Most Influential Privacy Cases of the Decade

Privacy is a delicate and controversial subject, especially when the Fourth Amendment so broadly attempts to defend the American people from invasions of privacy. When faced with discrepancies, the courts will make rulings on these situations. However, some of the most difficult and contentious cases make it all the way to the Supreme Court.

This is a controversial area of law and opinions will continue to evolve with changes in civil laws and technology

In this infographic, we'll look at some of the most noteworthy privacy cases throughout the last decade.

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Most Influential Privacy Cases of the Decade

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United States v. Jones

October 2005

  • Antoine Jones is arrested after 28 days being tracked by a GPS device on his vehicle without a warrant
  • The FBI raided his jeep and found guns, $850,000 in cash and 97kg of cocaine.

October 2006

  • Jones was prosecuted on numerous charges.
  • The jury acquitted him but could not reach a decision on his conspiracy charge.

March 2007:

  • He and his business partner, Lawrence Maynard, were both tried on a conspiracy charge.

January 2008

  • The jury in the second trial convicted them both on the charge.
  • In his subsequent appeal, Jones stated that the placement of a GPS without a warrant violated his fourth amendment rights.
  • His conviction was overturned by United States Court of Appeals.

June 2011

  • The Supreme Court was asked by the United States prosecutors to review the case and they agreed.

January 2012

  • They ruled unanimously that attaching a GPS device to a vehicle and then using the device to track the vehicle’s movements constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment and so Jones’ rights were violated.



  • AT&T discovered that they may have been overcharging for a government program designed to bring technology to schools.
  • This resulted in a $500,000 settlement with the feds.
  • Comptel, a group of AT&T competitors, demanded to see all investigation files.
  • The telecommunication giant said this will violate their right to privacy under an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act.

Nasa v. Nelson

August 30, 2007

  • This case was a result of the implementation of new policies stating that NASA employees working under contract must submit themselves to in-depth background checks.
  • This includes background information as it pertains to their history of:
    • Education
    • Military
    • Employment
    • Residential Addresses

September 24, 2007

  • A district court finds that the Space Act of 1958 supports drug testing.
  • The Space Act enabled NASA to do what was necessary in the name of national security.
  • During an appeal, the court found that the searches used by the space program would not comply with the Fourth Amendment.

March 8, 2010

  • A petition was filed that asked the Supreme Court for:
    • A definition of what the informational privacy laws can be applied to
    • And clarification on whether collecting information regarding counseling or treatment of illegal drug use was within the law

January 19, 2011

  • The Supreme Court rules that NASA has the right to perform these tests and collect this information and these actions do not violate the individuals’ right to informational privacy.

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