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Policymakers — state and federal, legislative and judicial — have expressed their interest in updating the laws regarding electronic surveillance. This interest is motivated by several recent trends. First, law enforcement surveillance has traditionally been limited as much by practical considerations, including the costs and technical difficulty of obtaining evidence, as legal ones. However, technological innovations have undermined these traditional practical protections, raising questions about the adequacy of the legal protections that remain. Second, law enforcement agencies are no longer the only entities collecting information about individuals. A wide variety of commercial entities now collect information about their customers, which law enforcement can access with only minimal legal protections. However, attempts to update electronic surveillance laws are made more difficult by the fact that very little is currently known about how law enforcement officers use electronic surveillance and commercial information requests. This dissertation presents the results of three studies that investigate how law enforcement uses electronic surveillance.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Does Rejection of the Third Party Doctrine Change Use of Electronic Surveillance? Evidence from the Wiretap Reports

  • Chapter Three

    Reconsidering Law Enforcement Use of Technological Search and Seizure: Dollars and Sense

  • Chapter Four

    The Gilded Age of Electronic Surveillance

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusion

  • Appendix A

    Bibliography, Does Rejection of the Third Party Doctrine Change Use of Electronic Surveillance?

  • Appendix B

    Description of State Supreme Court Cases Affirming or Rejecting the Third-Party Doctrine

  • Appendix C

    Additional Comparison of Intercept Trends

  • Appendix D

    Results of Sensitivity Analyses

  • Appendix E

    References, Reconsidering Law Enforcement Use of Technological Search and Seizure

  • Appendix F

    Full List of Considerations for Using Electronic Surveillance and Commercial Requests

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in August 2016 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Edward Balkovich (Chair), James Anderson, and Sasha Romanosky.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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