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In-Depth Interview: Surveillance Critic Albert Fox Cahn Sounds Alarm on ‘Reverse Search Warrants’

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In Proud Boys skirmish case, Manhattan DA used "reverse search warrants" in effort to locate victims aligned with Antifa, creating legal dragnet that violates the Fourth Amendment....Albert Fox Cahn is a graduate of Harvard Law School and executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project at New York's Urban Justice Center.  His article exposing these issues is here.  His agency website is here.

We open with a reading of the Fourth 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."

Cahn offers the historical context for the Amendment, and explains how the use of reverse search warrants violates "probable cause" and "particularly describing the place to be searched", as the warrant in this matter was served on Google, demanding a list of all electronic devices that were online in a specific geographical area on a particular day and time.  This potentially swept thousands of innocent people into a dragnet aimed at identifying victims who did not wish to appear in court.

We compare this legal gambit to Stingray, the technology that can surveil the cellphones of thousands of innocent people in its range.  We also talk about a case in Arizona where reverse search warrants were used on a falsely accused man, and how the law has not caught up with technology, which is often aggressively deployed by law enforcement.