In Kyllo v. United States (2001), the U.S. Supreme Court held that use of a technological device to explore the details of a home that would previously have been unknown without physical intrusion is a search and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant. The federal prosecutor argued that thermal imaging does not constitute a search because (1) “it detects only heat radiating from the external surface of the house” and therefore there was no entry, and (2) it did not detect private activities occurring in private areas because “everything that was detected was on the outside.”
The Court has ruled that plain view, plain odor, and plain touch are all constitutional. In Kyllo v. United States, the Court ruled the use of a thermal imaging device on a home was presumptively unreasonable without a warrant.
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