When Big Data Meets Big Brother: Why Courts Should Apply United States v. Jones to Protect People's Data

January 27, 2015

In an age when people’s lives are constantly tracked, recorded, analyzed, and shared by private parties, the Third-Party Doctrine, which holds that “information knowingly exposed to private
parties is unprotected by the Fourth Amendment,” now threatens to swallow whole the privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. This Article suggests courts adopt the Klayman v.
Obama approach and hold that the Fourth Amendment’s protections apply to government acquisitions of Big Data. More specifically, courts should follow Justice Samuel Alito’s reasoning
in United States v. Jones to hold that government acquisitions of Big Data are searches subject to the reasonableness requirements of the Fourth Amendment. Surely, if the government’s collection of a person’s GPS data in Jones was intrusive enough to constitute a search, then so too should government acquisitions of Big Data. Though such a holding would leave unresolved many important questions, it would be a significant first step that would bring the Fourth Amendment into the twenty-first century and enable the next generation of Americans to conduct their lives without fear of unreasonable government searches and seizures of their data.