Huge news this past weekend, and a tremendous victory for privacy rights.
On Friday, June 22nd, 2018, the long-awaited outcome in Carpenter v. the United States was decided. The Supreme Court of the United States held 5-4 that police need the warrant to get location information from cell phone tower sites. This has major implications for privacy laws, 4th Amendment search & seizure, and legal conceptions of digital information and devices gathering by 3rd parties.
This Carpenter v. United States decision was boosted on the foundation of three prior vital privacy cases. In the United States v. Miller, the decision addressed police accessing business records held by third parties. Also, in Smith v. Maryland, this case addressed police access to non-content phone records. Finally, in the United States v. Jones, it dealt with police use of a geo-location device.
I’m glad the Supreme Court is beginning to comprehend the surveillance power of smartphone technologies. GPS turned on allows anyone with the correct tools to know where you are and where you have been, from months to years in the past. It’s a wonder that it took a Supreme Court judgment to ensure warrantless tracking would no longer be freely permitted.
Should this decision really be cause for celebration? Just for the restoration of a constitutional right? Yes and no. The practice can and will continue I believe, it’s just not usable in court when not permitted by warrant.
Bush and Obama had gone a long way towards eliminating our right to privacy solely in the name of “national INsecurity”. This is definitely a cause to celebrate for the surveillance state to end. Maybe, time will tell, but I still think the neo-cons will continue violating privacy laws and violating the constitution. This also can mean non-disclosures in violation of laws continuing solely in the name of so-called National Security reasons.
Justice Roberts has allowed for only two exceptions in obtaining an individuals location without a warrant. The first exception is in emergency cases pertaining to bomb threats, child abductions, and active shootings. The second exception is whether law enforcement seeking a smaller window of records in seven days constitute a fourth amendment search.