Colorado Supreme Court Rules Three Months of Warrantless Video Surveillance Violates the Constitution

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EFF Legal Intern Hannah Donahue co-wrote this post.

Last week, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled, in a case called People v. Tafoya, that three months of warrantless continuous video surveillance outside a home by the police violated the Fourth Amendment. We, along with the ACLU and the ACLU of Colorado, filed an amicus brief in the case.

The police, after receiving a tip about possible drug activity, attached a camera to a utility pole across from Rafael Tafoya’s home that captured views of his front yard, driveway, and back yard. The back yard and part of the driveway were enclosed within a six-foot high privacy fence, which obscured their view from passersby. However, the fence did not block the view from the high vantage of the utility pole. The police could observe a live video feed of the area and could remotely pan, tilt, and zoom the camera. They also stored the footage indefinitely, making it available for later review at any time.

At trial, Tafoya

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