Bennett Capers


Sounding the alarm about technology, policing, and privacy has become an almost daily occurrence. We are told that the government’s use of technology as a surveillance tool is an “insidious assault on our freedom.” That it is “nearly impossible to live today without generating thousands of records about what we watch, read, buy and do—and the government has access to them.” The message is clear. Big Brother is watching. And we should be afraid.

But the police use of technology, or what this Article terms “techno-policing,” does not have to be dystopian. This Article challenges conventional thinking and offers an entirely new way to think about technology and policing. Deployed properly, techno-policing—from the use of simple smartphone applications such as FaceTime and Google Hangout, to the deployment of high-tech surveillance cameras, terahertz scanners, Big Data, and Automated Suspicion Algorithms—can enhance the warrant requirement and the goals of transparency and accuracy. And at this time when crime levels are relatively low and there are growing demands for police accountability—think Black Lives Matter—techno-policing can enhance legitimacy. Most importantly, techno-policing can provide much needed doctrinal assists where Fourth Amendment doctrine alone has proved inadequate, shortsighted, and unfair.