The first of several panels about technology surveillance at South By Southwest this year kicked off Friday with a piece of the U.S. Constitution.

Moderator Scott Shackford, an associate editor at, opened “Get a Warrant: The 4th Amendment and Digital Data,” by reciting the Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The ensuing discussion between Shackford and the panelists—Mike Godwin of the R Street Institute, Neema Guliani of the American Civil Liberties Union, and Sean Vitka of Demand Progress and Fight for the Future—touched on how the federal government’s surveillance authority has expanded since 9/11 and the key pieces of related legislation Congress has or will review in the coming year.

Specifically, the panelists pointed to the Email Privacy Act, which the House passed unanimously in February but stalled in the Senate, as legislation that they said would codify what years of recent caselaw has found and individuals already expect: that their emails are private.

For more on the panel, follow the hashtag on Twitter: #FourthTech.