X-Ray Vision

A surprising Supreme Court ruling sheds light--and other beams--on the latest snooping technology

The technology that the nine justices of the Supreme Court wrestled with last week was relatively crude: a heat-sensing gun pointed at a house in Florence, Ore., by federal agents on the lookout for homegrown marijuana. In 1992, a cop using the device had spotted a lot of excess heat coming off high-intensity grow lights. Police searched the house, found more than 100 plants and arrested one of its occupants--a small-time marijuana grower named Danny Kyllo. Kyllo appealed the case all the way to the highest court, arguing that by using infrared technology to pry into his home, the government had...

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