Late last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government officials have to obtain a warrant in order to track an individual’s location data via cell phone records over an extended period of time.
“In the 5-4 ruling, the court said police generally need a court-approved warrant to get access to the data, setting a higher legal hurdle than previously existed under federal law. The court said obtaining such data without a warrant from wireless carriers, as police routinely do, amounts to an unreasonable search and seizure under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment,” writes Newsmax.
In the case named Carpenter v. United States, the court ruled in Timothy Carpenter’s favor after he filed the suit after police connected him to several armed robberies at Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in Ohio and Michigan. His location data was tracked by police for 127 days back in 2011.
Carpenter’s lawyers argued that the police violated the Fourth Amendment because they needed “probable cause” to get Carpenter’s digital records from third-party carriers, therefore should have gotten a warrant.
“We hold that an individual maintains a legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements as captured through CSLI (cell-site location information),” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the court’s ruling. “Although such (cell phone) records are generated for commercial purposes, that distinction does not negate Carpenter’s anticipation of privacy in his physical location.”
Roberts also pointed out that technology is both a blessing and a curse, along with playing a “pervasive and insistent part of daily life.”
“Virtually any activity on the phone generates, including incoming calls, texts, or e-mails and countless other data connections that a phone automatically makes when checking for news, weather, or social media updates,” said Roberts. “Here the progress of science has afforded law enforcement a powerful new tool to carry out its important responsibilities. This tool risks Government encroachment of the sort the Framers after consulting the lessons of history, drafted the Fourth Amendment to prevent.”
This is the latest case where the court has boost privacy rights in the digital realm, but government officials can still get access to real-time location information.
This is still a step in the right direction and a victory for privacy advocates.
“For 40 years, the assumption has been that individuals have no expectation of privacy in any information we voluntarily share with third parties — from phone records to bank statements to how and where we buy and sell goods,” said Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst. “Even though today’s ruling argues that cell-site location data is unique, it’s easy to see how it will open the door to countless other contexts in which privacy advocates and criminal defendants will argue for similar privacy protections – and similar warrant requirements.”
ACLU attorney Nathan Freed Wessler expressed similar sentiments and said the case was “a groundbreaking victory for Americans’ privacy rights in the digital age.”
“The Supreme Court has given privacy law an update that it has badly needed for many years, finally bringing it in line with the realities of modern life,” said Wessler.
Author’s note: We still have a long way to go, but this case will likely inspire more rulings that protect individual’s privacy rights and personal data.
Editor’s note: Our privacy rights are the key to all of the rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Are we ever going to reverse this trend?
A majority of voters blame the parents of children who are separated at the border for the current illegal immigration crisis — not the federal government, according to a new survey.
The results give an interesting look into how people feel about who is ultimately responsible for the immigration debacle, which is now playing out on television screens around the world.
When families are arrested and separated after attempting to enter the United States illegally, 54 percent of likely U.S. voters say the parents are more to blame for breaking the law. Just 35 percent of those surveyed believe the federal government is more to blame for enforcing the law. Another 11 percent say they are not sure.
These are the findings of a new Rasmussen Report survey conducted by phone and online interviews from June 19 – 20. Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order to stop the policy of separating families of those caught entering the U.S. illegally along the U.S.–Mexico border.
Further analysis of the survey shows that 82 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of voters not affiliated with either major political party feel the parents are more to blame for breaking the law. But 60 percent of Democrats say the government is more to blame for enforcing the law.
The survey also queried participants about how aggressively the Trump Administration was enforcing the rule to separate children from parents. Once again, the results showed partisan divisions, with 75 percent of Democrats saying the Trump administration is too aggressive. Only 23 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of unaffiliated voters felt the administration was too aggressive.
The Trump Administration this week announced plans to use a 1977 emergency law to block Chinese investment in US tech and to limit tech exports to China.
More specifically, the proposal blocks companies with at least one-quarter Chinese ownership from purchasing US firms involved in “industrially significant technology” and seeks to limit the export of certain technologies to China.
The two-pronged approach is specifically designed to stop China from accomplishing its “Made in China 2025” initiative to become globally dominant in 10 areas of technology by the year 2025.
“The President has made clear his desire to protect American technology,” says Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross. “All possibilities that would better protect American technology, including potential changes to export controls, are under review.”
While the block on Chinese investment isn’t expected to have a huge effect on American businesses, some industries worry the new export controls could harm their businesses by preventing them from taking advantage of their technological edge. Others worry that declaring a national economic emergency will have a negative effect on the stock market and on US companies operating in China.
The proposal, which is still subject to change, would apply only to new deals and would not seek to undo existing ones. The Administration also said US industries would have the opportunity to comment on the proposal before it takes effect.
“There is opportunity for the administration to arrive at a formula for policy that addresses national-security risks in a targeted way and not put a blanket on activities that our companies are involved in every single day,” says Josh Kallmer of the Information Technology Industry Council, adding that he expects several companies to comment on the proposal.
The twin measures against China are among a series of economic actions Trump has justified by claiming a national security threat.
The steel and aluminum tariffs were imposed under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
The new restrictions on China will be enacted under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 – an emergency law which gives the president certain powers in the case of an “unusual and extraordinary threat” – that threat in this case being China’s spying and theft of intellectual property.
Opponents have criticized Trump for using the security threat rationale to accomplish his trade objectives.
“The administration is saying, ‘if we declare everything a national security issue we can do whatever we want,’” argues China expert Derek Scissors. “It’s a misuse of executive power.”
The new restrictions on China follow threats by Trump to impose tariffs on up to $450 billion of Chinese goods. A 25% tariff on $34 billion of Chinese imports is scheduled to go into effect on July 6th.
Thanks to increased federal scrutiny of foreign deals, Chinese investment in the US has already dropped more than 90% compared to this time last year. And Congress is also considering a separate proposal that would further increase the scrutiny of foreign business deals to determine the risk that “critical technology” will be transferred to other countries.
Editor’s note: This IS a threat and Trump is negotiating fiercely. No other president seems to have ever had the guts to go toe to toe with not only China, but Europe and our other trading partners who have been taking advantage of our good will.