Privacy is in the eyes of the beholder

There’s been some interesting debate recently on whether or not police can search your garbage without a search warrant. Apparently the police, district attorneys and judges think they can. They seem to believe since that stuff is put there to be discarded and people know it’s going to be handled by sanitation workers and even sorted for recycling there is no expectation of privacy, so it’s ok for the police to search it without a search warrant. And they routinely do.

Journalists of the Willamette Week newspaper in Portland, OR decided they’d exercise their rights to search this public depository of personal information by going dumpster diving in the Police Chief’s, the Mayor’s and the District Attorney’s garbage cans.

They then went to said persons asking whether it was ok to search garbage. All of them said yes…until the reporters told them they had gone through their own garbage. How the tables suddenly turned.

The Police Chief was so upset he cut the reporters off midsentence and stopped the interview. The Mayor summoned the reporters to her office and nearly arrested them on the spot. The District Attorney, however, was playing the “hahhah, it’s funny” game and apparently wasn’t upset at all.


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