The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: Fourth Amendment

Episode 45 – The Fourth Amendment

by Nathan Chang

Rotary phoneThis podcast gives insight into the progression of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution through time via two court cases, Carpenter v. United States and Smith v. Maryland. These two cases were both integral to how the advancement of technology has affected American legislation by addressing intrusive surveillance technology such as pen registers and CSLI, or cell-site location information. With new technology constantly springing up, our privacy has never been more vulnerable.

Works Cited
Carpenter v. United States. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved April 7, 2021, from

Cedarbaum, J., Cahill, N., & McHale, S. (2019, June 20). Digital Data Privacy One Year After Carpenter. Retrieved April 8, 2021, from

Kerr, O. [@OrinKerr]. (2018, June 22). It occurs, to me, though, that a ton of work is being done in the opinion by the Court’s lack [Tweet]. Twitter.

Matsakis, L. (2018, June 22). Carpenter v. United States decision Strengthens digital privacy. Retrieved April 08, 2021, from

Smith v. Maryland. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved April 17, 2021, from

Wessler, N. (2017, April 11). Cell phone records can show where you sleep and where you pray. Retrieved April 08, 2021, from

Audio Sources

Retrieved from
● Big Glass Breaking Combo Sound Effect
● AR10 7.62×51 308 Close Single Gunshot A Sound Effect
● Rifle Burst Fire D Sound Effect
● Suspenseful Dialogue
● Too Crazy
● Sentimental Dialogue
● Time Alone

Image: Analog,” Derek Bruff, Flickr, CC BY-NC

The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

This weekend marked the start of NFL football season, and for an avid fan like me it’s one of the most exciting weekends of the year. However, I want to talk about what happened before the games rather than what happened during them, specifically the national anthem. At the close of each rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, the words “The land of the free, and the home of the brave” are sung.” Those words, that I’ve heard dozens, if not hundreds of times, took on a different meaning when I thought about my recent reading of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother.

In the society of Little Brother, the “land of the free” simply is not that; rather it is a land of oppression, violations of rights and tyranny. Following the detainment of Marcus and his friends, Marcus is accused of being involved with the terrorist attack simply because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a result, many of his basic rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights are taken away. Marcus even says on page 55 “you’re talking about defending my freedom by tearing up the Bill of Rights.” These rights are fought for every day by men and women who risk their lives to keep this the “land of the free.” Once we lose our freedom, we lose everything that America stands for.

On Page 56, Marcus says “The truth is I had everything to hide, and nothing,” which immediately had me think about our discussion in class the other day. One of the arguments in favor of Vanderbilt surveilling our data was that “if he we had nothing to hide then why should we care.” We should care because this is the United States of America. Because this is indeed the “land of the free” and certain freedoms are guaranteed to us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. My counterargument to anyone who says we shouldn’t care about our privacy being compromised if we have nothing to hide is to ask them whether or not they would be consent to the government searching their dorm, or their house every day; nearly everyone would object. I believe that our digital footprint should be treated the same way. After all, this is supposed to be the land of the free, and that freedom should extend to all aspects of our lives.

Protection from Unreasonable Search and Seizure

The Constitution of the United States of America exists to protect the citizens of this nation from the government. Indeed, the Fourth Amendment states that citizens shall not be subject to unreasonable searches and seizures by the government without a warrant. Data mining on college campuses violates this Amendment and is clearly an illegal search. There are soldiers are fighting around the country as I write this, working to keep us safe and protect our liberties that are exclusively found in America. They aren’t risking their lives so the government can have more control over the people, but rather to secure the liberties of every citizen. And while the argument is often made that these searches in the form of data mining are designed to keep us safe, in reality they invade our privacy and our rights.

In Michael Morris’s essay entitled “Mining Student Data Could Save Lives,” it is evident that Morris is in favor of mining student data. For instance, he says by utilizing data mining software, colleges “will surely come much closer to that goal” of preventing crime. Morris argues that due to the fact that there have been so many attacks on college campuses, we should do anything to protect students, even looking at their internet data. But without a 100% detection rate, innocent students will be undoubtedly be victimized by this software and labeled as potential attackers, even if they have done nothing wrong. This violates our right to due process and goes against everything that we stand for as a country.

For me, the argument of privacy vs. security can be a very personal one. Having a father who was in the Marines and countless friends who have served, I often think about young men and women risking their lives for our freedom. Sure we could strictly monitor everything that everyone does, but is that worth neglecting the very freedoms that we worked so hard to earn back in 1776 and defend every day? I do not believe it does. If we were to search everyone’s house then we could find people making bombs before they used them, but first of all that isn’t legal, and second of all that isn’t the way that we want to live. In the argument of privacy vs. security, I strongly disagree with Morris’s argument and firmly stand on the side of privacy and keeping our rights in tact.

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