A Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

The evolution of surveillance
technology and the interpretation
of the Fourth Amendment

I had a vague understanding of the Fourth Amendment and privacy rights as pertaining to constitutionally protected places. What I did not know, and what I sought to understand, was how the Supreme Court accounted for new surveillance technologies, which had both extended human sensory perception and allowed for the automated tracking of human behavior, in the interpretation of the Fourth Amendment. What struck me while doing the research was the emphasis the Court justices placed on what was generally accepted as “reasonable”.

A Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

For instance, in the oral argument for Katz v. United States (1967), Justice Abe Fortas asked:

“Suppose there’s a large gathering in Times Square and somebody is making a public speech there, he has to expect that he will be overheard. That’s his purpose and intention. Suppose there, in the [same] crowd, a man is there with a friend and he turns to a friend [or] to his family, and [says] a little something in a low tone of voice. And at the same place at the same area, same plot of ground, same circumstances, but one expects that he will be overheard, and the other expects that what he is saying is in private. Would you draw a distinction between those cases?”

A Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

It is not so much the deployment of new technologies for surveillance purposes that matters to the Court’s ruling on the Fourth Amendment. Rather, it is how the Justices interpret the use of technology and it's impact on what is considered a "reasonable expectation of privacy".


"A Reasonable Expectation of Privacy" was originally produced as a site-specific installation by Lisa Marie Patzer for the 2018 Video Artist Residency at the IceBox Project Space, Philadelphia, PA. Special thanks to the co-directors Ryan McCartney and Timothy Belknap, gallery coordinator Logan Cryer, and interns Jess and Liz at the IceBox for all of their support.

"A Reasonable Expectation of Privacy" is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
3D airplane from project about Ciraolo vs. United States


Video Adaptation of Katz v. United States

Bruce Byker-James, Director of Photography
Brandon Watz, Camera Crew and Color Correction
Kate Lord, Production Assistant
Joe Kauffman, Katz
Robert (Hap) Almy, FBI Special Agent Barron and Voice Over
Drew Biordi, FBI Special Agent Frei
Timothy Belknap, Telephone Booth Fabrication

Video Adaptation of Kyllo v. United States

Drew Biordi, Man in Window

third party doctrine audio

Robert Smythe, Voiceover

Other Shout Outs

Cory Lord, electronics technical support
Nick Yarnall, 3D designs and printing
Risolve Studio, booklet
Molly Tack-Hooper, legal consultation



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