

The 2018 US v. Carpenter case is worth noting due to the amicus brief submitted by high profile tech companies (scroll past the list of all previous court cases to page 13/48 that is titled, “Statement of Interest”).  The statement and case evidence prompted the court to adjust it’s interpretation of the IV Amendment and third party disclosure agreements.

To understand how American surveillance developed between the passage of the constitution and Bill of Rights and the present, WNYC Studios Note to Self podcast: The Bookie, the phonebooth, and the FBI provides a concise story using a robbery that took place in Baltimore, MD as the backdrop.  The same group produced a follow up episode in 2018: The fourth amendment needs your attention.



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IRL: In Real Life Copyright © 2019 by Kristin Conlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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