Court to rule on constitutionality of video cameras trained on homes for months

Court to rule on constitutionality of video cameras trained on homes for months


Anyone can see your home from the outside when they drive by. But does that give authorities permission to mount video cameras on nearby poles to monitor you for months on end?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other groups insist that's illegal, and the group has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Commonwealth v. Mora in Massachusetts.


The fight is over the high-tech "pole cameras" fixed on the homes of Nelson Mora and Randy Suarez that allowed officers to monitor everyone going in and out of their homes in real time, "remotely control angle and zoom functions, and zoom in close enough to reach license plates."


The arguments submitted to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court are based on Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless searches.


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Police officers were able to review months of footage even though they had not warrants.


"Mora and Suarez moved to suppress the video surveillance, arguing the use of the cameras violated the Fourth Amendment and article 14 of Massachusetts’s Declaration of Rights, which prohibit unreasonable searches," EFF reported.

The organization argued that "just as collecting cell phone location data over time reveals sensitive information about people, using stationary video surveillance to record all activity in front of a person’s home for months implicitly reveals so much more private, sensitive, and intimate information than the public sees merely walking by the house from time to time."


Officers could, for example, "learn or infer private relationships, medical information, and political or religious beliefs. And, as with the collection of location data, technological advances make video surveillance chea ..