privacy

Supreme Court Hands Over Major Victory in Phone-Privacy Case

Even in a nation as wonderfully free as the United States, we must always be on the lookout for way to prevent tyranny from creeping into our culture.

This was the entire ethos of the founding of America:  Freedom, of all kinds.  Freedom to pursue your passion.  Freedom to raise a family with your values.  Freedom to speak out against the injustices of an overreaching government who would milk us like cattle for their Big Industry friends on Capitol Hill.

We all too often forget that the very reason America exists is not to make sure that people’s feeling aren’t hurt, or to prop up those who wouldn’t work for themselves.  No, America is a land of opportunity.  It is a petrie dish for your own biome of creativity, enthusiasm, and hard work.

America is the medium.  We The People are the culture brewing upon it.

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This means that, even in the slightest cases of government overreach, we must stand committed to our freedoms.  We mustn’t allow any government official or representative exert power over us that is not warranted or expressly created by the Constitution.  Remember, any laws that are not pursuant to the Constitution are, by their very nature, invalid.

As technology continues to push upward to incredible heights, there has been a gap between where our advancements are taking us and where the law should begin and end.  Such was the case for far too long in the example of cell phone privacy, but, thanks to a newly reconfigured supreme court, Americans are finally getting the hands-off approach they were guaranteed by the founding fathers.

In a 5-4 decision on Friday, the justices said police need warrants to gather phone location data as evidence for trials. That reversed and remanded a decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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.

The legal and privacy concern was that police gathered the four months’ worth of Carpenter’s digital footprints without a warrant. A Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled that cellphone location data is not protected by the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable search and seizure, and therefore didn’t require a warrant.

In the Supreme Court’s ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the government’s searches of Carpenter’s phone records were considered a Fourth Amendment search.

This “digital footprint” is the key issue here.

Modern Americans are living in a new world of technological tentacles creeping into our normal, everyday routines.  It would be far more difficult to not leave a digital footprint than it is to leave one, making any advantage gained by this near-necessity not punishable by a sidestepping of our rights.

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