What good would all this other spying do if the government could not track your every move physically? And what better way to do that without having to buy equipment to do it? They will use your own cell phone against you! This is good law for now, but this will NEVER hold up once it gets appealed to the Supreme Court. Just this past year the Court decided on GPS tracking of suspected CRIMINALS… much less ordinary people, but since a phone is not “technically a GPS tracker” we’ll have to wait until a phone case bubbles its way up to the Highest Court in the Land.
- In United States v. Jones, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said that as conceived in the 18th century, the Fourth Amendment’s protection of “persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” would extend to private property such as an automobile.
- “The Government physically occupied private property for the purpose of obtaining information. We have no doubt that such a physical intrusion would have been considered a ‘search’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when it was adopted,” Justice Scalia wrote, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor.
- Advocates for privacy said that despite the differences, the court’s unanimity on the outcome sent a strong message.
- “This is a signal event in Fourth Amendment history,” said Walter Dellinger, a former acting solicitor general who represented the defendant, Antoine Jones.
- The government said Federal Bureau of Investigation agents use GPS tracking devices in thousands of investigations each year. It argued that attaching the tiny tracking device to a car’s undercarriage was too trivial a violation of property rights to matter, and that no one who drove in public streets could expect his movements to go unmonitored. Police were free to employ the tactic for any reason without showing probable cause to a magistrate and getting a search warrant, the government said.
Good news: Sooner or later that will overturn. Bad news: As of now, the government can listen to every word you say on your cell phone (even when it’s on OFF) and somehow the crazy ninth circuit decided they don’t even need a warrant for that. How that is not a search is beyond me. The Fourth Amendment States:
- “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 only way to prevent them from eavesdropping (IF they want to, is to remove the battery).
[Audio/Video below cannot be seen in Newsletter – have to go to Blog]
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit delivered another blow to the Fourth Amendment this week when it ruled the police do not need a search warrant to track cell phones.
The court ruled that because cell phone records are owned by phone providers the user has no expectation of privacy and thus no search warrant is required to access data.
“The court did not address whether people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their movements and made clear its decision only concerned obtaining historical cell site records when a user makes or ends a phone call,” Hanni Fakhoury writes for the Electronic Frontier Foundation today.
According to the court, a location is voluntarily turned over when the “user makes a choice to get a phone, to select a particular service provider, and to make a call.”
The lower court was able to make this decision because the Supreme Court is reluctant to rule on the Fourth Amendment and new technologies.
The so-called “third party doctrine” — the premise that you have no expectation of privacy if information is turned over to third parties — “is dangerously eroding our Fourth Amendment protection at a time when cell phone companies and Internet service providers are stockpiling extensive personal information about all of us,” writes Fakhoury for the EFF.
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