Name: Meredith Higashi lesson


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  • The use of a thermal imager to detect heat radiating from the exterior of Kyllo’s home was not a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment; the device did not invade the home or reveal detailed activities within the home itself

  • The use of the thermal imager to locate hot spots on the exterior of the home did not intrude upon any expectation of privacy that society recognizes as reasonable (for example, it is not like a case in which the government attaches an electronic listening device to the outside of a public telephone booth)

  • Technological observations may implicate Fourth Amendment rights, but not every such observation is a “search”

  • The use of the thermal imager can be distinguished from other equipment, like x-ray devices or microphones that can actually detect activity through solid walls; the thermal imager could not penetrate the walls or “see” into the home’s interior

  • The agents’ observation from a public place (the street) of an area exposed to the public (the exterior of the home) is not ordinarily a “search”

  • The use of technology to observe an area exposed to the public (the exterior of the home) does not constitute a “search” when private areas and activities are not observed

  • The government’s inference, or conclusion, that the heat came from a source inside the home does not make the thermal-imaging scan itself a “search” of the home

Source: Brief for the United States in Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27 (2001)

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