Policy ForumSCIENCE AND LAW

WMD Sensors--Search and Seizure

Science  11 Nov 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5750, pp. 978
DOI: 10.1126/science.1115536

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Summary

Many laboratories--government, university, industrial--are developing technologies to search for weapons of mass destruction. Virtually all of the operational search scenarios would preclude law enforcement from first obtaining a search warrant. If scientists understand the factors courts examine when determining the legitimacy of warrantless searches, achieving a balance between the dictates of the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties and the modern realities of a democratic society threatened by terrorist use of WMD becomes simpler. This Policy Forum provides a review of some of the issues courts have considered when reviewing warrantless searches, how they might apply to current and planned systems, and speculates on technical approaches that might be pursued which would give law enforcement the tools they need and can use.

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