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Abstract

We have become a surveillance state. Cameras—both those controlled by the state, and those installed by private entities—watch our every move, at least in public. For the most part, courts have deemed this public surveillance to be beyond the purview of the Fourth Amendment, meaning that it goes largely unregulated—a cause for alarm for many civil libertarians. This Article challenges these views and suggests that we must listen to communities in thinking about cameras and other surveillance technologies. For many communities, public surveillance not only has the benefit of deterring crime and aiding in the apprehension of criminals. It can also function to monitor the police, reduce racial profiling, curb police brutality, and ultimately increase perceptions of legitimacy. The question thus becomes not how we can use the Fourth Amendment to limit public surveillance, but rather: “How can we use the Fourth Amendment to harness public surveillance’s full potential?”