Supreme Court to Hear Arguments About Cellphone Data Privacy

Discussion in '[H]ard|OCP Front Page News' started by Montu, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. Montu

    Montu [H]ard DCOTM x4

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    The Supreme Court is going to hear arguments today about the use of cellphone data in criminal investigations. This case involves a robber named Timothy Carpenter that was caught after cops requested his cell phone data (locations) from his carrier and used it to place him at the scene of multiple robberies. The defense says they should have gotten a search warrant and that the data was illegally obtained. I'm not sure which way this is going to go, but I suspect the government may win this one.

    The legal fight has raised questions about the degree to which companies protect their customers' privacy rights. The big four wireless carriers, Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc, T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp, receive tens of thousands of these requests annually from law enforcement.
     
  2. katanaD

    katanaD Limp Gawd

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    hmmm. on the one hand, there is nothing wrong with ASKING the cell company for info, but they should have the right to refuse to unless compelled to by warrant. But i see no info about the cell company refusing any requests. Also the location info the cell company has is the property of the cell phone company, not the person who holds the phone, as this is data obtained from the cell towers they own. they are not obtaining it from the phone itself. So they are free to do with the data as they please, which they seem happy to hand out to ANYONE for marketing, so why not the police?
     
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  3. cocheese256

    cocheese256 Gawd

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    I was about to say the exact same thing. The police did not acquire the information by force or illegally, they simply asked for it. The wireless company gave them the info on their free will.
    In my business, I hold records for customers. I do not release that information freely. That being said, I do not have a written agreement with my clients that dictates how I handle their information outside of privacy laws. At this time, what I do with that information is at my discretion. I have worked with law enforcement and insurance fraud investigators. If I feel like it is a legitimate request, I cooperate with them. If I think it is unfair, I can refuse and wait for a warrant.
     
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  4. PantherBlitz

    PantherBlitz Limp Gawd

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    You guys pretty much nailed it but that article was lacking detail. Did the police already have him as a suspect, and simply used the cell data to reinforce their case, or were they fishing and found the guy by matching his location to the other crimes?
     
  5. sadsteve

    sadsteve Limp Gawd

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    Heh, note to self: If I ever decide to become a burglar, leave my phone at home when I'm working! :)
     
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  6. gamerk2

    gamerk2 Gawd

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    From other articles I've read, they used the data from the cell towers to identify the defendant as the one who likely committed the crimes. So in essence, what the police did was get ALL the cell tower data, and use that to figure out who was near the scene of each robbery to identify a suspect.

    To be clear: This is NOT a case where a single persons location data was voluntarily given up. This is a case where police got information on everyone to figure out who did it.
     
  7. BSmith

    BSmith [H]Lite

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    With all the phone apps which track your location out there, I would have figured the information would be considered to be in the public domain by now.
     
  8. steakman1971

    steakman1971 [H]ard|Gawd

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    I'm all about catching the bad guys and want law enforcement to be able to do their job. However, I think they should go through the legal system and obtain search warrants and have a system of checks and balances.
     
  9. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    FFS, get the warrant. It's not like it would have been denied.

    I'm of course assuming this guy was suspected beforehand. If they just blanket searched the robbery locations for cells in that area to locate a possible suspect, that's a gray area.
     
  10. PhaseII

    PhaseII [H]Lite

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    The implications are much larger than acquiring cell phone location records without a warrant. The SCOTUS decision can potentially evolve the interpretations of the Fourth Amendment. Just as the courts ruled that a cell phone is essentially an extension of the home due to its extensive repository of personal information and almost absolute necessity in the 21st century (and thereby categorized under search and seizures as requiring a warrant), this case has influences that include, but are certainly not limited to, real-time or near real-time tracking. This comprises not only cell phones, but any devices connected to wireless networks such as cellular or satellite (read: On-Star, XM radio [vehicular, portable, or whatnot], etc.).

    Warrants are required for police to use tracking devices or acquire phone records. Personally, I'd like to see them rule third-party tracking requires warrants as well.
     
  11. xX_Jack_Carver_Xx

    xX_Jack_Carver_Xx 2[H]4U

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    Ignorance of Freedom, Privacy is sickening.

    4th amendment ... 'Effects'

    That is all. Move along, learn how to fill out requests for a warrant, lazy.
     
  12. Olle P

    Olle P Limp Gawd

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    While I sincerely agree with all of the above, one has to realize that what the police did was essentially to ask: "Which persons were present at/near the crime scenes (when the crimes were committed)?".
    One can expect many of those to be wittnesses, victims or perpetrators, all relevant to the investigation. I don't see why the police should need a warrant to investigate (who was present at) the crime scenes, which is essentially what this specific case is about.
    Those that were present at all crime scenes become suspects.
     
  13. BSmith

    BSmith [H]Lite

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    So, why is it okay for every company on the planet to extract information from your phone and use it, but it is not okay for the authorities to ask for it?

    I am of the mind, if you have a smart phone, then you have given up any rights to privacy. So the authorities take it and if there is nothing incriminating then you are good to go. If there is, then you get what you deserve.

    Granted, that is a gross simplification, but what I read here seems to scream double standards, or some crazy level of denial about information on your phone not being available to any number of companies.

    If you were at the scene of a crime, then you are a suspect, or possibly a witness. Your phone may have captured something you were unaware of of as you have no idea when the mic or camera could be operated outside of your control. The police need no warrant to gather information from you. They should not need it to gather what is already being gathered anyway from your phone.
     
  14. PhaseII

    PhaseII [H]Lite

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    But what if no crime is committed? Should the authorities have the power to demand this? Because this case obviously involves an investigation of the actual crime scene, providing appropriate probable cause for court approval should not be a problem. But what if the situation raised only reasonable suspicion (which is distinct from probable cause), or no criminal suspicion at all? What if it's a police officer requesting the location information of his wife's whereabouts?

    A different kind of example: A robbery allegedly occurs at a business, and law enforcement wants to identify every person that was in or near that establishment at or near the time of the robbery. They ask a third party company that was tracking the people at that establishment for their tracking information. This company, initially unaware of the crime. is reluctant to hand over their data. Should they if the police have no warrant? Now factor in that their tracking system is security cameras they have monitoring the sidewalks outside their own business, which also captures the crime scene across the street. A warrant or court order is required in this case (or at least in most cases, depending on your state).

    Nowhere in the terms of service to which you agree is it stated you forfeit your 4th and 5th Amendment rights to protections from unreasonable searches or self incrimination.

    You have a frighteningly lax view on privacy, my friend.

    No, they don't need a warrant to get information from you. What they need is reasonable suspicion to detain you, your free-will cooperation to get answers from you, and if you refuse to talk, probable cause to arrest you and evidence to subsequently charge you.
     
  15. BSmith

    BSmith [H]Lite

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    So you believe Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and a host of others who gather information from your smart phone is not a violation of your privacy? Okey-dokey.

    Rhetorical, as I have heard all the rationalization a thousand times.

    Actually, the police can detain you for 24 hours without any cause whatsoever. And if you want to get into homeland security, they can bust down your door and take you away without any due process and lock you away for life without a trial.
     
  16. PhaseII

    PhaseII [H]Lite

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    The privacy I lose to those companies is the price I pay to own a cellular phone, which for me is a necessity. That does not mean I think my personal information should be handed over to anyone without a warrant or subpoena. I'm much more comfortable with our government's checks and balances than I am with allowing law enforcement to operate independently with their own whims and interpretations of the law.

    And I said the police need reasonable suspicion of your involvement or knowledge of a crime to detain you, not probable cause. If they didn't need a reason, they could theoretically pluck anyone off the street and hold them simply for laughs.
     
  17. BSmith

    BSmith [H]Lite

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    Yeah, all I see when I read your response is, "They can have whatever they want, as long as I get to keep my toys.".

    Where are the "checks and balances" as it pertains to homeland security? Where are the "checks and balances" preventing the squandering of billions of dollars based on lies. Want an example? $500M federal tax dollars are going to be spent building an island in Fort Worth, all under the lie that it is being done for flood control, when there are three independent studies sayting there is no flood problem to be controlled.

    Compounded with the fact Fort Worth had 28 inches of rain in a 6 week period, the most rainfall in any recored period of Fort Worth's history, and there was not flooding. Not even a hint of it. Another $500M in state tax dollars are also going toward that project.

    Who benefits? Check which legislators have a vested interest in the development. So much for "checks and balances" and that is just one of many, many things which should not be happening if there were checks and balances in place which actually worked.

    You seem to paint things very selectively as it fits your needs. You dont think there should be laws in place to protect your personal data, unless it involves law enforcement agencies, and not all of them. Just trying to get a handle on your opinions.
     
  18. PhaseII

    PhaseII [H]Lite

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    And all I see when I read your response is, "I have no logical or legal points to debate on the Supreme Court case at hand. All I want is to take this thread off topic just for the sake of arguing."

    I already made my point. I'm done.
     
  19. Olle P

    Olle P Limp Gawd

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    Apples and pears...
    My previous posting was all about this particular case at hand: I see no fault being done by the Police or phone provider.
    If it's less clear then of course the phone company should not provide this data without a court order.
    Such orders should be granted to investigate a known crime scene, or when there's suspision of a serious crime (like a body found and cause of death might be murder).
    It should not be used to look see if any crime can be found when nothing specific is expected.