Illinois Law Stops Police from Getting Smart-Home Device Data Without Warrant

January 24, 2022

A new law in Illinois, the Protecting Household Privacy Act, requires a warrant for police to access data from internet-connected home devices like smart speakers or security cameras. The law provides more protection than the Fourth Amendment, because under current caselaw the third-party doctrine allows the government to access electronic data collected by third parties without a warrant. The Protecting Household Privacy Act imposes a warrant requirement for “any device primarily intended for use within a household that is capable of facilitating any electronic communication” but specifically excludes cell phones, computers, tablets, and wifi equipment. However, the law maintains the “good faith exception” which allows evidence collected by police in violation of the Fourth Amendment to be admitted in court if the officer did not know their actions were unconstitutional.

EPIC argues that the third-party doctrine is a relic of the past that is at odds with modern technologies and works to limit or reverse the doctrine. Most recently, in Commonwealth v. Zachary, EPIC urged the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to reject the third-party doctrine for mass-transit data gathered from subway smart-cards. EPIC has previously argued against the continued use of the third-party doctrine in constitutional privacy analysis.

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