That's not completely correct. The Fourth Amendment was enacted specifically to prevent writs of assistance, which were commonly used in Britain to give law enforcement officers broad, nearly unlimited power to conduct searches for contraband or smuggled goods. The Fourth Amendment was enacted to prevent law enforcement officers from having this broad power to search anywhere and everywhere, even if there was reasonable evidence of a crime.
Part of the danger of broad writs or warrants is that (1) they unduly invade a person's fundamental right to privacy, and (2) the adoption of the plain view exception to the exclusionary rule will make you liable for anything the police uncover, whether it's related to the crime being searched for or not. So if the police go searching your hard drives for child pornography and uncover evidence that you bought some pot from a friend via e-mail, that evidence can and will be used against you.
You are correct in that a search may be so broad as to search for evidence of the thing to be seized. However, the presumption is and should always be tailored as narrowly as possible. Simply saying that the police do not know where the gun is does not give the police powers to search any property the suspect owns. The police may search his house and anywhere in it, but the boundaries must be narrowly tailored so as to survive constitutional scrutiny. In the case of e-mail, any communications with people not directly implicated or otherwise material to the crime should be excluded, as there is relative certainty that material information will not be communicated with these parties (for example, you aren't going to find evidence of child pornography in my weekly Mint financial statement updates or newsletters I receive). As such, it is likely that the scope of this warrant is over-broad.
This is why I store all of my flash drives in a Milkbone box: hiding in plain sight.
No, this ruling essentially makes "on a computer" claims go away. The only way something can be patented is if it's sufficiently novel to warrant patentability; the Court in this case said that an idea performed "on a computer," absent any practical benefits other than the computer itself, is not patentable. Also, your frustration with the Supreme Court is unwarranted; SCOTUS has been very good about limiting patents in the wake of the Federal Circuit's pro-patent agenda.
Of course, you also forget that (according to Internet memes' interpretations of SCOTUS) corporations are people, too.
Alice Corp. was the assignee of several patents for mitigating "settlement risk" via software. Software claims in patent law usually occur in two parts: a method of performing the claimed function and a system for performing the prior claimed method. This basically lets a patent holder guard against people manipulating their way around the system or method claims to perform the exact same function, such as by using a remote server instead of a local hard drive, or querying before step A as opposed to after step A. Alice Corp. had both a system and method patent for mitigating settlement risk. Specifically, the claim contemplated two parties using a third-party intermediary, in this case a computer, to create account ledgers (or "shadow accounts," as the patent called them) based on the accounts of both primary parties, determining available versus unavailable funds, calculating a risk for a given set of transactions, and then issuing instructions to the parties telling them what transactions are permitted and what transactions are too risky to engage in.
The patent itself was to "facilitate the exchange of financial obligations between two parties by using a computer system as a third-party intermediary." If this sounds like an abstract business method, that's because it is. Alice Corp.'s patent was basically a claim to mitigating settlement risk by employing a third party on a computer. The intermediary was just the computer in this case. The district court found that the patent was too vague, because it really only contemplated an idea. The Federal Court on first hearing reversed, saying that it wasn't "manifestly evident" that the patent ideas were abstract, so the case should be litigated rather than dismissed on summary judgment. On second hearing en banc (i.e. with all the Federal Circuit judges present, the Federal Circuit changed its position and determined that the method claims were invalid. There was some internal dispute, however, as to whether the system claims -- i.e. a claim over a computer that performs the function -- was valid.
The Supreme Court determined, in an opinion written by Justice Thomas, that both the method and system claims were abstract and therefore invalid. The rule under a cased called Mayo Collaborative Services v. Promethius Labs requires that an abstract idea, to be patentable, must have some practically beneficial application to either the computer system implementing it or to some other kind of technology. For example, it might be common knowledge that plucking a guitar string emanates a harmonic frequency, so I can't patent plucking a guitar string, but if I find a new, beneficial use for plucking a guitar string, such as a patent on plucking guitar strings to encourage the growth and development of plants (yes, it's nonsensical -- I can't invent good, patentable things on the spot!), then I could patent that. Here, though, the court asked "whether the claims at issue here do more than simply instruct the practitioner to implement the abstract idea of intermediated settlement in a generic computer." Laconically, the Court concluded, "They do not."
So what does this mean for software patents? Well they still are valid as more than just math. Though the Court didn't address the issue directly, it has been generally held that software is sufficiently transformative to warrant patentability. While not a favorite opinion here on Slashdot, that's not altogether nonsensical; if software is sufficiently artistic enough to be copyrightable, then it stands to reason that it has been sufficiently transformed from some natural state to warrant patentability as well. That said, algorithms are not patentable. A software claim that only protects against doing specific math, as opposed to being comprised of math, is not valid and will be (and has been) invalidated. What's the difference? You have to take your tech beanies off and look at it from the perspective of very intelligent, but non-technical 60+ year-olds.
What this case does do is extend Bilski to the software world. You couldn't patent an idea. Now it's articulated that you can't patent an idea on a computer. So finally, all of those irate claims we've made about "that's just a patent for doing X on a computer!" has some valid case law supporting it.
Law school graduate, not a lawyer (yet), who works in a patent law firm. This isn't legal advice. Blah, blah.
It's not about having "a phone" killed. It's about the ability to have phoneS killed. Plural.
No. I intentionally decided against the paranoid option.
What purpose would it serve for the NSA to brick a bunch of phoneS at one time?
Other than making a very big, very public story? Which would get a LOT of airplay in the media.
If the NSA needs service cut in a specific area they can already do that.
You mean like how the installation of clothes-penetrating image scanners wouldn't need to be implemented when dangerous objects can already be better detected by more conventional screens and selected pat-downs? It's for the same reason the U.S. has toyed with the idea of an Internet kill switch and a way to disable cars remotely: when one becomes addicted to power, the ends of power obtained justify the means of obtaining it.
The federal government does not particularly care what temporary effect such measures will have on media and the general public; the ability to do it at all justifies (to them) its implementation.
You can try, but I bet that in the future they laugh
at the half-assed schemes and algorithms amassed
to enforce cryptographs in the past.
Time, place, and manner restrictions. If there is something about the location, time, or manner in which the speech is made that is compelling enough to warrant a restriction, the government has the right to restrict such speech. Critics consider this to be a carte blanche to government regulation of content and speech, but it is also what prevents you from violating city noise ordinances and from screaming incessantly in a court room. It also is what creates so-called "speech-free zones." I personally would like to see the issue left in the hands of airline policy, but because airlines are common carriers and there is something compelling about being trapped in an aluminum tube with hundreds of potential chatterboxes, I can definitely see the government believing it has the right to regulate speech to prevent common-law based nuisances.
Case in point, a bill has been proposed to prevent phone use on airplanes despite the FCC's proposed lift on restrictions. The bill is co-sponsored by Lamar Alexander and Dianne Feinstein. Any topic that can get those two muppets to agree and side with one another must be a topic of nuclear concern.