Open Mic Night: Does Subpoenaing a Home Voice Assistant Device Pose a Constitutional Threat?
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right of citizens “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures . . . and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” U.S. Const. amend. IV. This Amendment guarantees an individual’s fundamental right to privacy in their own home. Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557, 565 (1969). There is a general understanding that possessions, such as a laptop computer or a cellular phone, can be seized and their contents searched with a valid warrant. Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473, 2485 (2014). But what about technological devices that one decides to invest in to improve the “quality of [their] life?”? Amy B. Wang, Can Amazon Echo Help Solve A Murder? Police Will Soon Find Out, Wash. Post (Mar. 9, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/03/09/can-amazon-echo-help-solve-a-murder-police-will-soon-find-out/?utm_term=.c01a88c258a8. For instance, devices containing voice assistants have become a staple in many Americans’ homes. See Andrew Burger, Report: Voice Assistant Penetration Jumps to 12% of U.S. Broadband Households, telecompetitor (Mar. 21, 2017, 1:53 PM), http://www.telecompetitor.com/report-voice-assistant-penetration-jumps-to-12-of-U-S-broadband-households/. What are the constitutional implications of subpoenaing these devices? (more…)