Supreme Court News

It is no secret nowadays that the government agencies have been tapping into our digital devices to listen to conversations of everyday citizens. This was first brought to light through multiple bills passed following the 9/11 attacks, most notably the Patriot Act in the early 2000’s and the Total Information Awareness which was established in 2011. These acts were in response to help fight foreign and domestic terrorist attacks in the United States. Whether our readers believe this is a good idea, or an invasion of our privacy, it is being studied by our Supreme Court justices.

More specifically, these Supreme Court justices are most concerned with the government’s ability to monitor people through their personal phone devices. In the past five years, the Supreme Court ruled that police were not allowed to use GPS equipment to track vehicles or search cellphones without a warrant. This was brought about by robberies in 2010 and 2011 in Michigan and Ohio, where the government was able to prosecute their case over a man named Timothy Carter by tracking his cell phone data over the course of the 127 days, marking him in proximity of the crimes. These record were released under the Stored Communications Act of 1986, which allows phone companies to turn over records if the government has reasonable grounds in helping an investigation. A search warrant requires a tougher probable cause standard.

Supreme Court News

Most Americans are aware of their “location” button on their cell phones, so it is no secret that people believe that their location information may not be private. However, privacy advocates believe that giving away location information could be the gateway for companies and the government to access our text messages, social media, email, browsing history and so on (if they aren’t already). There are government officials who believe that wireless carriers are, more or less, witnesses in a criminal investigation. Also, that these location records are not personal property deserving of privacy rights, but they are business data.

Although the cell phone providers may have a valid point about it being their business property, Justice Sotomayor believes, “Most Americans, I still think, want to avoid Big Brother.” Despite what companies think, or what the public wants, the Supreme Court may have to leave this vote up for Congress in the years to come.

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