How a suspected gang member’s traffic stop led to a crucial privacy case

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The following is an excerpt of Habeas Data, which shows how the explosive growth of surveillance technology has outpaced our understanding of the ethics, mores, and laws of privacy.

Award-winning tech reporter Cyrus Farivar makes the case by taking ten historic court decisions that defined our privacy rights and matching them against the capabilities of modern technology. This particular section explores the run up to the landmark 2013 Supreme Court case, Riley v. California. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled, unanimously, that in most circumstances, police cannot search a cellphone during an arrest without a warrant. (credit: Melville House) August 22, 2009 San Diego, California The intersection of Euclid and Imperial avenues is fairly unremarkable. It’s comprised of wide Southern California streets, with at least two lanes of traffic (more if you include the left-turn lanes) in each quadrant. On one corner is an Arco gas station, just in front of St. Rita’s Catholic Church. On the northeast corner is Greene Cat Liquors, a strip mall liquor store, adjacent to Jaquin Mexican Food, which advertises $1 tacos (“w/ onion and cilantro only”). Along the southwest corner is El Real Mexican Food, a single-story green-and-white building with a small balcony. Its sandwich board advertises “5 rolled tacos—$4.25.”

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