The Wiretapping of Things

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Obviously, there is tradeoff between enforcement needs and capabilities and privacy. Allowing government agencies to wiretap the Internet of Things, or access its stored communication, is by nature an intrusive form of enforcement that might jeopardize the right to privacy and thus must be further scrutinized prior to any use. The move toward a potential “always-on” era — when most individuals are constantly surrounded by IoT devices — raises several normative questions that must be further scrutinized prior to the use of IoT by enforcement agencies. Is the current legal framework that governs stored communications and wiretapping, originally designed for computers and telephones, still relevant for these new technological developments? Could the state gain access to IoT devices in real time — and “wiretap” them? Do the current requirements of obtaining a wiretap warrant change in light of IoT capabilities? How should policymakers balance the potential need to acquire such data against safeguarding privacy? And what does the digital future of biometric identification entail regarding the lawful use of enforcement agencies and its potential impact on society?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-794
Number of pages62
JournalU.C. Davis Law Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • Wiretapping
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Criminal investigation
  • Computer networks
  • Internet of things


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