The third-party doctrine is a long-standing tenant of Fourth Amendment law that allows law enforcement officers to utilize information that was released to a third party without the probable cause required for a traditional search warrant. This has allowed law enforcement agents to use confidential informants, undercover agents, and access bank records of suspected criminals. However, in a digital age where exponentially more information is shared with Internet Service Providers, e-mail hosts, and social media “friends,” the traditional thirdparty doctrine ideas allow law enforcement officers access to a cache of personal information and data with a standard below probable cause. This Note explores particular issues that plague the traditional thirdparty doctrine’s interactions with new technology and proposes a standard of voluntary disclosure for courts to use when determining if information falls under the purview of the third-party doctrine. The factors in this proposed standard include the reasonable expectation of privacy of the disclosing person, the frequency with which information is disclosed, the purpose of disclosure, and the degree to which the public can access the information.
Margaret E. Twomey,
Voluntary Disclosure of Information as a Proposed Standard for the Fourth Amendment's Third-Party Doctrine,
Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mttlr/vol21/iss2/5