Saturday, October 15, 2011
This essay urges reexamination of the privacy implications of registration and community notification (RCN) laws, commonly known as Megan’s Laws. Applying the analytic construct recently employed by the D.C. Circuit in United States v. Maynard to conclude that extended use of a GPS tracking device constitutes a search for Fourth Amendment purposes, the essay argues that the collection and aggregation of registrant data entailed in RCN implicates a protectable Fourteenth Amendment privacy interest. In both contexts, the government collects nominally public data – in Maynard, car travel, with RCN, registrants’ home/work/school addresses, physical traits, etc. – and creates an informational “mosaic” of personal life that would not otherwise practically exist.
With the Supreme Court’s recent grant of certiorari in Maynard (docketed sub nom. United States v. Jones), mosaic theory will soon be the subject of considerable debate. The essay seeks to contribute to this debate, pushing the applicable bounds of the theory and allowing for a more robust examination of RCN, as well as similar data-based social control strategies likely to emerge in coming years.