Supreme Court Will Decide The Fate Of Your Digital Privacy

from Axios

The future of digital privacy is up for grabs today at the Supreme Court, as the justices hear arguments in a landmark case about whether police can track the location of a cell phone without a warrant.

Why it matters: The tech industry’s most powerful companies argue that if police can access this information without a warrant, hardly anything will ever be private again. The justices clearly share some of those concerns — but their personal understanding of modern technology is on a collision course with the court’s past rulings. 

The big picture: The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that you don’t have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” for data you voluntarily turn over to a third party.

  • In the ’70s, it said police could use a pen register — a device that records all numbers called from a particular telephone line — to log the numbers a suspect dialed from his landline phone, because he knew he was routing those calls through the phone company. A similar case allowed warrantless searches of bank records.
  • But here in 2017, almost everything we do involves transmitting data to a third party. As the ACLU put it in a brief to the high court, every day, millions of Americans disclose “their search queries to Google, their GPS coordinates and location history to Apple, Google, and Waze, their intimate photos to Apple or Flickr, and their medical queries to WebMD.”

More here.

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34 Responses to Supreme Court Will Decide The Fate Of Your Digital Privacy

  1. Meghan Healy December 7, 2017 at 9:23 pm #

    Privacy is a main concern in the case of whether or not police can track a cell phone without a warrant. The article states that, “the tech industry’s most powerful companies argue that if police can access this information without a warrant, hardly anything will ever be private again.” However, with the increasing presence of social media, we gave up our privacy when we first start posting to these platforms as early as elementary school. This breach of privacy should almost come as no surprise. Nowadays, privacy is slowing diminishing with the increasing prevalence of technology and social media. Twitter is a platform for people to give their followers updates on their daily activities. Someone that tweets about the exact location in which they are currently eating a burger should not be surprised that hardly anything will ever be private again. The factor that is suddenly causing people to be concerned with the things they do on their cell phone is the involvement of the police.
    This article describes a case in which a man named Timothy Carpenter was convicted of participating in robberies. Data from his cell phone providers showed that his phone pinged cell towers near sites of the robberies when they occurred. The ACLU said that the seizure of those cell phone records violated Carpenter’s Fourth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.
    Even though social media and other related technology is relatively new, police have been searching our phones to find evidence since the 1970s. In the 70s, police used a device called a pen register that could record all numbers called from a specific telephone line. This device was used to log the phone numbers that a suspect had called. A history of someone’s calls was not private information exclusively held by the user, since these calls are recorded by the phone company. Similarly, in 2017, what a user does on their phone can be recorded and accessed by the phone company. As the article states, “Users don’t own their cell-tower records; cell-phone companies do. And everyone who uses a cell phone knows about cell towers. So, cell-tower location records are a clean example of data turned over to a third party, and therefore aren’t entitled to any expectation of privacy.” What we do on our phones is not private information. Anyone with the capabilities to hack into a database can access the information record by cell towers. Nowadays, anyone can access another’s information, not just the police.
    Our smartphones record what we do, such as watch a video, read a news story, or text or call a friend. These records are then sent to third party sites. This is how ads are created to target the user. As the article states, there is nothing that certain companies, especially our cell phone carriers do not know about us.
    In a hypothetical situation, if someone posts on a social media account something that would lead another person to believe that the person was involved in a crime, would the police need a warrant to search the suspect’s phone for evidence? If the post is public knowledge, is a warrant necessary? In 2014, the court ruled that police need a warrant to physically search someone’s cell phone. Our phones store a lot of information. If certain information is incriminating, then the police should be able to access it.

  2. Rebecca Hu December 8, 2017 at 2:40 pm #

    Privacy is now becoming a major concern since literally everything are connected together with the internet. Nothing is really kept private and safe once it is connected to the internet. The involvement of technology totally changed the lifestyle we live. Everything we searched and looked through there will be a copy of that information stored somewhere in the world. We never really realize what these information reveal until recent cases.
    With the development of social media and the way, we interact, with other people and society. To a certain extent, we have already given up some degree of privacy. The social media posts we made available to the public may be a good tool for marketing or sharing information to friends but these are available to everyone in the world. We reveal a lot about ourselves to the public without knowing the consequences of revealing this information.
    Just as recently discussed the controversial issue regarding workplace privacy. These data information can help our justice department to collect necessary information as evidence. How can a collection of personal data be justified and used? The government may have to monitor the public in the name of homeland security. What is really the difference between democracy and communism if both of the systems choose to closely monitor every citizen closely?
    Smartphone and computer device reveals a lot about a person. It reveals the way how the individual approach to different things as well as personal information. If the justice department can search through personal information without a justifiable reason for a warrant. Then it is the same as saying that they can search for anything if they wish. Should we choose justice at all cost?
    This reminds of the case between Apple and FBI, where FBI require Apple to create a system for FBI to get through the IOS system for investigation purposes. Who can regulate how the government will use the system or information? The general public never really know what the government is doing unless they are revealed to the world. The government can say something and do something else. We have given the power of decision to these officials through the election.
    Technology and privacy combination is really a gray area. We are all new to these aspects of technology because we are just testing out the limitations of technology. Twenty years ago, not everyone owns computers or small mobile devices. Internet was not fast, it did not connect everyone around the world in seconds. It is hard to decide what is right or wrong regarding technology and privacy because we are still testing them as well. We may never keep up with the speed of technology innovation because everyday improvements are made.

  3. Valerie Dorsett December 8, 2017 at 4:51 pm #

    Everyone enjoys having their own time of privacy, whether it is in the real world or online. In the real world anyone could just go home and relax knowing that they are alone and no one can bother them. However, online anyone could be watching what you do at any time. This has become a big issue that we have to deal with today. Even though someone may have their profile as private that does not mean that people cannot search you and find what you have been posting. This raises many question about online privacy. Some say that since you post on social media you have given up a percentage of your privacy. However, now the Supreme Court will finally weigh in on the situation.
    The Supreme Court stated that you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy for the data that you allow any third party user to access. In the year 2017 regulating the privacy services for the digital age has gotten difficult. Almost every website that we use forces people to accept third party access in order to use their website. The article adds that the, “ACLU put it in a brief to the high court, every day, millions of Americans disclose ‘their search queries to Google, their GPS coordinates and location history to Apple, Google, and Waze, their intimate photos to Apple or Flickr, and their medical queries to WebMD,”’ which allows many of these applications to track what people are searching at any time. This has just become to norm in society because as of now, there is no other way to get around the system.
    What I found out that was interesting is that the Supreme Court decided that Cell-tower records are very similar to bank records and pen registers from the ’70s. This is able to occur because people do not own the cell phone towers, the cell phone companies do, which is why they are able to access these records without having a record. This is another type of third party because it collects data from individuals smart devices as long as they are connected to a cell phone company. Since these situations have arose many digital companies are speaking up on the subject. Google, Microsoft, Apple, and many more are not defying the government adding their incentive saying that the courts precedents should not govern modern technology. It seems more upsetting to people that their data could be opened up by the government at any time without a warrant.
    Everyone wants to find a solution to this issue that will not just go away overnight. No matter if you are conservative or liberal, both parties show some concern about these digital privacy regulations. One of the Supreme court justices said that, “the court should reevaluate its so-called third-party doctrine, because it’s ‘ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks,”’ which is completely true. Just to sign up for a silly website you may have to agree to give away more of your private information than you would have originally wanted to in the beginning. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will realize that all of these third-party applications take too much personal information for people and decide to do something about it to protect many citizens. Posting a photo online is one thing, but allowing a website to track your location and personal information is another, which is too far in my opinion.

  4. Vincent Scorese December 8, 2017 at 6:19 pm #

    This is a very important case in the history of the united states because of how the ever-growing technology grown in the country this affects not only us now but for the rest of our futures. The fact that the law and the technology advancement do not add up is why the law needs to be look at and in some case, be revised to better clarify the law and what is illegal or legal. The fact that almost everything we do in this day and age is sent to a third-party company makes it so that the law from the 1970s is kind of outdated concerning the fact that back then not very much was sent to third parties because the internet or stuff around it didn’t even exist at the time. It puts us at very much invasion risk as far as privacy is concerned because in the law anything sent to a third parity isn’t considered private by the law. This would give police access to this information and to have that ability without a warrant is not very good for most people. To obtain a warrant to look at something or obtain information, it has to show probable cause and to be just, without the need for a warrant a police officer or others for that matter can access your location at any given time for any given reason and that’s not the American way quite frankly. We have our great leaders die for freedom and say things in regards to “Give me liberty or give me death.” We still have to maintain our liberties and rights to our own freedoms and liberties away from our government because that is embedded in our American code. If I wanted to go pick up and leave to Florida for a week or go out camping for a week in Pennsylvania, that is not the governments business and it should not be permitted to access this time of sensitive information without a warrant. Also, if the information is very accessible that means that mainly anyone can grab at it and that also leaves people more vulnerable to things involving criminals knowing where you are as well and doing the wrong things with that information. Also, as we saw with Equifax, if the governing services harboring this sensitive information gets breached, they could take the information and now use it for their own purposes. Some things are better left unknown and certain liberties like freedom to operate without the government just spying on everything you do is one of them. At least it needs to be accessed with a warrant to show its going after people with a just cause and offers some protection for those people.

  5. Jerry Wu January 22, 2018 at 10:05 pm #

    Since most things these days are now connected by technology and/or the internet. Once someone has access to one of these things, no one is really safe, and not a single piece of information is kept private. Because of this, we can conclude that technology has totally changed the way each and every individuals live their lives. As the years have passed, technology has advanced more and more, and so has social media. This may be an excellent way for sharing important information, but it has also caused people to be able to interact with others, with friends, family, and even others that we do not even know. Because of this, we have already given up our privacy, which can possibly lead to harassment, cyber bullying, and other heinous crimes.
    What I found interesting about Supreme Court is that they will ultimately decide the fate of our digital privacy, which is an argument about whether police can track the location of a cell phone without a warrant. If this is the case, privacy will soon cease to exist.
    Finding a solution to this issue is not something that will happen overnight, or even a week or a month. No matter how much concern for this issue a single person has for this matter, technology will still make rapid advancements. It has become a matter of how far people will go to steal personal information of others, and stopping internet crime will only become tougher as technology continues to blossom.

  6. Mark Marino January 24, 2018 at 8:44 pm #

    In today’s world, nothing can be untraceable. From when you get up in the morning to when you go to sleep at night, literally every stop along the way is being traced. From social media to mapping applications, third parties can track where you are, see what you purchase, and the people you interact with. Going to the local bagel shop to get coffee with a friend? Not only are location services following you, the app for which you pay for the item is traceable to you and the exact store for which you purchased the items. Most people are aware of this ability to not only have third party corporations monitor your activity but good old Uncle Sam.
    The whole argument of digital privacy can be traced back all the way to the early 2000s where the World Wide Web saw an exponential increase in the creation of social media platforms such as MySpace and “The Facebook”. Many chose to ignore the fact that these websites were collecting personal information to sell to bigger corporations to target their product specifically. What age, gender, race, country, state, were clicking on their advertisement? All of this data collection now has been multiplied 10-fold. Not only is one website tracking, holding, and evaluating your data but nearly all the websites we go daily has some form of traffic monitoring. In turn, collaboratively, these now corporations are formulating profiles for each person. How does an advertisement for an Amazon product that I researched 5 days ago pop up on my Twitter feed? This is because all web traffic by me personally is traced, analyzed and put into action in the form of an ad. These are the types of surveillance and data collection that Is quite scary in my opinion.
    When a person first signs up to become a cell-phone user, they consent to many terms and agreements that many do not even bother to read as it takes way too long. Within those agreements, many of them contain the idea that we give up our rights stated in the Fourth Amendment which protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. Also, many give up their rights to personal property as everything we search online through mobile or WiFi, it must go through servers, cell towers, satellites that do not even belong to us, but belongs to the cell phone companies. Whether you have an Apple, Android, or flip phone device, everyone is susceptible to give up their basic rights and allow your own personal data to be floating around the interweb going through all other countries. When a text message is sent, the message is encrypted, then sent in a bunch of pieces to the nearest cell tower that our phones are connected to. Next, it will go through fiber optic wires which can ping another cell tower in the United States or goes internationally. Here is where it gets interesting. If that message goes internationally, then pings back in to the United States, the government has the right to view that material as it is marked as international.
    Out of the parties between the consumer, the cell service provider, and the government, the government’s power blows the other 2 parties out of the water. They can subpoena a company to give up phone records of a suspect without he or she even knowing of the matter. In the case outlined in the article, a man was accused of robbery and the authorities were able to use his location using the cell phone towers to pinpoint him to the crime scene. The robber’s counter argument was that the government infringed on his rights lined out in the Fourth Amendment. This is not the case as he agreed to disclose his personal information when he signed with the provider, waiving certain rights.
    A brief hiccup so to say is what happened in San Bernadino California terrorists attack in 2015. In this case which reached the national spotlight, two terror suspects conducted an attack killing over a dozen people. To get more information, the FBI and government officials wanted access to the terrorists’ Apple device. When the authorities approached Apple, they declined to unlock the device in an order to protect that person’s privacy. Although they were clearly guilty in the eyes of many, the law states “innocent until proven guilty” therefore, unlocking the terrorists’ device would have been no different if Apple unlocked anybody else’s device. In this controversial case, Apple and the government went back and fourth over the topic matter for which the government gained their own access. This yet again proves how much power the authority the government has over essentially the world. Apple received much scrutiny from Americans after this situation, nonetheless, Apple still reports huge profit gains every quarter.
    Due to the up rise of technology and “digital privacy” has risen tremendously over the past 20 years, the government is well under prepared for this boom. Many arguments over the privacy of someone is becoming not so mainstream anymore. The constitution was made centuries ago, not nearly to what it needs to be today with the uprising of technology. Net neutrality has become a large topic of interest. Net neutrality means that what many television providers do now by providing “packages” i.e. sports, entertainment, movies, etc. will be implemented into the world of mobile web surfing. An example would be if I use Netflix, ESPN, and Amazon on a daily basis, that means I would have to get an entertainment, sports, and shopping package just so I am able to have access to those sites.

    • Daniel Kim February 1, 2018 at 11:00 pm #

      I concur that privacy is no longer possible as technology continues to push forward. In my view, I find it surprising how easily people are willing to allow tech companies such as Facebook and Google to access their private information. These corporations use these personal data to customize advertisements tailored to each individual. This quiet transformation was happening under our noses and we allowed this to happen. Because of this, these tech giants are becoming our new social reality. Whenever we go online, Google most likely pops up as our first homepage. Another common digital name is Facebook. On the social media website, we can put our pictures and send messages to friends halfway around the world. Not only that, we can post videos and news articles to our friends. However, instead of connecting people, Facebook became a war of ideologies with the recent presidential election. If one thing is certain, tech giants such as Facebook and Google need stricter governmental regulations. If anyone is unconvinced, a recent Verge article reports from a Bloomberg article that that Google was able to save “$3.7 billion by moving 16 billion euros between Ireland, the Netherlands, and Bermuda using infamous legal loopholes that allow it to skirt high tax responsibilities overseas.” Sadly, the United States government does not enforce any measures against Google because the company is simply too vital for the nation’s economy.
      According to CNN Money in 2017, the top five tech companies’ total value was more than $3 trillion. Because these companies play huge roles in the U.S. economy, they can arguably get away with many questionable activities such as placing their money offshore to escape taxation. However, digital privacy is one topic that did not receive many headlines until former NSA analyst, Edward Snowden, became a whistleblower who uncovered NSA’s spying capabilities on ordinary Americans, which arguably violates people’s due process under the 4th amendment. After the headlines, many people started talking about digital privacy, and the U.S. Supreme Court now has a huge role to play in this sensitive topic. Especially with the current trial case, the Supreme Court must decide the limit of power of authorities such as law enforcement have, regarding with digital data. The ruling will have significant implications on digital privacy, and if we can have at least some privacy in this digital world, we are now living in.

  7. Andrew Kuttin January 26, 2018 at 2:46 am #

    The integration of our lives with technology is making privacy increasingly hard to ensure. In this technological information age there is a constant societal pressure to share your life with the world across multiple social media platforms. Whether we spread our information publicly or not, our mobile devices have come to hold enough information on us to detail every aspect of our lives. This type of personal integration is a new phenomenon that was unheard of a mere decade ago. As a result, just like with any societal change there are new legal questions that go along with it. In this case involving a convicted perpetrator of a robbery who was brought to justice partially with the unwarranted collection and use of his phone data, the issue at hand is whether police need to obtain a warrant in order to track the position of a phone. The potential ramifications that will come as a result of whatever precedent is set by the decision are endless. If the Supreme Court rules that police are constitutionally able to obtain this information without a warrant the decision will be used as justification to further chip away at the privacy guaranteed over our most personal records and devices. I believe that the most important issue at play is the “third party doctrine” which states that “you don’t have a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ for data you voluntarily turn over to a third party”. The article mentions that Justice Sotomayor believes the court should reevaluate this doctrine, indicating that a revised position will be a part of the future ruling on this case.
    It was the decision in the 1979 Supreme Court case Smith vs Maryland that created this “third party doctrine. In it, the court decided that the police were within their rights to create a pen register of all the numbers dialed from Mr. Smith’s office without a warrant to do so. This doctrine is outdated in today’s world where phones are far more integrated in our private lives than they were in the late 70s. Any reevaluation of it now should be based on the understanding that it is almost impossible not to surrender our information to third party sources. Every action we take on our phones from submitting a google search to viewing a picture registers a record that is sent to a third party according to the article posted. If the court upholds the doctrine it will give police the right to construct a detailed timeline of our daily personal lives without a warrant detailing their reason for needing to do so. I find this incredibly troubling as someone who values personal privacy. An article from The Atlantic entitled “What You Need to Know about the Third Party Doctrine” cites the 2012 decision in United States vs Jones as the most relevant recent legal precedent regarding the issue of the doctrine. The case does not address the issue of a third party, but it did declare that the warrantless GPS tracking of a vehicle was a violation of the fourth amendment. The decision gives indication that the court at least recognizes the warrantless tracking of location is unconstitutional, which is one of the central issues of the case in question. Unfortunately, it does not give a revised view of the “third party doctrine”, which remains to be disclosed in June when this case is set to be resolved. If I were a justice on the court, I would be sympathetic to the role as a necessity that third parties play in the maintenance of our data.

  8. marcello bertuzzelli January 26, 2018 at 12:48 pm #

    The argument made in this article is one of privacy for the common citizen as police try to go more in depth of technological advances made daily while we as a society move forward in time. No, police are not trying to stalk the world, only their criminals. However, that does not mean there is no one watching what we do. Having access to information like this may help in certain aspects of life but takes away more than it gives; personal sense of freedom promised by the United States. The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that you do not have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” for data you voluntarily turn over to a third party. Which in a sense, means you should have no reasonable expectation for privacy at all. If you go onto a smartphone, which is the only thing anyone owns in the present day, it is impossible to use it, to download anything, or even access certain pages without a pop-up asking you to share your location. The worst part is that this is going on now, while this ruling of “reasonable expectation” was made long before there were things like smartphones and GPS. I support the opinion of Justice Sonya Sotomayor to have the Supreme Court reevaluate its so-called third-party doctrine. She states that it is “ill-suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks.” Again, I have to reiterate how true this is because of the fact that modern technology forces us to share personal information online as if we want the world to know, and in a world where so many people are tech savvy it is scary to know that people are watching you and monitoring the things you do. It is especially scary when you hear stories on the news all the time about hackers and online complications and updating software. What does all of this nonsense mean? The more we ask ourselves, the more they know.

  9. Nicholas DiBari January 26, 2018 at 1:14 pm #

    “Big Brother is always watching” was a phrase created by George Orwell in his novel Nineteen Eight Four and was commonly used during the Cold War between the U.S.S.R. and the United States in between the late 1940’s and early 1990’s. The Soviets used Orwell’s phrase as a propaganda piece against the United States, claiming that the United States’ government invaded the privacy of its citizens ( Despite the source material, Orwell’s book, having been a work a fiction, the notion of a constantly watching government in the United States is growing closer to a total reality.

    Sam Baker’s article, Supreme Court Will Decide the Fate of your Digital Privacy, speaks to the constitutional issue of whether or not the police can track an individual’s location using their cell phone without a warrant having been issued. The article mentions that the ACLU makes the claim that the seizure of records in regards to the suspect’s whereabouts using the nearby cell towers was a breach of the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights. Court cases aside, already, third parties, such as Google and Facebook to name a few, keep highly detailed records of who we are and what we are doing online. The question is, is this sort of omnipresence of data collecting entities an invasion of our privacy?

    All of this said, I know, for one, that I was never truly alarmed by the fact that third parties such as Google were able to view my information. In this instance, however, ignorance was bliss. Over the recent winter break, I decided to get a certification in Google Analytics; a tool used by marketers to determine what marketing campaigns were most effective in a given location/through a given medium. The course was comprised of numerous videos describing the functionality and how to use the service. As the videos progressed and I learned more about the nuances of the tool and how it worked, a sort of unease set in. I had no idea the extent with which someone who had access to a site’s Analytics profile could view what page visitors were up to. Geographic location (at an absurd level of granularity), recent searches, time on page, and even the likes and dislikes of users on a given IP address can be viewed by Google Analytics. The implications of this sort of tracking technology became very apparent to me after, first hand, being able to access that sort of information (albeit for sample, fabricated people for the time being, but the point still stands).

  10. Antonio Chirichiello January 26, 2018 at 5:39 pm #

    Are our rights being slowly taken away? Does a Law two and a quarter centuries ago still uphold? What is constitutional and what is not? Has the information age challenge our constitutional rights? There are so many questions in a technologically advanced society, which pertains to our rights as American citizens. The more advances in technology, the easier it is for someone other than me and you to obtain public or even personal information. According to the article, the third party doctrine allows the government or any third party to look at a person’s digital information. This doctrine forces every American to willfully waive their fourth amendment right.

    The fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizes, has been a major factor regarding our freedoms. As a citizen of the land of the free, the amendment ensures us; the right to privacy. One of the few laws that shape and define, the freedoms that United States Of America entitles its citizens. But, the article also states that “the supreme court has ruled in the past that you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy for data you voluntarily turn over to a third party.” The agreement that allows these third parties to collect our digital data is called disclosure statement.

    A disclosure statement is a legal agreement created by the seller party, which carefully outlines the terms and conditions, the consumer party has to agree upon before we can use their products. If we disagree to the terms of the agreement then, we are restricted from using certain feature of the product. We are so eager to own the newest and most advance technology that is available, but neglect the agreement of disclosure. I feel the majority of people fail to read all the terms and conditions because, it is too much to read and they feel that they are facing no risk. A disclosure statement that has been created for various advanced technology that is built for: downloadable applications, operating systems installation, updates, and service provider’s internet and phone services. Agreeing to the terms and conditions of the disclosure statement, we have already forfeited our right to privacy.

    As technology continues to advance at an exponential rate, to accommodate our everyday lives, I believe the results will be detrimental rather than beneficial. I was unaware until a year ago that, we the people have been agreeing to compromise our privacy rights, in exchange for better technology. I do not believe that those terms are a fair trade, in my opinion, we are sacrificing our 4th amendment right, for a smart phone. People who own technology, that have capabilities to access the World Wide Web through: smartphones, tablets, and laptops, they have already legally forfeited their rights of privacy.

    In conclusion, it is unlikely that anyone would sign contract to: finance a car, take out a mortgage on a house, or own a business before they read the terms and conditions, but we fail to read the disclosure statements. I believe that reason may be that, we do not assume that there is any risk when agreeing to the disclosure. In fact it is the opposite, we are willfully waiving our fourth amendment right of the constitution. If we want to use any advanced technology with a disclosure attached to it, then we have no choice to expect our privacy to be revoked. So, as time passes, I believe we need to reassess the third party doctrine, because it is conflict with our rights and there is nothing, we can do about it. If they can make you waive one of your constitutional rights, what is going to stop them from having us waive more of our rights?

  11. Jacob Abel January 26, 2018 at 6:23 pm #

    My reaction after reading this article was that of great concern for everyone that is living in the modern technological age. Given that much of the case law that courts rely on is so old it is a great worry to me that the courts may make a decision that may appear to violate our rights. While I was aware that we share almost everything we do with our service providers as well as third parties, it is still concerning that a company such as Google or Apple may know more about us then some of our closest friends. The more technology advances the more questions are going to arise as to how the rights given to every American in the Constitution may come into conflict with the rapid advance of technology.
    While the article outlines other cases in the past with similar consequences, they are all still, as many of the tech giants stated, in the analog age and may not stand up in the modern digital age. I share the fear of these companies that government could use this data to spy on large amounts of Americans. It does not seem as though most Americans truly understand the scope in which are lives are tracked and recorded. The battle between companies and the government over privacy has to be settled in the courts because it has such broad implications. This issue came up after the San Bernardino terrorist attack in which Apple refused to give the FBI access to one of the attackers phone.
    I would also have to agree with Justice Sotomayor in that it is time to have a case come before the Supreme court regarding the mass collection of data by third party companies and what the procedures might be for law enforcement if they want to access that information. While companies own the infrastructure that our date passes through, there is an argument to be had as to whether or not police should be able to access that information without a warrant. If most Americans were given more information regarding the process of data collection there would probably be more of an outcry about having more transparency with what is done with our data. Education on this topic would also make it more important to elected officials and make Congress more responsive to what most Americans want.

  12. Sebastien Jose Fortes January 26, 2018 at 6:42 pm #

    The First Amendment to the Constitution allows citizens the right to a freedom of religion, assembly, speech, and press. The Fourth Amendment gives citizens the right to security in their homes, and the protection from search and seizure by police, save for those with warrants. Both amendments should apply not only to one’s house, but to their search history and Internet usage.

    This article states that the Supreme Court has been in talks to allow police access to sensitive parts of the Internet. The judicial department believes that users do not own the information they entrust to an online third party. Service providers disagree.

    I have believed, since 2013, that anyone who is not a criminal should have nothing to worry about in terms of privacy. If, for example, someone of the age of majority posted pornography to Dropbox and the government found it, it wouldn’t necessarily be incriminating. These people would essentially have nothing to hide—just material they wouldn’t want certain people to see.

    However, I believe that people should still have a right to privacy even if they share information with a third party. Government workers should not be trusted on account of their position. A corrupt surveillance agent could find the aforementioned material and make it public, like in a certain iCloud breach in 2014. The same agent could steal credit card information and exploit other people’s accounts, like in the Equifax breach in 2017.

    The Fourth Amendment was written at a time before this level of trust could have been established. I do agree that the Constitution should be upheld as it is, but should be revised to accurately reflect changes in society. For example, its 18th century language can be updated to ensure that it is more readily accessible for those who don’t fully understand it.

    The First Amendment allows the freedom to speak one’s mind without legal consequences, and is already known to extend to the Internet on sites like LiveLeak or 4chan. The Fourth, however, at most ambiguously protects bank accounts, phone services, or GPS routes, each of which are very sensitive banks of information. Without a more specific extension of “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”, our freedoms are placed in a dangerous position.

  13. Nathaniel Valyo January 26, 2018 at 7:20 pm #

    I agree with Timothy Carpenter and the ACLU’s defense in this landmark case. It seems rather obvious to me that the police should be required to obtain a warrant for searching a suspect’s phone, regardless of the suspect willingly or unwillingly providing their information to third party servers. But, if you include that aspect of the case, it should seem even more obvious since quite literally everyone gives up their information to third party servers today.

    The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution prevents citizens from unreasonable seizures and searches, and the defense is arguing that Mr. Carpenter’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated in his arrest. It is seemingly unfair to assume that a cell phone user would knowingly give up all of his or her information to a third party user through what Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor calls “mundane tasks,” which are everyday activities a person uses their cell phone for, like checking their email or searching for nearby restaurants. I do not think Americans are fully aware of how much information they relinquish to third party users, but regardless; a person’s right to privacy is of utmost important.

    It is also alarming how big tech companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft have access to every little detail of our lives, simply because we rely on our cell phones for everything. So, while the police seem unreasonable in requesting permission to search through a suspect’s phone by the third-party ruling without a warrant, the big tech companies are not exactly perfect, either, since they have an innumerable amount of data on us.

    Another interest aspect of the case is the fact that both a liberal justice like Sotomayor and a conservative justice like Samuel Alito have the same frame of mind on the issue, which is that the legislation guiding this case is outdated and should not be applied to modern technology. This shows us that this issue does not have to be politicized or tipped in favor for any political party; it is a case that affects all people, regardless of party beliefs. Instead, a decision on this landmark case must be made through either stare decisis or through a new piece of legislation. Along with the rapid advancement of technology comes the need for a rapidly advancing court system as well.

    • Don R January 26, 2018 at 8:53 pm #

      I believe the companies have clean hands in these cases. The hands that are dirty are the citizens of the United States. We live in a post-privacy era; there is no such thing as a “personal life” anymore. We no longer have a private life, nor the expectation of one. Once you have clicked those unread terms and conditions, you have signed your information to be used those parties see fit. This is not the fault of the corporations, and there was no force applied to the individual to accept those terms. There was no force by any company to have the user sign up and give away their information. It was all a willing exchange of information that the consumer was gleeful to jump on the product given to them. The consumer is outraged after they leaped without having the wherewithal to see the what they were leaping on. The outrage should not be on the corporations but instead on ourselves. We made corporations billions of dollars by giving away our information for free. In fact, we sometimes paid them to have our data. We gleefully signed in and typed our intimate secrets foolishly thinking that none shall see it. We have elected representatives that do not make privacy an issue, and we never will. The Sheriff is an elected position, as are some judges, and I have yet to see one win by protecting the criminals’ freedom of privacy. Admitting one is powerless over something is the first step towards a solution. Let us acknowledge that we have only ourselves to blame for the erosion of the fourth amendment because we decided to compromise privacy in the face of threats. It can be rightly argued that giving up our private information was one of the gravest misgivings of the Western world and that hindsight is indeed twenty-twenty. But there is no reason to weep for something has been dead since we killed it ourselves. I wish we could go back and make our personal and private lives a luxury for everyone in 2018 to enjoy, but sadly there is no possibility of doing so. We instead must address our guilt, and all delete our Instagrams, Snapchats, and Facebooks. But we will never do that in mass, and with the existence of data collection as a lucrative industry, we can never hope to gain any luxury of privacy ever again. We are addicted to attention and have become a culture of narcissists craving for the admiration from our electronic peers the data mines that we signed up for. Privacy is dead, and we are its murders. The only ones guilty in this case are the American people for making data collection on a billion dollar industry.

  14. Gabrielle Pietanza February 1, 2018 at 11:23 am #

    In this day and age almost everything we do finds its way to the internet. With that said, privacy is become a growing concern. Once something is on the internet it can never fully be erased. Everything we have ever searched, our photos, online shopping, phone calls, emails, information entered in a calendar, bank accounts, and locations are all transmitted using a third party. The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that you give up your “reasonable expectation of privacy” for data of which you voluntarily turn over to a third party. This is extremely concerning to me and individuals everywhere. We depend on digital platforms in almost all aspects of life so I find in unjust that privacy is seized in this way. With just a few companies such as Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, a profile can be created for each individual with extreme accuracy which is both troublesome and dangerous.
    Social media has opened a new door unleashing a new slew of concerns; however since the 1970s police have been searching our telephones using a device called the pen register which could record the numbers called from a specific telephone line. This mind you is forty years ago, imagine what the telephone companies and government are capable of now. Technology has and continues to advance each day and there are countless benefits this technology has awarded us with. With great reward however there have been problems. The largest of which is the fact that each and every action completed on any kind of technological device is recorded and remembered and is not guaranteed to be private.
    Once you check the box agreeing to the terms and conditions of the product or software you sign away a great deal of privacy. Only a handful of individuals however actually read these terms as they seem infinite and confusing. If we do not check this box we are unable to use the product to its full capacity or sometimes at all. By failing to read the disclosure statements we do not understand the rights we are forfeiting to their full extent.
    Even individuals who do not have personal social media accounts still carry this digital footprint. Many believe Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and more are the issue but that is just the beginning. Google searches are remembered, telephone locations are tracked, and personal pictures are uploaded. Privacy is quickly disappearing and there is little 21st century individuals can do to protect themselves while still living a modern life.
    Even if law enforcement only focuses on information regarding crime or illegal activity they naturally have access and are required to see the information of innocent individuals as well. The standard we hold for privacy is quickly changing and once this standard is created the government’s power and reach will only grow.

  15. Nicholas DiBari February 1, 2018 at 2:35 pm #

    “Big Brother is always watching” was a phrase created by George Orwell in his novel Nineteen Eight Four and was commonly used during the Cold War between the U.S.S.R. and the United States in between the late 1940’s and early 1990’s. The Soviets used Orwell’s phrase as a propaganda piece against the United States, claiming that the United States’ government invaded the privacy of its citizens ( Despite the source material, Orwell’s book, having been a work a fiction, the notion of a constantly watching government in the United States is growing closer to a total reality.

    Sam Baker’s article, Supreme Court Will Decide the Fate of your Digital Privacy, speaks to the constitutional issue of whether or not the police can track an individual’s location using their cell phone without a warrant having been issued. The article mentions that the ACLU makes the claim that the seizure of records in regards to the suspect’s whereabouts using the nearby cell towers was a breach of the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights. Court cases aside, already, third parties, such as Google and Facebook to name a few, keep highly detailed records of who we are and what we are doing online. The question is, is this sort of omnipresence of data collecting entities an invasion of our privacy?

    All of this said, I know, for one, that I was never truly alarmed by the fact that third parties such as Google were able to view my information. In this instance, however, ignorance was bliss. Over the recent winter break, I decided to get a certification in Google Analytics; a tool used by marketers to determine what marketing campaigns were most effective in a given location/through a given medium. The course was comprised of numerous videos describing the functionality and how to use the service. As the videos progressed and I learned more about the nuances of the tool and how it worked, a sort of unease set in. I had no idea the extent with which someone who had access to a site’s Analytics profile could view what page visitors were up to. Geographic location (at an absurd level of granularity), recent searches, time on page, and even the likes and dislikes of users on a given IP address can be viewed by Google Analytics. The implications of this sort of tracking technology became very apparent to me after, first hand, being able to access that sort of information (albeit for sample, fabricated people for the time being, but the point still stands).

  16. Samuel Kozlov February 2, 2018 at 9:16 am #

    It should be without question that anybody who uses a cellphone or laptop is entitled to some sort of privacy when utilizing these devices. That is, these devices that can host vast swaths of data should not be subject to searches without warrants for unsuspecting users. Or should they? In general, if police can access any information they desire through reaching out to third parties, how much privacy do us as citizens really have? Even through the most mundane tasks that we do on our cellphones or laptops, we are almost always giving up our information to third parties, and much of the time without realizing it. This can present a major issue based on the question, are we really entitled to full privacy when using these devices?

    On the other hand, how can we expect to maintain full privacy when accessing devices that hold as much data as laptops and cellphones? Perhaps, losing a bit of privacy is the price we must pay in order to use our much-needed electronic devices. For example, in the article the author states, “The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that you don’t have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” for data you voluntarily turn over to a third party.” This quote essentially shuts the argument down that phone and laptop users should expect privacy when utilizing these devices. In a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected and globalized it seems like too much to ask for for complete privacy.

    In reference to the Justice Department’s case, which states that users don’t own their own cell-tower records, and therefore these records being submitted to a third party is normal and should not come with any expectation of privacy, the justice department has a point. As data users, we voluntarily submit our privacy rights to third parties in order to enjoy the luxury of using these devices. It should not be of any surprise to people that they are going to be susceptible to data searches from police and third parties, as this data is practically out in the open. Ben Franklin’s famously stated quote still rings true today, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Unfortunately, in a globalized world we as citizens have made the ultimate decision to leave ourselves vulnerable to just about anybody who wants to access our data. It is the choice we made as a result of our lack of foresight, and it seems that we are now starting to pay for it.

  17. Brian Graziano February 2, 2018 at 1:15 pm #

    In the real world, privacy is very important to one’s personal self. Some value privacy more than others, but in the end, privacy is what makes humans feel secure. For example, I value my own personal privacy because it shows a sign of respect toward myself. With the boom of technology at one’s fingertips, the way people live their lives is at a much better convenience. But on the other hand, technology does pose concerns as an invasion of privacy. With the technological advancements in today’s day and age (location tracking, lack of internet securities) some people may agree that they really don’t feel a strong sense of privacy. In relation to the article, I believe law enforcement shall only have the right to concern themselves with ones privacy if and only if the person is a threat to themselves or others. Their job is to make everyone safe, not to concern themselves with people’s privacy. By all means if they have digital evidence of a crime about to take place, it is in their best interest to prevent that, rightfully so. There clearly needs to be a set of boundaries between law enforcement to the privacy of the citizens. The bottom line is digital privacy do make our lives a lot more public, and it’s a bit of a worry to many people who want to feel safe, secure and comfortable. Remember, everyone has a right to their own privacy!

  18. Mary Margaret Miller February 2, 2018 at 1:39 pm #

    As mentioned in another article titled: “In Carpenter Case, Justice Sotomayor Tries to Picture the Smartphone Future,” Judge Sotomayor is trying to ensure the public that their digital rights will be protected, and that warrants must be issued in order to search a person’s device. The current claim being made by the court states that since we use a third party as a cell service, the police are entitled to invade your privacy without a warrant. To ban these practices from happening, lawmakers are trying to ratify the Fourth Amendment to further protect the digital privacy of all individuals.

    According to the ACLU, cell towers and the third party cell service companies are to blame for the heinous searches and seizures of personal information that is being tracked through a person’s smartphone. We unknowingly give all of our personal information to the third part cell towers, which then no longer belongs to us, and the police can secretly track us without a warrant and without our consent.
    Another example is a case that was brought up between Target and a 16 year old girl’s father. An angered father went into Target after his 16 year old daughter kept receiving coupons for baby formula, cribs, and other infant products. Due to her purchase of a pregnancy test, Target tracked her transaction history and assumed that if she were purchasing a pregnancy test, she would eventually be in need of baby products; thus they sent her the coupons. Target apologized repeatedly for the incident, and the angered father apologized for not knowing his daughter was expecting. Nowadays, companies are able to obtain more and more personal information about people just by their guest accounts with popular retailers. “Also linked to your Guest ID is demographic information like your age, whether you are married and have kids, which part of town you live in, how long it takes you to drive to the store, your estimated salary, whether you’ve moved recently, what credit cards you carry in your wallet and what Web sites you visit. Target can buy data about your ethnicity, job history, the magazines you read, if you’ve ever declared bankruptcy or got divorced, the year you bought (or lost) your house, where you went to college, what kinds of topics you talk about online, whether you prefer certain brands of coffee, paper towels, cereal or applesauce, your political leanings, reading habits, charitable giving and the number of cars you own” (Pole, 2012). By obtaining this amount of personal information about an individual, many feel that their rights are being exploited as companies are able to buy information about their customers without the customer’s consent. This form of marketing is the direction companies are going towards so they can determine what coupons to send their consumers to keep them returning to their stores. Retailers know that the more coupons they send, the more likely people are to buy more products from their stores, and the best way to make a greater profit is to increase the number of regular shoppers.
    The digital age has changed the way companies operate, yet consumers must have their rights protected. Companies should not have the authority to buy a customer’s information for personal gain, in addition to third party cell-towers saving and sending our personal information to other sources without our consent. Lawmakers claim that by this June, the Fourth Amendment will be ratified, and warrants will have to be issued by police in order to search and track certain individuals.
    Duhigg, Charles. “How Companies Learn Your Secrets.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Feb. 2012,
    Lubin, Gus. “The Incredible Story Of How Target Exposed A Teen Girl’s Pregnancy.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 16 Feb. 2012,

  19. Ryan Mack February 2, 2018 at 1:44 pm #

    Privacy has been a growing concern in the United States especially in the age of digital technology and the internet. The government and law enforcement agencies have been, and would like to continue collecting data from millions of Americans, many of whom haven’t done anything wrong. Just as the police can’t just barge into our homes without a warrant, we would expect the same online. Although most of our data might be with the companies providing the services to us, they are not going to use it in an attempt to prosecute us or is reading through it. As in the case of Timothy Carpenter and the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU), the government had collected cell phone records that disclosed his cell phone pinged nearby cell phone towers to the crime scene. I feel that the evidence should be tossed, and the conviction overturned because the data and evidence used was obtained in an unconstitutional matter, in violation of the Fourth Amendment which protects American citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. The Court’s ruling that the use of a pen register and the warrantless search of bank records is outdated and should not be applied to modern technology. They were set in place in the 1970s, 35+ years before the technology we use today began to come out. Many of us expect corporations that have our data to keep it secure and only use it to provide the services or to improve them. We don’t want them using it to sell and market things to us, or for it to get into the hands of hackers and criminals, or even the government. I’m comfortable with allowing companies such as Apple to collect my data such as location and app usage to analyze and improve the products. Even though I have nothing to hide, the government should only collect and track if they have a warrant to do so based on probable cause. The government is using the data to monitor and prosecute crime, companies are using the data to provide products and services. I don’t believe that the courts should apply older laws to modern technology and a modern world. I believe the government has a responsibility to physically protect us, but they also have a responsibility to protect our rights.

  20. Justin Brenner February 2, 2018 at 6:46 pm #

    Digital privacy is a bit of a hot button issue and has been since the introduction of cell phones and cell towers. Cell towers can be used to track the location of different phones, and police are able to use that data without warrant to track criminal activities. There is always the issue of this information being abused to know where everyone is at any time, and it is very uncomfortable to think that at this very moment, you are being tracked. I do not believe that there is a clear-cut answer for if this info should be used without warrant. On one hand, this data can be used to put an end to crimes quicker and more efficiently, allowing law enforcement to more easily track patterns and monitor suspicious behavior. But as said previously, it comes at the cost of privacy. Even if what you are doing and where you are going is harmless, it is still disconcerting to know that you are never truly private in your day to day life. If the government is going to be using this data, then repercussions for abuse of this data should be stricter. Another issue is how this imposes on business’s, and the cell towers that data is pulled from is property of these business’s. If law enforcement can use these towers without any express permission from these business’s, then it is a violation of said business’s property. Ultimately, both outcomes have their upsides and downsides, and picking one or the other is not going to come without its share of consequences and controversies.

  21. Michael Polito February 2, 2018 at 7:05 pm #

    The Supreme Court ruling over the police being able to use your cell phone to track your location without a warrant is a very important one. If it is ruled that the police are allowed to track your phone without a warrant, many people feel that this is a violation of our 4th amendment rights. This is our right from the protection of unreasonable search and seizure. Privacy is something that people covet and do not want taken away from them. The thought of someone being able to track you down and finding you is one that can be very frightening for some even if it is the police. If police believe that there is enough evidence that they feel the need to track someone via their cell, then they should have enough probable cause to be able to obtain a warrant that will allow them to legally search someone. The people of this country have a right to their privacy enough so that became an important part of the 4th amendment of the Constitution. If this becomes passed then it would be in direct violation of what that amendment stands for. Although the people that are the ones subjects to this illegal searches most of the time are guilty of what they were accused of doing, they are people who are entitled to their right of privacy.
    These searches without warrants would no doubt be a lot faster way to find and surveille these individuals. On the other hand, as convenient as it may be to find people and record their calls it can happen to the wrong person. Often time’s people are accused of a crime that they did not commit, and this can aide in the restraining of a person who has done nothing wrong. When there is no need for a warrant this power could be abused and used against people who are completely innocent. Innocent people could unfortunately be wrapped up in something that does not involve them. If this were to happen innocent people would be subjected to warrantless phone tapping’s. This would be a direct violation of this persons rights, and it would be all over a mistake. I feel that a person’s phone and location should be private. If the police feel that they have enough and that there is probable cause for the suspicion of the suspect then that is the only time when someone’s rights should be violated. Criminals, although it may seem unfortunate, possess the same rights that we have and should also get the privacy that they feel that they deserve. The constitution is something that is important to every US citizen, and is the pride of our nation. There are people out there that do from time to time break the law and even these people are granted their rights. In this country there are more good people then bad, as a result of that the people who abide by the law should not have to have their privacy destroyed and their rights violated just because of a few bad apples. Even though it may be obvious that a suspect has committed a crime he is innocent until proven guilty and deserves his privacy. If there is any probable cause then is the only time a phone should be used to violate someone’s privacy.

  22. Stefan February 2, 2018 at 8:12 pm #

    Government and corporate surveillances are the main cause to the on going problem and destruction of privacy. Furthermore, as seen in the daily usage of internet on a day-to-day basis, everything you search or post will remain in cyberspace forever.The supreme court in charge will help justify the the mal usage of how the most popular search engine on the internet today has become more than just our personal librarian, but even more so our personal diaries. Although government surveillance can be an important tool, the abuse and over usage of government surveillance is overlooking our fourth amendment rights and other freedoms we have stated in our constitutions. There are three different types of surveillances that occur within the government and corporate worlds that are causing the extinction of our privacy, freedom, and autonomy—communication surveillance, physical surveillance, and transaction surveillance. We live in an Era that is currently diminishing our privacy until soon in the near future it will become extinct. This issue is due to the misusage of the different types of surveillances that the government and corporations forget to respect. Moreover, Google’s data grinder is becoming our new public minds by collecting all the communications we have on social networks or by our searches while using google because of the communication surveillance they have. In addition, the government is destroying our autonomy, freedom and fourth amendment right because of their physical surveillance they have by misusing technological advances. More so, transaction surveillance and exchange of data surveillance between the phone corporations and the government become a huge issue upon our privacy. If these surveillances aren’t taken more seriously and protected than one day our Facebook pages will share everything we are thinking about, where we live, our family members, etc. However, isn’t that already what Facebook does? Has the era of the extinction of privacy upon us? The truth is yes we are living in the nightmare era of privacy. Everything said or done is online or recorded somewhere either physically or online.

  23. Aldona Brzek February 2, 2018 at 10:03 pm #

    Everyone lives their own private life and the fact that people hack into other phones or computers that people have is just unethical. Having a warrant to get into someone’s private life is important especially if it is government officials who need to find something out about you. The article mentions how we as people in this country have to abide by the fourth amendment and as citizens of his country it becomes unlawful when people hack into our systems and try to steal our information.
    Our phones and computers should be protected better than they originally are due to fact that in this century many people have access to internet and with the advancement of technology, the world is able to find ways into hacking into other’s information. I completely agree with Meghan Healy who has mentioned that we give up our privacy once we post on any social media platform. Currently more than a billion people of the world have or use social media on a daily base whether it is to post something or find information about another thing. Once you post a picture of you on vacation, robbers will tend to stalk and see whose property they can invade knowing that the people will not be home. If people want to so call “protect their private life” why does everyone tend to post and show to the world what they are doing however want to stay safe.
    When it comes to browsing through websites or social sites, everything is stored into a third-party software that gathers all of the information and gives you advertisements on websites you visit or even when using social media. For example, if you look for places in the New York City area, you will notice that the advertisements that appear on the future sites that you visit are related to either events in that area or real estate. With these third party software that gather your information, there is no privacy just as a few people mentioned, we do not have a private life as much as we would like due to the fact that we are always getting “spied on”.

  24. Abeeda Razack February 2, 2018 at 10:22 pm #

    Digital privacy has been a concern since the 1970s. However, it has become one of the more prevalent issues in today’s technological world, particularly with the drastic increase of internet use; from extensive online shopping to socializing through various form of social media which allow users to upload images and communicate with friends. However, many users are blindfolded to the fact that our rights to digital privacy are diminishing significantly. Almost all companies providing online services present upfront terms and conditions to users prior to usage. The question is, do users really spend the time to read and understand the terms and conditions? Many opt to skim through and select the “I Agree” option. As the article explains, through this process, we voluntarily turn over our rights to digital privacy without much thought.
    By agreeing, users often grant the company access to save their personal and confidential information. This also means the right to share personal information with other parties. For example, on the popular social media platform Snapchat, users can upload pictures of themselves onto their storyline, enable their location so as to acquire access to various photo filters, and create conversations with their friends. Once images are uploaded, friends of the user can view the post in a 24-hour time span. After 24 hours, the post expires and the data uploaded is deleted. Are these images really permanently deleted? According to its terms and conditions, Snapchat usually stores user data for periods of time. However, the company does not guarantee when such data will be deleted. Most individuals would say that companies are competing to know our personal information. Supporting the Justice Department’s argument that cell-tower records belong to cell-phone companies, so does our private data once we click “I Agree”. It is important for users to carefully read and understand the rules that govern these applications. While it may be frightening to know that our personal information is up for grabs by other business entities, law enforcement agencies are using this data to protect our neighborhood. As the article explains, these agencies are able to locate criminals through the GPS tracker and spy on individuals who have future plans on committing acts which may cause danger to our society. Recently, the police department has developed a new social media surveillance strategy in order to decrease the number of criminal acts across the country. This new tool helps officers to detect threats through the comments posted by users and hashtags. However, the fourth amendment protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures. While it can be argued that access to our digital data is unlawful, it can also be argued that once the user has agreed to waive his/her rights over data gathered while using an application or website, that data is no longer the users’ and access is not unlawful once the new owner decides to share. With the improvements made to technology, the court has decided that officers can arrest individuals using the GPS tracker providing that they issue warrants. However, more efforts are still to be made as more complexed situations are occurring with respect to privacy. The Supreme Court is deciding on the grounds of issuing warrants to individuals taking into consideration the fourth amendment. As technology continues to evolve, it is difficult to decipher what will be our rights to privacy in the digitized world.

  25. Chris Lineman February 16, 2018 at 7:46 pm #

    Privacy has been a concern for a very long time. Probably even longer than the 1970s, but in today’s world with digital technology, privacy becomes less and less. People talk to each other every day over media. Not only do they talk, but most post pictures and videos of their life every day. Nowadays just by going on the internet, you can find where someone lives, what they look like, how old they are, who they date, their interest, and who they talk too. It’s unsettling to think about. So many people do not even realize how much information they are sharing. The one thing that has stayed safe is text messages.
    If the court declares police can search your phone without a warrant is a huge invasion on our privacy. A lot of people keep pictures of their whole life on their phones. Not only pictures, but private messages and private notes. So much information is already shared on media, but some is meant to be kept private on digital devices. I think police having that power would get a little out of hand. People could get charged for something else completely unrelated to their original crime. If there’s something that’s known to be on someone’s phone that is going to cause harm than police should get a warrant like they do now. There’s already too many people in our correctional facilities for minor crimes which are paid with by our tax dollars. There needs to be at least a compromise for when cops do not need a warrant to go through someone’s digital device.
    Depending on the severity and context of why a cop needs to invade someone’s digital privacy without a warrant needs to be determined. This could mean that the cops come and a witness tells the police there is something illegal stored on a device. Or maybe it is considered a terroristic suspicion. Besides those scenarios, I do not clearly see why it is a cop’s business to go through somebody’s phone. Could that end up mean that you get pulled over for speeding, and the cop is going to check your phone to see if you used it while driving? That comes off as going to far for me. If they do agree that police can search a device without a warrant, then there needs to be limits at least.

  26. Katie B February 27, 2018 at 12:57 pm #

    I would have never thought that our digital world would be up for debate on who can access it. It’s weird right? Our privacy online is up for debate, people who I don’t know what to decide whether i have the right to my privacy online? I can understand what the issue is. If anything happens it is easier just to have something searched then needing to make a search warrant. However, I wouldn’t want my things, including my cell phone search without one. Should it be okay? I don’t think so. I agree with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, that the third party doctrine SHOULD be reevaluated. Yes; Apple, Google, and other platforms are third party but their job is secure our information. They pride themselves on keeping our stuff safe. When they make the decision in June I hope they rule that the police will need a warrant to search our devices. If they decide the other way, how would that affect us? I believe that our devices are like our homes. If we have the right to see a warrant before you enter my house, I would like a warrent for you to enter my cell phone. I, like most other people, have everything on my phone. It’s more convenient. I cannot think of a good reason for the police to look through my phone without reasonable cause.
    For example, let’s say Jeff are taking a test. John has a copy of the answers to the test and cheats. Jeff ends up with an amazing grade. However, the teacher expects that he has cheated because this test grade is better than what he usually has done. Does the teacher have the right to go through his books and folders to find the copy of answers? I don’t think so.
    This is the same for the police. If you do not give a reason (warrant) to go through someone’s device then you may not touch or go through said device. Reading other peoples comments on this article it seems like we are all on the same page with this issue. I wait til June to see the verdict and if they make the right decision or not.

  27. E Fuller March 2, 2018 at 7:36 pm #

    This article is bringing attention to something that once was. Privacy is the notion that what you do is held between you and you alone. Meghan Healy commented above that “with the increasing presence of social media, we gave up our privacy when we first start posting to these platforms as early as elementary school. This breach of privacy should almost come as no surprise” and I agree with her. We as a society have become so accustomed to having people know all the little things going on that it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for people to follow our every move. With all the new technology entering into our lives we have to be vigilant in how it could be abused. There is an old saying from Robert A. Heinlein “You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once.” It’s not hard to extend this principal to how technology can help law enforcement. Just as Alexa, Amazons voice activated home system is being called to serve as a witness in a murder trial in Little Rock, Ark. Here we can see the potential as a nation for our law enforcement system to become more effective, but what level of freedom would we have to give up. In getting Timothy Carpenters phone records the police didn’t need to get a warrant for his phone because the data was supplied by the cell towers that the company used. In the modern world we as consumers are generating data in quantities that the world has never seen before, and do we really want that data public? If a law agency is allowed to get my Cell-Tower records without a warrant what’s to stop them from deciding that they can track anyone they choose for any reason they choose? I think that as beneficial as it might be in enforcing the law and keeping criminals in check that the loss of liberty is too high.

    Ap. “Alexa a Witness to Murder? Prosecutors Seek Amazon Echo Data.”, Bloomberg, 28 Dec. 2016,

  28. Carley H March 27, 2018 at 3:59 pm #

    I feel like the more and more technology advances the more and more privacy starts to become a major issue. Of course privacy is important but if people are putting themselves out there on social media platforms then shouldn’t they already assume the risk? Social media is not by any means private at all, it used to be but not anymore. The problem now arises with the invention of a screenshot.
    Just because someone might have their profile private does not by any means that it really is private. Anyone who follows the particular account could easily screenshot a post and send it out to anyone that they want. So is your account really private? I have had personal experience with this with someone had posted something very offensive on their finsta account, which is like their Instagram where they rant a lot, and all it took was one screenshot to get them in trouble. Honestly, the same goes for all types of social media accounts they are dangerous and people never will ever have privacy.
    I think the main think for people to consider when posting things or using social media in general is to think about if your mom saw it would she think it is ok? Being a college student I was told that and honestly it has made me rethink certain captions or even tweets from posting. The problem nowadays is that people do not think about their actions before they do them. Which then causes issues to arise and people to think that they did not do anything wrong. This is one of the reasons why the Supreme Court is now getting involved with the matter.

  29. John A. March 27, 2018 at 8:38 pm #

    There seems to be a common theme between the technology we use every day and questions about our privacy. Is there a line that is being crossed and should regulations be put in place to answer these questions? There is a tremendous amount of data that we provide to people that we don’t even know. Regardless, that doesn’t appear to stop many people from downloading the latest apps, so how much of an issue is it.
    In the case Carpenter v. United States, the question if cell phone records being retrieved without a warrant infringe upon our Fourth Amendment rights is asked ( The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government ( In April 2011, four men were arrested in connection with armed robberies. One of the suspects confessed and gave up the cell phone numbers of the other suspects. The FBI used the Stored Communications Act to obtain orders for the cell records of the other suspects ( Under this Act the disclosure order does not require probable cause and is released on reasonable grounds that the information is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.
    In this case a disclosure order under the SCA was used to obtain the information rather than a warrant. Carpenter’s claim is that the warrantless seizure and search of the cell phone records violated his Fourth Amendment rights. There have been many cases that provide precedents to situations that question the potential violation of the Fourth Amendment rights. A warrantless search may be lawful in one’s home if there is probable cause, Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573 (1980) or if the search is incident to a lawful arrest United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218 (1973) ( However, these cases don’t involve technology as does Carpenter’s. I believe that there should be more evidence tying the suspect to the crime before this type of data can be retrieved. This case will be interesting to follow as the outcome will set a precedent for future cases that involve Fourth Amendment violations and technology.

  30. Janessa Smith February 15, 2019 at 8:47 pm #

    This article deciphers the issue of privacy if the police are able to track citizens cell phones without a warrant. There are mixed emotions about this argument. It is true that in many ways, privacy would be manipulated by the police if they access everybody’s phone, but they are just using it for judicial reasons. It is not like the police is trying to collect locations and information from third parties to stalk somebody; they are just doing their job when it comes to an investigation.
    This article also mentions that the ACLU represents Timothy Carpenter and pursued a claim for a series of records, in regards to Timothy Carpenter’s whereabouts and using nearby cell towers, was a violation of the suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights. This claim is an example of how technology advances everyday. With more of this technology pushing forward, the government is going to want to take advantage of the opportunity. In this case, the cell towers was helpful of capturing a criminal. I understand why it can cause chaos for constitutional rights but there are actual criminals that can be brought to justice with newly advance technology. Back in the 1970s, technology was much harder to handle when trying to find information; everything was manual or by-hand. In the present day, technology is invented to make things easier so of course police are going to use new technology when offered. Our cellphones hold a lot of information that some people do not know about. I didn’t know that anything we click on, like an ad or pop-up, holds that information and could be withheld against us in court if laws of needing a warrant for cell phones were not created. Thankfully in 2014, the supreme court ruled police has to have a warrant in hand to physically search cell phones. This increased difficulty for police but I understand that the government is trying to be safe from any legal allegations.
    In reality, generation Z is the industrial era that should be more concerned about this doctrine. Exceeded information is being transmitted online that someone can easily access, so it makes it harder for this generation to have privacy. Everyone in generation z has a cell phone to use the internet or social media. That information that is being transmitted to the internet or social media is a distribution of someone’s data, so privacy is given away by choice not default. But, if somebody is compromising criminal information or evidence on the internet, it is understandable if police want to take charge and look more thoroughly into the suspect.

  31. Joe Cangelosi March 29, 2019 at 12:33 pm #

    There is no doubt that technology has greatly enhanced our lives today.With that being said, I do believe that in this new age of social media, we should expect a certain degree of our privacy to be sacrificed. Everyday people post pictures and videos of themselves of what they are doing and where they are going for the public to see. I think that if the government wants to look at that information it should not be a problem. Law enforcement only tries to use this information to help prosecute criminals. If that is the case people who do not break the law should worry about their privacy being violated because law enforcement would not have a reason to go through your information. I do believe that if allowed to go through people’s information with no probable cause can lead to more extremes of more private information being looked at. I believe that the only way to navigate through this issue is as people today should be less reliant on storing digital information and posting on social media to reduce the amount of information can be looked at by law enforcement, the government, and other individuals who want to steal your information. I do not think a ruling or a change in behavior will change anytime soon when deciding about digital privacy.

  32. Emily Crisafulli October 25, 2019 at 10:15 pm #

    Privacy is one of the largest aspect to a persons life. The advancements in technology in modern times make it almost impossible to keep any information to yourself. Now, Google asks if you’d like to save your credit card information to your browser! This is a subject that I have found not many people know too much about. In a recent research project, I studies Terms and Conditions, and the lack of acknowledgement towards the content of these agreements. Very few people read them, and if they did, they’d know that by using certain sites or by clicking agree, you are volunteering your privacy information and data.

    As the article states, data and information is collected completing mundane tasks. Think about how many times you’re shopping for something on a computer then open social media on your phone and there is an ad for it. The third-party companies are sharing the data to best fit their consumers. There are people now that report Alexa consuming information that was not meant for her. In my opinion, this terrifies me. I like the idea of being able to obtain information in an emergency situation or to catch a criminal like in the article, but I do feel that there is too much being viewed that we aren’t even aware of. My hope for the future of this is that it will all become a little more transparent; it would be nice to see the information presented to consumers in a form other than legal jargon embedded in a 30 page policy agreement, that way consumers have a fair bit of information on what their allowing just by using an app or service.

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