PRIVACY: Shredded trash doesn't cut it
anagld!decode!system at uunet.UU.NET
Wed Oct 20 09:22:34 PDT 1993
As if there was any doubt, the following will show that even
shredded trash is not safe:
>From _Search and Seizure Bulletin_, Vol 30, No. 9, September 1993
Shredded Documents - No Privacy Interest in Public Trash
United States v. Scott, 975 F.2d 927 (1992)
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) suspected Scott of filing false
income tax returns. IRS agent's searched Scott's garbage bags which
were left in front of his house for collection and found shredded
The agents pieced the papers together and were able to establish
probable cause to request search warrants based on the evidence
revealed in the whole documents. The IRS presented a 47-count
indictment against Scott.
Scott moved to suppress the evidence, claiming the search of his
garbage violated his privacy interests. His motion was granted and
the United States appealed.
DECISION: Reversed and sent back to the lower court.
The Constitution does not prohibit the warrantless seizure of shredded
documents found in public trash.
Scott relinquished his reasonable expectation of privacy in the garbage
once he abandoned it outside his house to be collected or destroyed by
a third party. That he may have desired secrecy by shredding the documents
does not change the fact he left the garbage in the public domain,
and the police were free to use their resources to collect the evidence.
A legitimate expectation of privacy is measured not by the individual's
desire to maintain secrecy, but by whether the government's action
violates constitutionally recognized privacy rights. Because Scott
had no constitutionally protected privacy interest in this trash, the
appeals court decided his motion to suppress should have been denied.
California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35, 108 S.Ct. 1625, 100 L.Ed.2d 30 (1988)
United States v. Mustone, 469 F.2d 970 (1972)
system at decode.UUCP (System Operator)
Cryptography, Security, Privacy BBS +1 410 730 6734 Data/FAX
More information about the cypherpunks-legacy