The touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness, for it concerns the realm of individual liberty, not expediency in law enforcement. And it is in this light that the Supreme Court has recognized a person’s constitutionally protected “reasonable expectation of privacy.” The private search doctrine evolved in response to contemporary developments to enable the government to repeat a search previously executed by a private party without violating the Fourth Amendment insofar as the latter search does not exceed the scope of the private conduct. The rationale is that once information is unveiled by a private search, the expectation of privacy is defeated. This note will examine the Fifth Circuit’s application of the private search doctrine to searches of electronic files, and briefly discuss an alternative analysis under the single-purpose container doctrine.
Tri T. Truong, Note, “Hashing” in the Cloud: The Private Search Defense is Active and Potent, 72 SMU L. Rev. 343 (2019)