Skip to comments.Supreme Court says warrant necessary for phone location data in win for privacy
Posted on 06/22/2018 7:42:59 AM PDT by DCBryan1
The US Supreme Court has ruled in favor of digital privacy.
In a 5-4 decision on Friday the justices decided that police need warrants to gather phone location data as evidence for trials. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the Sixth Circuit court's decision.
Carpenter v. United States is the first case about phone location data that the Supreme Court has ruled on. That makes it a landmark decision regarding how law enforcement agencies can use technology as they build cases. The court heard arguments in the case on Nov. 29.
The dispute dates back to a 2011 robbery in Detroit, after which police gathered months of phone location data from Timothy Carpenter's phone provider. They pulled together 12,898 different locations from Carpenter, over 127 days
(Excerpt) Read more at cnet.com ...
That’s rare. I actually find myself in agreement with the four liberals (and Roberts) who ruled that cell phone location data is protected by the 4th amendment. I wonder what the reasoning was for the conservative wing dissenting?
This is not a game changer as warrants are freely issued.
Further, can today's ruling be extended to protect all digital tracking information--your phone, your tablet, your car, electronic road passes, etc.?
One again, Justice Thomas’ dissenting opinion is clear and to the point:
“This case should not turn on whether a search occurred.
Ante, at 1. It should turn, instead, on whose
property was searched. The Fourth Amendment guarantees
individuals the right to be secure from unreasonable
searches of their persons, houses, papers, and effects.
(Emphasis added.) In other words, each person has the
right to be secure against unreasonable searches . . . in his
own person, house, papers, and effects. Minnesota v.
Carter, 525 U. S. 83, 92 (1998) (Scalia, J., concurring). By
obtaining the cell-site records of MetroPCS and Sprint, the
Government did not search Carpenters property. He did
not create the records, he does not maintain them, he
cannot control them, and he cannot destroy them. Neither
the terms of his contracts nor any provision of law makes
the records his. The records belong to MetroPCS and
Agreed. One really needs to read the opinion of Justice Gorsuch as well. President Trump really did pick a good one.
“This is not a game changer as warrants are freely issued.”
So people like Hillary won’t ever have the warrant issued against them.
Now add your computer, your phone, your vehicle, your aftermarket GPS, even your old TV or radio antennas to the mix to locate people, track their movement, to prove their collusion in drug deals, prostitution, politically motivated riots or membership in Antifata, etc.
This is why after working for the USG in certain fields I never use a phone without a battery that can be removed, and I keep an old vehicle without OnStar or GPS.
I believe the conservative rationale is that you should have no expectation of privacy and security of information when you are using technology that puts your sensitive/secure information in the hands of a third party anyway.
I disagree with Thomas. Even if the records were collected and “belong” to someone else, I do think it is important to have search warrant before accessing. There are so many collections of our data which we are not aware of that should be respected. Your car tracks you, the road toll pass, the bank ATM (which you used, the pic of you showing your attire and if anyone with you, etc.), your online activity (bet there are plenty of tracking records about which site you have visited, pages, and so forth, much beyond Google and despite any blocking programs you might install). We should be protected and respected in all.
This sounds like a fascinating case, and I think Justice Thomas applies the law correctly.
This is one of those cases where I may not have liked the ramifications of the dissenting opinion but I believe that opinion is correct on the law.
I asked on another thread why the phone company is the “third party” instead of the “second party” in what is a two-party transaction. If I am the “first party” and the phone company is the “third party”, who is the “second party”?
I have one app on my iPhone for my phone carrier. Every other app is produced, licensed and maintained by someone other than my phone carrier. Who is the “third party” in this case? Good question!
I've always thought this was BS. But it was accepted in Smith vs. Maryland, which was cited as precedent here. The dissent there was that picking up the phone that Ma Bell gave you, therefore connecting to Ma Bell's network, so that when you called somebody else, Ma Bell would know that the number that Ma Bell gave you was making a call, so that Ma Bell could send you a bill from Ma Bell, was somehow "volunteering personal information" and not simply dialing the damn phone.
Yea right. Thanks Gorsuch!
Huh? Did you read him in context?
“What to do? It seems to me we could respond in at least
three ways. The first is to ignore the problem, maintain
Smith and Miller, and live with the consequences. If the
confluence of these decisions and modern technology
means our Fourth Amendment rights are reduced to nearly
nothing, so be it. The second choice is to set Smith and
Miller aside and try again using the Katz reasonable
expectation of privacy jurisprudence that produced them.
The third is to look for answers elsewhere.”
He is clearly saying that ignoring the problem would result in the eroding of the 4th Amendment, and that is not a good thing.
I am a cyber security professional. I agree 100 percent with Justice Thomas. Your cell meta data is not yours, it is the carrier’s. I believe that the owner of the data has the right to decide to request a warrant or not.
If the carrier wants to roll over and let the LEO community come in and search their database, then the customer should be made aware of that policy and the customer can decide if they wish to continue their service or go with a more “secure” provider.
IOW, let the marketplace decide
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