FRANKFORT – (KT) Legislation that would ban warrantless searches on private open land has been introduced in the General Assembly.
Rep. John Hodgson, R-Fisherville, is the primary sponsor of House Bill 144, which also has 36 co-sponsors signed on, so far.
“Most people are shocked to find out that under current law, government officers can place surveillance cameras on private open land without the knowledge of the owner or a warrant,” Hodgson said. “Not a single person I surveyed wants the government to be allowed to spy on them without a warrant.”
Hodgson calls the “open Fields” doctrine created by a 1924 U.S. Supreme Court case an end run around the U.S. Constitution’s 4th Amendment protections.
The Justices ruled in that case that private open land is not protected from warrantless searches. Without a specific law forbidding such activity in Kentucky, landowners can have their property surveilled without a warrant, or even their knowledge.
The legislation contains language which states that, “No officer shall enter or access private open land for any surveillance or installation of surveillance devices without a search warrant.” There are some exceptions for emergency law enforcement situations.
“We have all seen troubling reports of the rapid expansion of government surveillance intruding on personal privacy,” Hodgson noted, “and if HB 144 is passed, Kentuckians will have some added protection from that government intrusion, backed up by the Section 10 of the Kentucky Constitution as well as the U.S. Constitution’s 4th Amendment.”
The measure has not yet been assigned to a committee.
(By Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)
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