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Professor Ferguson on the Fourth Amendment: Carpenter and Big Data Policing

Thursday, November 30, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Erin Looney
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Cover of Professor Ferguson's book The Rise of Big Data Policing

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Carpenter v. United States, a case that focuses on whether law enforcement officials can collect third-party cell site information to identify suspects without a warrant.

This August, UDC Law Professor Andrew Ferguson joined forces with 41 other scholars to file a brief with the Supreme Court in support of Carpenter. In three recent pieces, Ferguson talks about the impacts of Carpenter on the Fourth Amendment.

Ferguson tells author Masood Farivar in an interview with Voice of America, “There is both a narrower issue and a broader issue that is potentially at play in Carpenter. The narrower issue is whether an exception to the Fourth Amendment, called the Third Party Doctrine, should survive the digital age. And the broader issue is, what does the Court do with a Fourth Amendment that was created in an era of small data when we are in a new world of surveillance?”

In “Why We Need Local Surveillance Summits” in In Justice Today, he writes, “The stakes are high because the Supreme Court’s decision will impact all future law enforcement requests for digital third party records, which would include such things as Internet searches, smartphones, smart cars, and data from all the devices connected through the Internet of Things.”

On what the decision in Carpenter will mean long-term, Ferguson tells the ABA Journal's Mark Walsh, "It is really about how the Fourth Amendment will or will not protect all Americans in the digital age.”

Ferguson has been busy changing the debate on the future of policing since before Carpenter and before the release of his latest book The Rise of Big Data Policing: Surveillance, Race, and the Future of Law Enforcement. From excerpts in Time to appearances on Voice of America, he is quickly becoming a leading expert in the costs and benefits of increased technology and data use in policing strategies. According to the book’s publisher NYU Press, Ferguson “reveals how these new technologies—viewed as race-neutral and objective—have been eagerly adopted by police departments hoping to distance themselves from claims of racial bias and unconstitutional practices. After a series of high-profile police shootings and federal investigations into systemic police misconduct, and in an era of law enforcement budget cutbacks, data-driven policing has been billed as a way to ‘turn the page’ on racial bias.”

The book has been featured or excerpted in Time, Slate, TechCrunch, CNN Money, Gizmodo, Medium, and American Scientist. Ferguson has also made appearances on WNYC The Takeaway, Voice of America, The ABA Journal LegalTalk Network, and the TalkingTech podcast with the Center for Democracy and Technology to discuss the book.

The Rise of Big Data Policing: Surveillance, Race, and the Future of Law Enforcement is listed on The Chronicle of Higher Education's November 24 Weekly Book List.

Follow Carpenter on the Supreme Court of the United States blog.


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