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CLIP Lectures and Talks

This series of annual lectures and talks brings leaders and authors to Fordham and other special venues to explore major issues related to law and technology in society.


It's Too Complicated: How the Internet Upends Katz, Smith, and Electronic Surveillance Law
by Steve Bellovin

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
4 - 5:50 p.m.

150 West 62nd Street
New York, New York 10023
Room 3-01

For 40 years, technical surveillance has been set by two cases, Katz (1967), where the Court held that wiretaps were searches within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment and hence required a warrant, and Smith (1979), which held that under the third party doctrine, pen registers (which record dialed numbers) are not searches and hence do not require a warrant. Put more generally, content is protected by the Fourth Amendment; metadata is not. On the Internet, though, the boundary between the two is not nearly as clear.

In this talk, Columbia University Professor of Computer Science and CLIP Visiting Scholar Steve Bellovin addresses why and how we now find ourselves bereft of the once reliable support these foundational legal structures provided and demonstrates the urgent need for the development of new rules and principles capable of regulating law enforcement access to Internet communications data.

The talk is based on the paper titled It's Too Complicated: How the Internet Upends Katz, Smith, and Electronic Surveillance Law, by Steven M. Bellovin, Matt Blaze, Susan Landau, and Stephanie K. Pell, which is published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology.

Please register by Friday, March 22.

For questions, please email

Past Talks

Past Lectures

  • 3/13/08 - Second Annual Law and Information Society Lecture: Intellectual Property and the Internet
  • 1/16/07 - Inaugural Law and Information Society Lecture: Net Neutrality