News and past events

Cost of Admission: Your Right to Privacy at the Border and at Ports of Entry

What does it cost to enter the United States? For American citizens and immigrants alike, people are increasingly being asked to leave their right to privacy at home. From biometric scanning to detention, your rights function differently at borders and airports -- and that can change even more based on your race and nationality.
Please join the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee and the Niskanen Center for an expert panel discussion exploring the privacy costs of entering the United States. Representatives Farenthold and Polis also made remarks during the event.
Panelists include:
·  Kristie De Peña, counsel, Niskanen Center,
·  Joshua Dratel, founder and president, Law Offices of Joshua L. Dratel, P.C.,
·  Laura Moy, moderator, deputy director of the Center on Privacy & Technology, Georgetown University Law Center,
·  Jumana Musa, senior privacy and national security counsel, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and
·  Paromita Shah, associate director of the National Immigration Project, National Lawyers Guild.

Cost of Admission: Your Right to Privacy at the Border and at Ports of Entry
Wednesday, May 3rd at 2:30 p.m.
Rayburn HOB Room 2226, Washington, DC
With remarks from Repsresentatives Farenthold and Polis

Sean Vitka
Section 702 vs. The Fourth Amendment

On April 26th, the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee hosted a panel of experts to discuss Section 702, the controversial authority governing PRISM and Upstream surveillance that is set to expire at the end of 2017.

The event, in Rayburn HOB, was put on in concert with the Fourth Amendment Caucus. Caucus co-chair Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) joined to make statements, which can be viewed at 32:10 in the video below.

Panelists included:

  • Alex Abdo, senior staff attorney at Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University,
  • Austin Carson, moderator, executive director for TechFreedom,
  • Josh Withrow, director of public policy for Free the People, and
  • Kate Tummarello, policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee hosts these panels to bring experts to DC and in the interest of presenting Congressional staff with informative discussion. We thank the panel and Representative Poe for joining us.

Sean Vitka
The Usual Suspects: Bias in Government Surveillance

At The Usual Suspects: Bias in Government Surveillance, our expert panel discussed the profound impacts of the government's immense surveillance practices and the different ways it affects different people. The event took place on November 30th, 2016, in Rayburn HOB, room 2226.


  • Alvaro Bedoya, moderator, executive director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law;
  • Sakira Cook, counsel at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights;
  • Chinyere´ Tutashinda, national organizer at the Center for Media Justice;
  • Xiaoxing Xi, professor and former chairman of Temple University's Physics Department and an innocent target of government surveillance; and
  • Harlan Yu, principal and technologist at Upturn.

If you don't have time to watch the whole panel, be sure to listen to Professor Xi's story — one of unjust prosecution, spying, and raids. The audio of Professor Xi's introduction is louder in this version, as well.

Sean Vitka
Hacking the World, a discussion of changes to Rule 41

Rule 41 is a Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure that governs when judges may issue warrants. On December 1st, absent action from Congress, a change will go into effect that will dramatically expand the authority of the government to hack into computers. In short, the changes would allow law enforcement to apply for a warrant that allows agents to hack into any number of computers in any number of jurisdictions in certain circumstances.

What happens if FBI malware damages innocent people’s computers? Would this change increase forum shopping? Is such hacking even lawful? On September 28, 2016, our panel of experts discussed what’s going on and what they believe Congress should do about it.

The Fourth Amendment Caucus was created to defend the Fourth Amendment, which protects the privacy of people against unreasonable government searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee was founded to support the caucus’s goals by educating Congress, engaging the public, and convening discussions about how to protect Americans’ right to privacy.

WHEN: September 28th, 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2226, Washington, D.C.

Panelists include:
* Nate Cardozo, Senior Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation;
* Peter Goldberger, Attorney, co-chair of Rules of Procedure Committee, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers;
* Robyn Greene, Policy Counsel and Government Affairs Lead, Open Technology Institute; and
* Sascha Meinrath, moderator, Director of X-Lab, Palmer Chair in Telecommunications at Penn State University, and Chairman of the Board of the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee.

Sean Vitka
Commending the launch of the Fourth Amendment Caucus and Announcing the Creation of the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee


For Immediate Release

July 13, 2016  

Washington, D.C. - A bipartisan group of 25 representatives today announced the formation of the Fourth Amendment Caucus. The Fourth Amendment Caucus’s mission is to ensure that our constitutionally protected right to privacy is not infringed upon by the government. Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), founders of the caucus, are longstanding leaders in the fight to protect Americans’ right to privacy, and we commend them and their colleagues for joining together to lead the charge on this critical issue.

Today also marks the creation of the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee, an independent organization that supports the goals of the Fourth Amendment Caucus by educating the American people and lawmakers about threats to our civil liberties.

Sean Vitka, Director of the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee, said: “Today’s announcement by 25 Members of Congress from across the political spectrum establishing the Fourth Amendment Caucus is a major step forward in the fight to protect Americans’ privacy. It signals a shift away from frenzied security theater, toward thoughtful policymaking, and an end to unconstitutional, warrantless privacy intrusions.”

The Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee’s steering board (see below) reflects the breadth of bipartisan support for surveillance reform and the many different ways in which Fourth Amendment violations are experienced: from massive digital intrusions to targeted surveillance of communities of color and activists. Statements of support follow:

David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress said: “Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and their 23 colleagues should be applauded for their commitment to defend Americans' privacy in the face of the surveillance state. Congress must protect privacy from the many efforts to undermine it. Millions of progressives and conservatives nationwide are fed up with the sacrifice of our constitutional rights for the sake of security theater.”

“Civil liberties are at the core of our Constitution,” added Neil Siefring, Director of Government Relations at FreedomWorks. “They should be front and center when Congress debates surveillance and related issues. The bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus will help make sure this happens and that the voices of the American people are heard when Congress legislates in regard to privacy."

“In the past 20 years, we have seen increasingly invasive surveillance and pervasive profiling based on race, national origin and religion, which has threatened our Fourth Amendment rights. The fallacy of ‘we must do to this for security’ has been used at the expense of abridging the constitutional rights of Arab Americans and communities of color. We can no longer stand idle,” said Yolanda Rondon, Staff Attorney at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

“The Fourth Amendment Caucus is an admirable joining of the left and right, as is the wealth of expertise within the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee,” said Josh Withrow, Director of Public Policy at Free the People. “It's long overdue that we have a formal organization within Congress that represents the passion, commitment, and broad support that surveillance reform enjoys from the American people.”

Fight for the Future co-director Tiffiniy Cheng said: “Today, tens of millions of Americans are changing their online activity and self-censoring in response to current warrantless surveillance practices, a widespread diminution of freedom of expression that has no place in a free society. Against the wishes of millions, a good part of Congress has been working for entrenched interests to the detriment of our basic rights and national security. The members of this caucus are leaders who understand the gravity of the public's call for reform, and it behooves the rest of Congress to follow in their footsteps.”

“In an era of escalating police violence, Black communities urgently need political leadership to protect us from illegal search and seizure, invasions of privacy, and other Fourth Amendment violations,” said Malkia Cyril, Director of the Center for Media Justice and co-founder of the Media Action Grassroots Network. “A bipartisan Fourth Amendment congressional caucus responds to the call of millions across this country to build the political will for new approaches to security and accountability that protect the constitutional rights of Black people and other communities of color.”

Ryan Hagemann, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Analyst at the Niskanen Center, said: “Government surveillance is among the most pressing issues today. Preserving our Constitutional rights is not a partisan issue: it's at the core of what we value most about America. To that end, the Fourth Amendment Caucus and Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee is a welcome bipartisan voice that will positively contribute to surveillance reform efforts.”

“The Fourth Amendment Caucus and the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee represent a new left-right alliance fighting to restore privacy as a foundational civil liberty for American Democracy,” stated Sascha Meinrath, President of the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee Steering Board and Palmer Chair at Penn State University. “Conservatives and progressives vociferously agree -- it’s time to reclaim our right to privacy.”

The inaugural Congressional members of the Fourth Amendment Caucus include:

  • Justin Amash (R-MI)
  • Mo Brooks (R-AL)
  • Michael Capuano (D-MA)
  • Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
  • Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
  • Blake Farenthold (R-TX)
  • Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
  • Scott Garrett (R-NJ)
  • Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
  • Paul Gosar (R-AZ)
  • Walter Jones (R-NC)
  • Jim Jordan (R-OH)
  • Hank Johnson (D-GA)
  • Dan Kildee (D-MI)
  • Barbara Lee (D-CA)
  • John Lewis (D-GA)
  • Ted Lieu  (D-CA)
  • Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
  • Thomas Massie (R-KY)
  • Tom McClintock (R-CA)
  • Beto O'Rourke (D-TX)
  • Scott Perry (R-PA)
  • Ted Poe (R-TX)
  • Jared Polis (D-CO)
  • David Schweikert (R-AZ)

The inaugural steering board of the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee includes (titles and organizations for identification purposes only):

  • Tiffiniy Cheng, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Fight for the Future
  • Malkia Cyril, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Center for Media Justice
  • Sandra Fulton, Government Relations Manager, Free Press
  • Mike Godwin, R Street Institute
  • Jennifer Granick, Director of Civil Liberties, Stanford Center for Internet and Society
  • Ryan Hagemann, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Analyst, Niskanen Center
  • Sascha Meinrath, Director of X-Lab and Palmer Chair in Telecommunications, Penn State University
  • Yolanda Rondon, Staff Attorney, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
  • Daniel Schuman, Policy Director, Demand Progress
  • Neil Siefring, Director of Government Relations, FreedomWorks
  • Sean Vitka, ex officio, Director, Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee
  • Marcy Wheeler, Independent Journalist and Founder, emptywheel.net
  • Josh Withrow, Director of Public Policy, Free the People

For additional information about the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee, visit our website: www.fourthadvisory.org or contact the Committee at info@fourthadvisory.org. For more information about the Fourth Amendment Caucus, please contact the member offices.


Sean Vitka