In Carpenter Case, Justice Sotomayor Tries to Picture the Smartphone Future

from The New Yorker

“I am not beyond the belief that someday a provider could turn on my cell phone and listen to my conversations,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said on Wednesday, in the oral arguments in the case of Timothy Ivory Carpenter v. United States. She is correct; indeed, there have been indications that that day may have already arrived. And yet the government argued that when prosecutors—without a warrant—looked at some of the most intimate information that a cell-phone company can collect about its customers, they were not doing anything distinctly intrusive. The Carpenter case began with a string of robberies in which cell phones, of all things, were stolen from Radio Shacks and T-Mobile stores in Michigan and Ohio—not, in other words, a major terrorism or national-security case. One suspect turned over his phone, and on it prosecutors found that he had been in touch with Carpenter, who lived in Detroit. They then collected a hundred and twenty-seven days’ worth of Carpenter’s past cell-phone locations, revealing where and, by implication, with whom Carpenter had been at every moment of those four months. They were able to get that information with a simple order with a far lower standard than probable cause (which is what a warrant requires) and without anyone in law enforcement even having to swear out an affidavit. They used the information to convict Carpenter of six of the robberies; thanks to mandatory minimums, he was sentenced to a hundred and sixteen years in prison.

But, as Sotomayor and several other Justices pointed out—the oral arguments made it clear that both liberals and conservatives on the Court were troubled—prosecutors could, by the government’s standard, have asked for almost anything. Soon enough, they could ask for more than we can even imagine now. Nathan Wessler, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who was arguing Carpenter’s case, mentioned “information about the state of the body, like heart-rate data from a smart watch, or fertility-tracking data from a smartphone app; information about the interior of a home, for example, from a smart thermostat that knows when the homeowner is at home and perhaps what room they’re in.” Later, when Sotomayor was questioning Michael Dreeben, the government’s lawyer, she noted, “I don’t, but I know that most young people have the phones in the bed with them.”

More here.

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23 Responses to In Carpenter Case, Justice Sotomayor Tries to Picture the Smartphone Future

  1. Vincent Scorese December 8, 2017 at 5:51 pm #

    This is a very alarming and concerning article about the real privacy in a space where we thought we had more security and privacy from not only the government but also people around us. It also makes it even more concerning because of the fat that it was a United States Justice who was the one who was concerned. It also is a serious matter if people from separate parties can actually agree on a topic for once and that shows how serious this is going to get. I am afraid personally of the introduction of smart devices in my house like amazon Alexa because of the accessibility of those things like when i am or am not home or when I leave my house at certain times which could leave me to things like vulnerability to robberies or things like that. I am not a fan of the fact we have less privacy then we do and the introduction of the internet and the devices connected to it are making it harder and harder to get away from it and is putting us further away from more privacy if we even have any left.

    If the government wants to take a look at things like my heart rate or things in regards to my health does that mean they are going now to be able to try and force recommendations on what I should or should not do in regards to my health or how I want to live my life? There are things in which having less privacy gives more security in the sense that they are inverses of one another. If you want more security you have to give up more privacy and vice versa. Things like preventing terrorist attacks and things related to that are a pro in my opinion of an invasion of that privacy because they are saving people’s lives and making it safer however where does that line stop and who could use that information? Are criminals or other individuals who are technologically savvy able to take part in this information data splurge? In the hands of the right people the information is maybe okay but who is right and wrong people is completely unknown and I would like to keep my privacy and the right s to have that.

  2. Jimmy Bedoya December 8, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

    The evolution of technology often makes people reconsider whether or not they want to buy the new iPhone 8 along with the apple watch, or whether or not they should have a state of the art thermostat installed into their apartments or homes. At first, one might look at these devices as innovative and convenient to the consumer as well as the environment that he or she finds himself or herself in. It is significant, however, to take into account what exactly the evolution it is the technology is undergoing. Unfortunately, the evolution is one of intrusive and invading demeanor and is facing very controversial because people are not sure that they want to be monitored in such a close manner. The iPhone paired with the apple watch pose a threat to the average individual because they are going to be subject to facial recognition which could lead to issues of identity theft, and the apple watch also tracks where the individual is traveling too as well as how often he or she embarks on exercises. The state of the art thermostat can locate whether or not you are home and just exactly what room you are in. As one can see, these innovative devices serve a purpose far beyond its basic performances that are advertised so freely to the consumers of their choice. It is almost as if companies want you to be distracted by what the product was designed to do, and not what it can do.

    In the case of Carpenter v. the United States, there had been a string of robberies of cellphones and other devices from Radio Shacks and T-Mobile stores in Michigan and Ohio. In the case, a suspect in the case had stepped forward and turned in his phone not knowing of the government’s assertive capability to access data from anyone cellphones. Through his phone, the government was able to find phone history of the last past 127 days which consisted of cell-phone locations, showing where exactly Carpenter had been and with whom he had come in contact with and for what implication. However, according to the case, the government was able to access this information with a simple order someone else might regard to as a lower standard than probable cause, and without any affidavit from law enforcement. With the information, Carpenter was convicted of six counts of robberies all tied to each other. In his defense, Carpenter was trying to state that it was unjust for the government to access this information for it violated certain amendments and rights of privacy guaranteed to individuals of the United States. This than rose two important issues; how much the government is allowed to access before it starts being a violation of a person’s privacy and upon a decision of Carpenter vs the United States, would it be used in future cases to help resolve issues of privacy. I believe that there should be some restrictions on the government’s ability to invade a personal life but this can only be done by setting limitations on the technology. The moment a person buys the product they might be signing a contract that implicates the individual will be allowing the device to record information pertaining to the persons’ personal life. Thus if restrictions are applied there can be a limit placed on the government and then a case of probable cause is the only thing left to deal with.

    • Tanner Purcel January 25, 2018 at 9:35 pm #

      Privacy has always been a large debate in America, especially in cases revolving around terrorism. Since 9/11, the United States has passed acts that infringe on the privacy of the American citizens. George W Bush passed the Patriots Act, which allows NSA to spy on citizens; however, the court case of Timothy Ivory Carpenter v. United States (2017) has nothing to do with terrorism, yet it shows how far the government can go in accessing information pertaining to our everyday lives.
      When the FBI obtained Carpenters found records without a warrant, Carpenter attempted to suppress the decision, however his motion was denied. This brings into question whether the Fourth Amendment is violated by this warrant-less search, and if it isn’t, then how far does the government have to go to violate that amendment. This case was not a threat to national security. Lives were not in danger, yet the FBI still went as far as they did without a warrant. Just imagine how far they could have gone if it was a threat of national security. Like the comment above states, this case will affect future cases and could be used as precedent.
      Technology is a wonderful thing. It makes our lives easier and connects us to all different people around the world, yet it can be a very dangerous and scary thing. I understand that the government must protect our nation, but this case was not a threat of national security and the FBI should not have went as far as they did without a warrant. Everyone with a cellphone can easily be tracked, and not just by the government. Hackers can also find ways to track you or hack into your cameras to see you. It is becoming harder and harder to protect ourselves and our information from both the government and hackers. Snapchat’s and apples “face recognition” is also an alarming feature that many people just look past. The main problem within this case is how easy it was for the FBI to find this information without a warrant. In a world where technology is advancing as rapidly as it is, the courts need to be stricter in what they allow, and the judges need to be strict on allowing warrants.

  3. zonghao li December 8, 2017 at 8:59 pm #

    One of the aspects that could definitely use regulation is the academia world, where there are important issues of rising costs and massive student debt. As government pulls funds and control from universities and other institutions of higher education, schools given free reign to enforce their agenda. Unfortunately, the general trend[a] seems to be that the school’s policy direction is diverging from the original intention, which is to provide quality education. Instead, modern educational institutions compete with each other[b] to secure more students. One way of doing this is to build more and more buildings to provide a better image of grandeur. However, among all these new construction projects we need to ask ourselves where to draw the line between the university’s prestige and the quality of education given. We need to ask the question: how are these recreational and academics progressing the student’s learning?
    While many universities can continue to splurge because of their prestige and the increasing importance of a college degree, other less renowned universities[c] are having a hard time trying to keep up with the spending habits of their more prestigious counterparts. Or as Thomas H. Powell, Mt. St. Mary’s University president, puts it, “we borrowed a lot of money, but we had no choice, I wasn’t going to watch the buildings fall down.”
    Perhaps what this means is that the government needs to step in. With increased regulation and someone to look over the schools’ shoulders, at the very least the rampant tuition growth can be somewhat mitigated. One way can be to differentiate between the colleges that provide quality education, colleges that actually provide a public good. For example, there were lawsuits [d]concerning the legitimacy and ethical nature of for profit universities such as Trump University. Among concerns of whether or not for profit universities provide quality education are questions of ethical business practices such as enrolling students in courses that provide course material as advertised and permitting students who want to transfer out the appropriate credits for their work in the for profit college.
    In light of these controversial policies, I strongly believe that a system that promotes incentives to provide quality education through tax benefits would greatly alleviate the problem of outrageous tuition costs and stagnant if not downgrading education quality. As Congress discusses its new tax plan, they can allow universities that provide quality education to receive tax benefits while other universities, especially for profit universities, can be taxed. This way, both the US government and the students win; the US government gets more tax revenue while students enjoy better education.
    In our capitalistic society, incentive is the name of the game. Without government regulation, universities could just do whatever they want and unfortunately that means enforcing their own agendas which is to make the universities bigger to attract more students and more money. However, if there is some monetary incentive for universities to do their jobs, I’m sure we will see the trend shift because money is the lifeline needed to keep the universities running. Depending on how lenient Congress is, or rather, how politically feasible it is, the aforementioned tax penalty on colleges that don’t provide quality education can be closed down. Thus, in an ideal world, only the universities receiving tax benefits and maybe a few universities that remains even without receiving tax benefits remain to exist. Of course, as a policy this will be very hard to be approved political-wise, and there are also enforcement problems of the accuracy of regulatory agencies to determine the quality of education and who gets the tax benefits.
    In the end, it might not even be feasible. However, I still stand by my statement that providing incentives to better education quality and disincentives to bad education qualities will greatly alleviate the problem. In our capitalistic world, we are to a large extent free to do what we want, and if there are incentives to help push us a certain way, we will certainly see a new trend.

  4. Gabrielle Pietanza January 24, 2018 at 3:56 pm #

    In this day and age we as individuals carry our miniature computers everywhere we go. These devices have our messages, pictures, social media accounts, store applications including amazon, email accounts, Microsoft platforms, health information, and so much more. The fact that our telephone companies and government has access to the information I have just stated is an alarming reality we must realize. The internet with this information is able to profile us with a significant amount of accuracy. Most devices additionally have location services programmed on them and specific applications with which, are able to track everywhere the telephone, and so, the individual travels. This is the case in Timothy Ivory Carpenter v. United States. Through Carpenter’s telephone the government was able to browse his telephone history and more specifically, the last 127 days of location and contacts. With this information available, Carpenter was convicted for six counts of robbery and thus will be imprisoned for 116 years.

    Carpenter, like many of us when hearing these facts naturally believed these actions go against our Constitutional rights regarding privacy. The terms and conditions checkbox we generally seem to overlook on each device and platform takes away these rights to privacy and make it so that the information our devices produce are able to be passed along and used in ways of which it may not be intended such as in Carpenters case. Once we as individuals accept the terms presented to us in an overwhelming contract most seem to overlook, we are signing our agreement allowing the device to track personal information regarding our lives. When the information was accessed the actions of the telephone company were not intrusive or wrong. Carpenter had his telephone on his person at the times of the robberies and for this reason was able to be tracked and later, to be convicted. Although I do not condone the actions and activities Carpenter was a part of, this seems to be an inappropriate way to be convicted.

    The simple fact and truth of the matter is privacy is becoming a myth. Applications and the phone itself is always busy working to collect locations and information regarding our lives. Generally, they use this information to market products we may be interested in, recommend videos, music, and other entertainment, or to make the websites we frequently visit easier to access. Although these actions seem helpful, I am always concerned when my browser shows me exactly what I am looking for without me asking it to. Oftentimes I believe my computer is ahead of me and knows exactly what I am looking for. The scary reality is that with the internet and all of its capabilities we must be mindful of all we do not just on our phone and other devices, but with these devices on our person.

  5. Antonio Macolino January 24, 2018 at 8:54 pm #

    Privacy is one of the biggest issues concerning society today. Every day complaints can be heard from average citizens about the government and law enforcement agencies watching their every move and tracking their location at all times. To some, this may sound ridiculous. People have been taught from a young age that a person cannot be searched and their privacy cannot be breached unless there is a warrant or the police have probable cause. But is this really true anymore? Many cases have come up in recent years in which people are being sent to jail because their phones and computers were being searched by police and criminal information was found about them. But, the problem with these cases is that the law enforcement agencies are conducting more and more searches and tapping into people’s private information without warrants and without much probable cause.
    This is the case in Timothy Ivory Carpenter v. The United States. Carpenter was a robber who was caught by police via them taking information from his phone such as tracking his location. Carpenter’s argument is that there was no search warrant or probable cause to conduct this search. What the police are arguing is that there is a precedent set during Smith v. Maryland in 1979. In that case the police searched phone records of calls being made via different landlines to track a suspect down. The courts determined this to be constitutional.
    The only issue with this is that technology has drastically changed since 1979. Supreme Justice Sonia Sotomayor and liberal and conservative justices alike agree that technology has changed so much that there is controversy as to whether that precedent still stands today or not. In this current day and age technology has become so advanced that law enforcement agencies can pinpoint the exact location of anyone with a cell phone or computer. They also even have to power to view what a person is doing via webcams and they can go through a person’s phone to see their pictures and text messages.
    Because of how much technology has changed, I view using the precedent set in Smith v. Maryland to be problematic. With how advanced technology is, I find it to be a large invasion of privacy for law enforcement officials to gather information without a warrant or probable cause. They can find out way more personal information now than they could in 1979. Because of this, it is unfair for people to have to feel completely unsafe because they know that the government or law enforcement could be watching them at any moment. This is why I would have to disagree with the arguments made by law enforcement officials in the Carpenter v. United States case.

  6. Lauren Woodward January 25, 2018 at 5:03 pm #

    As our society grows in the use and implementation of technology, questions concerning its applicability to privacy arise. Technology is such a predominant concept in our everyday lives; everywhere you turn you see phones, tablets, computers, watches, smart hubs, etc, where millions of pieces of information are stored for each user. Not only do we face issues concerning hackers, but we also find problems with how much privacy we as consumers of technology have. In terms of legal situations, how much privacy is too much privacy? Too little?In the case of Timothy Ivory Carpenter v. United States, Carpenter’s phone was investigated without a warrant, in which they were able to incriminate him with his phone records and locations.
    When I took a college forensics class in high school, it was drilled into our brains how evidence had to be obtained in a certain way, with warrant, for it to be admissible in court. What this class failed to touch on are the complications technology reveals when building evidence against a party. Who is to say that prosecutors violate our privacy when most of us sign our information away in phone contracts, terms and conditions, and app agreements? Unfortunately, the fact prosecutors abused Carpenter’s privacy was not illegal at all; in that the phone company held the records as part of the phone contract. It is a very fine line where law enforcement decides what technological pieces of information are legal and illegal, which is where we find issue.
    Hearing stories of court cases being decided on personal records, a conversation Amazon Alexa picked up, or simply a note you typed in an app raises huge concern on our amount of privacy we receive in conjunction with technology. However, at the same time we as users must understand the rights we give away by indulging in these conveniences. One cannot be ignorant and expect to be fully protected when they use a device or platform connected to the Internet, and that is the sad truth of how our society is changing. As a user myself, it hurts to agree with the court, however I do. We are at the bending will of technology and its companies, and therefore I believe unless one is amazingly strategic with how they use technology, we all must accept that we have no privacy anymore when it comes to our phones, computers, watches, and all other devices. While the Internet and technological advances are a blessing, they are also a curse that we have to be aware of.

  7. Connor Wiedeman January 25, 2018 at 5:24 pm #

    This case is the first of many future debates about how far is too far when it comes to collecting some of the unlimited information a cell phone can reveal about it’s owner. While a cell phone can certainly reveal damning evidence about a defendant, it raises the question of how protected a persons phone data truly is. The data on our smart phones can reveal almost everything personal about a person. You can learn their interests, hobbies, favorite foods, who they talk to etc, but more creepily, smart phones can reveal your exact locations at all times, every conversation you’ve ever had through the phone, medical issues, and every picture you’ve ever taken. This information is obviously very sensitive to anybody, and it is disheartening to know that the government can obtain all of that information very easily. Some would argue that it does not make much of a difference considering the existing government surveillance already in place such as the NSA , have already broken all boundaries of privacy. Although this may be true, it is still an uncomfortable feeling knowing how little privacy we truly have nowadays, and how unprotected the data on our phones can be to both the government and hackers alike.
    This case is an important one because it is setting somewhat of a precedent to how these types of issues will be handled in the future. The defendant did not stand a chance once his phone records were obtained, which yes, is a good thing that a guilty man was correctly sentenced, but is a bad thing because using these methods to prosecute defendants can become a slippery slope very fast. Obtaining phone records can be very useful in some cases, and can perhaps provide the deciding evidence or proof, but the US court system should not turn into a system where we have a defendant walk in, have his phone records revealed to a jury, then walk out a guilty man. With technology, you never know. It could be possible for phone records to be altered and make an innocent man seem almost certainly guilty.
    More laws need to be created to ensure that the government is unable to access phone data without probable cause. If our phone records are able to be searched for no reason at all, then we simply have zero privacy. This is an issue that more people need to be aware and educated about because if you were to walk down the street and ask ten people if the government could search your phone records without probable cause, chances are most people will say no.

  8. Jessica Williams January 25, 2018 at 6:31 pm #

    The improvement in technology over the past decade has without a doubt improved the quality of living for society as a whole. While activities such as talking to a friend, completing tasks for school or work, or even how we spend our leisurely time have enhanced, one has to wonder what we have to give up as a result of this technological advancement.

    The Carpenter v. the United States case highlights these underlying issues with advanced technology, specifically the issue of privacy. As stated in the article, the case began when a man named Timothy Ivory Carpenter started a string of robberies, in which he stole cell phones from T-Mobile and RadioShack stores all over Michigan and Ohio. When a suspect handed over his phone, prosecutors were able to find out where Carpenter resided, as well as 127 days worth of cellphone locations, which tracked where he was and who he was with during those days. Although the prosecutors were able to use the information found to find and convict Carpenter for six of the robberies, and ultimately put him in prison, the most alarming aspect of the investigation was how they were able to access the information with an order that was lower than probable cause, which is what a warrant requires.

    The article also quoted the Fourth Amendment rights, which stated that people have the right to “be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” While there were cases mentioned that put a stop to dangerous criminals such as in the Carpenter case, this lack of regard for the private documents or information within an individual’s phone can put even the innocent at risk of an invasion of privacy. With the preciseness of technology today, as things such as the location of an individual to even their own heartbeat could be monitored through smartwatches and cellphones, the conclusion of the Carpenter v. the United States case is concerning to not only criminals, but even the average citizen, as this invasion of privacy could eventually lead to wrongful convictions and sentences, if the searches and monitoring of cell phones without any regard to the ethics of the action is considered.

    Personally, I believe that the means of which the Carpenter case as well as other cases, such as Riley v. California, were handled is alarming to the common citizen. This lack of regulation for the searches of personal documents such as photos and contacts in an individual’s phone (as mentioned in the latter case in the article), could prove to make arrests more dangerous, as it could eventually lead to corruption and an increase in wrongful arrests or convictions based on misconceptions. This could bar people from even communicating with others, as they would have to even more mindful of how they word things out of fear that they could be searched and have their messages become misinterpreted for criminal activity. This infringes on an individual’s basic freedoms as stated in the Constitution of the United States because this sort of activity would insinuate that all citizens with electronic devices are or will be monitored even without probable cause, which would enable the government to control its citizens through fear.

  9. Daniel Colasanto January 25, 2018 at 8:16 pm #

    The exponential growth of technology and its applications could be posing a significant threat to our personal privacy and safety as a whole. It also seems that technology is advancing at a much faster rate than the government’s ability to establish laws and legal regulation. New technology and it’s applications are continually posing threats that is very difficult for the government to discover. It seems that the government can only find a problem or danger in a new technology only after someone is injured or some entity is negatively affected. I feel the reason why it is so hard to predict how a technology can endanger people is because businesses it would take a very long amount of time to theorize all of the (possibly infinite) user applications of mobile technology, internet software, gps satellite, etc.
    The improvement of technology has without a doubt improved many of our lives, living in one of the most innovative eras of human history. It is not arguable that technology is progressing and helping progress many people’s lives and develop economies all across the globe. It is just very important for people today to look at what is going on all around us. Understand that while people all around the world are benefiting for instance from a new phone with new and innovative features, that those same new and innovative features are being used in devious ways to steal information and hinder someone else’s life to gain power, money, and other things. As stated in The Carpenter v. the United States case highlights these underlying issues with advanced technology, specifically the issue of privacy are hindering innocent people’s lives by using the same technology that is progressing different people’s lives entirely. I believe that the only way to solve these issues is by more government regulation and faster legal processes to establish laws that will protect citizens before they are harmed by scams, stolen money/ information, privacy breaches and more. Ideas of how much the government is allowed to access before it starts being a violation of a person’s privacy was brought to surface in the Carpenter vs the United States and will be used to resolve issues of privacy in the future. I believe in order for legal regulation to catch up with the advancement of technology, legal professionals and governments officials will need to keep a keen eye as to what technology businesses, especially large corporations like Microsoft and Apple are creating and implementing in order to make sure that they are not breaching any Constitutional Rights or unintentionally releasing a mainstream technology that could be leveraged to invade an person’s personal privacy, account information, or possibly something even worse. Legal regulation of mobile technology, computer software, drones, artificial intelligence, etc, are leading the way into the future and lawyers, judges, politicians, and law enforcement all need to keep up with the trends and predict future tragedies.

  10. Luke Nadolny January 26, 2018 at 9:57 am #

    When it comes to technology, privacy has become a major issue in this day and age. It seems that you can not just go wherever you want without being watched in some form of way. Whether it is the NSA spying on you from your camera, or social media outlets like Snapchat introducing the Snapmap, which is basically a precise location of where your friends are on Snapchat. Ever since Edward Snowden revealed classified information about U.S. spy programs, American citizens have been alerted about the behind the scenes work of the government. The Carpenter v United States case is just one of the prime examples of just how far authorities can actually go to achieve their goals.

    In the Carpenter Case, the police had access to a hundred and twenty seven days of Carpenter’s cell phone locations. These actions were the result of the Smith v Maryland case back in 1979, where the court determined that law enforcement could obtain phone records and locations of a suspect in a potential crime. They obtained all of this information and they did not even have a warrant, which questions the restrictions put on law enforcement. They were able to collect information that would be put under the term of privacy, and bypass multiple restrictions and amendments, and this was just in a robbery case, imagine if this was an issue of terrorism. Now of course, technology and law has evolved and changed since 1979, but due to the precedence of the Smith v Maryland case, the decision has layed the foundation for a whole new set of court decisions. The amount of power that law enforcement and the government have is a little over the top, but than again, it can only be used to help keep people safe.

    Do I think it is right to spy on people through there camera on their computer or smartphone? Well no I do not, but in the case of obtaining phone records to solve a crime, and God forbid something worse, than I do not have a problem with breaching rights, because if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. When it comes to privacy in 2018, we have very little of it now, but most of that is meant to keep us safe from potential threats. If you need my phone records to help in a case, I do not have a problem, I have nothing to hide, for any other matters though, I would prefer you use the old fashion method.

  11. Nicholas Marinelli January 26, 2018 at 4:45 pm #

    Everyone knows that technology is rapidly and exponentially growing at an unprecedented rate, but are laws growing in the same fashion? The technology 30 years ago- even just the past decade itself- is wholly different from what the population was susceptible to when it was in the remedial stages. Technology has drastically improved the lives of millions; creating thousands of jobs and enabling people all over the globe to unite under one roof- the internet. Advancements in education, healthcare, and innovation has all led back to the roots of technology, but is it time that certain precedent cases need to be changed?
    As we know, the precedent case is the most imperative case in the legal system. It provides a basis of what to go by and a ruling to adhere to; however, the American Legal System may needs to update some instances. The safety of individuals is always the upmost importance to the government, but security is quite a substantial issue as well. The growing concern of Big Brother is now the face of every other blockbuster film and best-selling novel- clearly the American people do not want to be watched. I feel that if the government can constantly watch us on the internet, why aren’t we, the citizens, allowed to know everything about them; if we have to show everything, the government should show more too.
    Now, it is great that prosecutors can use location tracking and phone monitoring to catch criminals and stop potential terror plots, but to do so without a warrant should not be right. We live in a world where everything is on our smartphones- emails, numbers, pictures, credit cards, insurance cards, and so much more. To say the government- without a warrant- can search these devises is the same as them coming into your home and searching every possession. According to the Plain View Doctrine, an officer can legally search an area if evidence is clearly visible and seize evidence if an act is illegal. The Fourth Amendment states that the police must get a signed search warrant to enter and search a house- so if that is the case with a home, what is the difference with a phone. To state that the government is able to get information from your phone with “a simple order with a far lower standard than a probable cause” is just unlawful and not right.
    Since technology has changed, it is time for the law to change as well. The precedent 1979 decision of Smith v Maryland case should still in fact be in place as it impedes a person’s privacy after they have committed a crime and the authorities are aware of that, but a new precedent must take the place for the ever-changing forms of technology. It is interesting because every single word in these cases makes all the difference; the Fourth Amendment states that it promises “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses… against unreasonable searches and seizures”. When talking about smartphones, developers state that it “houses” emails, contacts, photos, etc., so is that information safe based on the terminology used. Will a new law and case need to be set to state, “The information on a smartphone or computer has a right to be secured under the housing of the device”? I firmly believe that citizens should be protected on their phones if there is no illegal or illicit acts taking place. The idea of a stop and frisk to search cell phones should not at all be constitutional. In the case of Riley v California, for example, the police should not have been allowed to charge him with gang relations based off information from his phone. No matter the decision of phone searching, there will be heated and elongated debates that either side will argue their ideas are constitutional.

  12. jaymie nieves January 26, 2018 at 6:29 pm #

    In a post 9/11 society, the issue surrounding privacy laws has become extremely controversial. With things such as the Patriot Act laws passed under former President Bush, the privacy we had 20 years ago is completely different than the privacy we have today. There have been many arguments that there have been unwarranted or unnecessary violations of privacy that authorities are deeming it legal as a “protection for national security”. Where can the line are drawn between too much or too little security? And once that boundary is determined, who abides by it? Of course anyone can agree that necessary measures have to be taken in order to provide a safer society to live in. It is a part of the unspoken social contract we have with the government, forfeit some of our basic civil rights and by cooperating; the end result is a safer society. At least in an ideal system, that is how one would hope it works. But this ideal system can lead to many issues dealing with our basic rights as American citizens. Obviously, it can be very unsettling to know that at any moment, the government can figure out things like your actions, your location and who you’re with. Yet, we root for military operations to seek this kind of information when it comes to terrorists. Just in 2011, when the military operation to find and execute Osama Bin Laden was completed, America as a whole praised the military for their strategic thinking and success in attaining the information necessary to find Bin Laden.
    When the government has access to our private information, it can be treated as a double edged sword. One side of the argument claims that the government is merely trying to protect us from acts of terror by accessing information from cellphones. The NSA cypher through millions of texts daily to prevent terrible actions from occurring. However, the other side of the controversy views this as a kind of “breach” and a violation of privacy. Some would even go as far as to say that is violates their fourth Amendment. They believe that the government is invading their constitutional agreement to its citizens for unreasonable search and seizure.
    The new age of technology comes with a price. Personal Information is no longer private and other people besides the government has control of our information. Services like Facebook use this information to make a profit and sell it to other companies to make profit. Even though we have a right to our privacy, new technology allows other people including the government to track our personal lives. The growth of internet has made privacy of personal information nearly impossible.
    Phone providers have access to all sort of information through your smart phone. NSA has admitted to have permission to accessing this information though complicated means. The government already has access to information and has received it through phone providers. Every day we are giving new information about our daily lives through our phones without even knowing it. The government having access to our information may seem like a breach to our fourth amendment but other companies use this information to profit of it while the government uses it to protect us.

  13. Don R January 26, 2018 at 7:57 pm #

    The sad reality of the 21st century is that privacy was a luxury of the past, that our children would never know. We no longer have a private and public life. Instead, we have a private life that has gone public. That was a rewording of G. Bruce Boyer’s article titled Dress Up from First Things. It is not a Smartphone Future, but a prison that we have created.
    While numerous corporations have what some might call a little too friendly of a relationship with our government services, it is not the corporations who are at fault for the erosion of privacy in the United States. It is the consumers and citizens in the United States that are to blame for the erosion of privacy. The public officials won their positions based on the popular opinion of the people, and the people said “more security at the cost of privacy.” The corporations are merely there to make a profit and should not be vilified when they feed us the products and services we continue to buy.
    In this post-privacy world, the duty now falls on the citizens and the consumers to educate themselves on the grim reality that awaits them in 2018. I do not believe in the morality of the complete and utter destruction of privacy, but I would be a fool to try and fight reality. I am not going to invest in fighting the windmills hoping for some grand return to where our household do not have microphones in them, that WE installed by the way. We as a society will not be able to go back to the days of privacy, ever! One cannot close Pandora’s box.
    This erosion of confidentiality leads to a conversation about what to do while standing on the corpse of privacy. Whose’s death we are responsible. The counter to an ever listening government is merely a return to manners. The solution “merely” is be very careful what you say, write, and do for everyone hears and sees you now. All your movements are forever documented, and will never be forgotten no matter how hard you try. “Young people” need to, now more than ever, put their best foot forward on the public square and behind closed doors. We need to either embrace a culture of high manners or be ever vigilant of the authoritative government we have given the keys to our home. We are guilty as sin in the creation of this Frankenstein monster of surveillance. The only privacy you have left are your thoughts inside your head until of course, that becomes a crime. You can only hope to have “your day in court.”

  14. zhijie Yang January 26, 2018 at 8:10 pm #

    The rapid development of science and technology has facilitated the present human life. For example, the mobile phone can be GPS-oriented, can pay, can work and study. Only by ensuring the security of the network and the privacy of individuals, e-commerce can really start and flourish. In terms of efficiency and reality, legislation on cybersecurity and privacy should be included in the general sectoral law. The establishment of a system of personality rights, including the right to privacy, in the civil code being enacted has both practical and historical significance. The characteristics of the network without borders determine that the relevant legislation needs international coordination and cooperation. Therefore, the network technology broadens the space for the development of international law. The fact that an individual is confronted with a computer implies that the moral factor is the logical necessity of the fundamental guarantee of cybersecurity and privacy. This also shows the cultural and moral significance of network technology.

    What has happened also shows that whether it is an ordinary web platform or a national military website with a high degree of security precautions and even the Microsoft Empire (Microsoft reportedly was hit by “hackers” around October 25, 2002, the source of Windows Almost stolen code) are difficult to avoid the “hacker” invasion and attack. Therefore, facts also show that cybersecurity is not a purely technical issue. In other words, in theory, anti-crime technology can be said to be hard to detect. Therefore, the issue of the safe use of the Internet is actually the regulation of human behavior and the formation of network ethics, or the formation of network code of conduct and order issues. In the final analysis, it is the issue of human moral consciousness. In other words, on the one hand, it is necessary to be able to effectively and legally crack down on the intentional or wanton invasion or attack on the Internet. On the other hand, individuals and groups that engage in and operate network technologies must consciously comply with the industry’s rules and regulations. Must be clear about their moral responsibility, in order to ultimately ensure network security.
    Taking a comprehensive consideration, personal privacy issues are not only information security issues, but also the moral and legal responsibilities of individuals and enterprises. Have to admit, in the current social moral situation desalination, the issue of privacy violations will become even more serious. Therefore, to ensure the security of the customer’s personal data, the information company needs relatively high information security technology, otherwise it is easy to be invaded. However, if the enterprise and enterprise staff in charge of personal information are irresponsible, personal information may be betrayed or transferred only for their own benefit. “Managers must recognize that they should respect personal privacy and must understand that protecting privacy is an integral and necessary part of doing business.” Therefore, we not only need to call for network ethics to awaken people’s moral self-awareness, but also to improve Relevant laws. Otherwise, personal privacy can only be extremely dangerous in the information age.

  15. Alexis Candelora January 26, 2018 at 8:46 pm #

    Technology is advancing quicker than ever before and it is often difficult to judge whether certain advancements are in the best interests of the consumer body. In cases such as these, it is evident technology is far more capable than many individuals realize which makes it simple for professionals to learn and steal information of others for personal benefit. However, it is also beneficial for solving difficult crime cases. Regardless of the pros and cons, however, a customer should always be aware of the potential risks they expose themselves to when in possession of these electronic devices. Cell phones, laptops, security devices, all of these objects seem harmless to the owners, yet they can provide a basis of information for many crimes such as robbery and identity theft. Knowing that a hacker can access information from apps, browser history, location, and even when you are actively on a device is terrifying to any owner, yet the information can be essential so one may be aware of what they expose to potential hackers and criminals.
    While the advancement of technology is one major aspect brought about by the case, it also imposes the idea of privacy not being so private anymore. Considering the government officials were able to search through Carpenter’s information so easily and in so much detail as to know where he had been and who he had been with over a span of four months is a serious invasion of privacy. Yes, the invasion led to the capture of a criminal, however, the government workers could just as easily rummage through a normal civilian’s information just as easily. This is an immense breach of privacy. Should others be able to access another’s personal information on his or her phone or laptop so easily? While this question can be largely debated and has many benefits as well as drawbacks, the answer may remain forever unknown. As technology advances, privacy appears to be a sacrifice manufacturers are willing to make and whether consumers agree or not, they will continue to purchase the latest products.

  16. Shakur Mckinney January 31, 2018 at 1:33 pm #

    After reading this article I find myself feeling amid between both sides of the spectrum regarding technology and the way it will be handled in our criminal justice system. One side being pro the use of things like collecting cell phone conversations in an effort to convict criminals and the other being totally against it, because they believe it is a total invasion of privacy, and goes against some of our constitutional rights. On one hand technology has evolved and whether you want to agree or not it’s a great thing for society. If we’re talking strictly on the criminal justice side of things technology has been extremely helpful as we continue to learn more things and implement them to keep our country and the world safe. In this day and age with the amount of technology we have it should be nearly impossible to convict a person of a crime that they did not commit and that’s why I partially agree with the people who are pro the use of things like cell phones in the court of law. For me if I were to be accused of a crime that I know I did not commit I would love to tell the police or prosecutors to go through my cell phone and check my records and pictures, because that might give a me a clear alibi for whatever I am being wrongfully accused of. Rather than them taking my word or going to look for witness to validate whatever I told them. I would be happy to give them my cell phone, because then they would have actual evidence that what I am telling them is truth. Even from the perspective of if a criminal that has in fact committed a crime, i’m not sure i’m against police going into his or her phone to get the evidence they need. Is it against constitutional rights? Maybe, depending on how you word it. But I would still rather it be allowed than banished just for the guy or girl who may be telling the truth about not committing a crime; his or her phone and whatever’s inside of it could grant his or her freedom. That’s why I think the use of technology especially as it gets better will only help in protecting the innocent and wrongfully accused, but as with anything in life, there are positive and negative effects to everything.
    As we continue to grow and adapt and come up with new technology I can see the use of technology by the government and in the court of law becoming a problem. I mean it already has, but I am thinking on a broader scale. The amount of technology and things we have already is crazy but, think of something like a “smart mirror” that in the near future could be created. I would describe a smart mirror as a mirror with an interface and camera on it, so that you could take pictures of yourself while looking directly into a mirror. We’ve all heard stories about the government being able to in essence spy on people through their laptop cameras, which is already alarming. However your only on a laptop for maybe a couple hours a day, and depending on who you are, you’re not really doing much on it. But with something like a “smart mirror” depending on where it is in your house, you could possibly be watched from the time you wake up till the time you go to sleep. Don’t get me wrong breaking the law is breaking the law but if people can’t feel comfortable in their own homes, then that’s a problem and it goes against our constitutional rights. I know this sounds a little far fetched but with things like smart TVs coming out every year, capable of doing more and more things I don’t see something like this or a variation of some sorts not coming out and being in people homes in the near future. So what happens when police with or without a warrant have the ability to look at your “smart mirror” files, and now they basically have access to the viewership of your whole life. That’s why I also partially agree with the side that does not support the use of cell phone records and conversions in the court of law, because yes it might not be a huge problem now, but if this is allowed and technology continues to advance at fast as it is, where will the line be drawn.

  17. Nicholas DiBari February 1, 2018 at 2:32 pm #

    The three-way relationship between mobile devices, crime prevention, and privacy is one that can be extremely difficult to balance. In today’s day and age, roughly three quarters of adult American citizens own a smartphone (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/28/10-facts-about-smartphones/). With this statistic in mind, it is important to remember that all of these devices are accessible by the government. The omnipresence of these devices should serve to remind us that, in reality, nothing is ever entirely private anymore. It is to be mentioned, however, that research has deemed that the widespread ownership of smartphones has resulted in a decrease in crime rates (http://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/faculty_scholarship/426/). In spite of this, there are many who feel that “constantly being on stage”, so to speak, is an incursion of an individual’s right to privacy. Regarding a case involving the usage of cellphone information to indict a robber, Justice Sotomayor commented that the prosecutors “could have asked for anything”. Despite this, it can be comforting knowing that preemptive intervention is possible if authorities catch wind of a potentially devastating threat before it even occurs via mobile device monitoring.

    However, for those who are completely innocent, it can be alarming to know that at any waking moment, that tiny camera at the top of your iPhone display could activate, unbeknownst to you, and begin streaming video to a remote source. One would hope that ethics comes into play and surveillance does not occur without a valid reason for it to. Likewise, there is always the constitutional argument that a look into someone’s mobile device without valid reason is a violation of unwarranted search and seizure, however, as it would seem we are entering an era in which this is a gray area.

    There is, of course the argument that if you have nothing to hide, then it should not matter whether or not the government are using your mobile device to learn more about you or to listen in. In contest to that, Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, has said that, “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” Despite the fact that surely the majority of individuals have nothing to hide, is that really validation for the government to do any snooping that it wants to? Protection from unreasonable search or seizure is, according to the Constitution, a right guaranteed to all Americans and, therefore, one could reason that unwarranted searches of information from a mobile device could be deemed unconstitutional.

  18. Mary Margaret Miller February 1, 2018 at 8:39 pm #

    As the digital age begins to expand, legislators and members of the court system are trying to have laws enacted that protect the digital rights of all citizens. Mentioned in the article is a case about a man named Carpenter who had his phone searched without a warrant who ended up serving a one hundred and sixteen year sentence due to all of the robberies he had committed. Had the smartphone not been tracking his locations during the four months police were searching for him, police would not have learned Carpenter was affiliated with much of the crime in Michigan and Ohio.
    What Justice Sotomayor argues is that the fourth amendment should be ratified in order to protect an individual by their digital rights. Within the Carpenter case was the argument that there was no search warrant listed and therefore the police should not have confiscated and gone through his cellular device upon his arrest. According to another case in 2014, a man named David Riley was stopped for having an expired license and tags, and police then searched his car. After finding two unregistered guns and searching through his smartphone, they were able to conclude and confirm that he was a member of the Bloods. This violates the Fourth Amendment being that there was no warrant issued to search him, or a warrant for his arrest. What started as a basic traffic stop for expired information, turned into a court case.
    In 1979, a case occurred where a man (Smith) was convicted of robbery. The only way he was found guilty was from the police third party to investigate his phone calls, meaning the phone company’s cell service. This was seen as constitutional for police to contact the third party to help determine where the calls originated and who was to be held accountable for making them. Some argue this was justified, while others claim it to be an infringement of rights and that a warrant must be issued to search a smartphone.
    With our phones always at our fingertips, we must become more aware of how much power our devices actually have over us. Anything and everything is monitored and recorded on our smartphones, and lawmakers must adjustments to the fourth amendment in order to accommodate the rights of all individuals. Through issuing warrants, it will not only solve the unethical random phone scans, but will also resolve the problem of invasion of privacy and rights. As time goes on, technology will only advance, and it is up to the lawmakers to protect the rights of the American people.

  19. Christopher Karant February 2, 2018 at 1:28 pm #

    Currently we are in the middle of a technology boom. Advances in technology are growing exponentially and the way we use technology is changing as well. Everybody uses their smartphones as a way to organize their lives. Your smartphone can contain personal conversations, health information, and your entire schedule. Safe to say that it is an item that people carry around with significant importance. Since technology is a recent development the law has to catch up to regulate privacy. Since smartphones are a recent invention there is no precedent to be set for these incidences.
    In the Carpenter vs US case, the police were able to track down carpenter because they came in position of a phone which showed where had been and who he had talked to for the past four months. Using this information the authorities were able to catch him and put him in jail. The controversy in this case arises from the authorities use of a personal mobile device to track down Carpenter. Since a cell phone contains a lot personal information about a person it can be seen as a violation of privacy for the police to use the phone to track down a suspect.
    Privacy is a much more relevant topic now because of the controversy of Wikileaks. Courts now how to set a precedent for these cases because their will be more incidences like this one. They have to decide what is more important privacy or authoritative measures. In this case Carpenter is guilty of the robberies and will be convicted but the judge has to make an important decision to decide the future of technological privacy.

  20. Matt Henry February 2, 2018 at 8:02 pm #

    Freedom is a major concern of US citizens and many actions have been taken to make sure the government does not have too much control. The fourth amendment is one example of this which states:
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    Unfortunately, the more restricted government is, the less it is able to protect their citizens. The values of freedom and security and freedom are always clashing in the eyes of the people. Smart phones have recently added fuel to this ongoing fire.
    The case referred to in the article, Carpenter v. United States is a prime example of this debate. The defendant Carpenter was accused of stealing cell phones and prosecutors were able to access information on these phones to discover four months of Carpenter’s locations and other activities. A simple order was enough to retrieve this information and no one in law enforcement had to swear out an affidavit. Judge Sotomayor acknowledged that the prosecution could have accessed any information from the phones and it would have been legal from a government standpoint. There are tons of cases setting precedence about privacy and what the law enforcers have a right to access, but the developments of technology completely changes how these cases are viewed. The outcome of this case is influential to what the government is able to access from our personal devices.
    I could not help but to think of the US v. Apple court case involving the San Bernardino shooting. The FBI was able to retrieve data from the phone before the trial was finished, so a standard was not reached on technology and privacy. As a US citizen, it is alarming that the government is able to access information on my phone without my knowledge or permission. It is difficult to reach a happy medium, because on one hand I want the government to be able to access potential lifesaving information by tracking the phones of criminals. On the other hand, the less secure our devices are, the easier it is for hackers to access vital information. The carpenter case gave the government a little too much power in accessing data, and although it helped solve an important case, there is still a lot of progress to be made in the court system involving personal devices. As technology continues to evolve, it is essential that our laws and standards in law continue to develop as well.

  21. Jason Chrusz February 4, 2018 at 12:52 pm #

    This is an interesting predicament dealing with the Bill of Rights itself. I find myself thinking back to the goal of the Constitution itself, to protect the people from the government. With that view (and keeping personal biases out), I always sided with the people in regards to what is seen as acceptable search and seizure that does not violate the fourth amendment. Through the exponential growth of technology throughout the United States and world, the common means of communication amongst the people has also changed, and I believe that the Amendments should also adapt to encompass what the people really need. For the most part that has occurred since the beginning of the 21st century.
    However, I understand the inverse relationship that privacy and security seem to have in our society. With a decrease in privacy there is an increase in security amongst the people that is used to prevent atrocities throughout the world and save human lives. Aside from the large scale terror attacks, technology is used every day to wreak havoc throughout the world with an increase in hacker groups and cyber warfare. Sometimes it takes very drastic methods to catch the worst offenders. That alone I see as an acceptable trade-off. Until the day comes when terror can be all but a faded memory, privacy right will succumb to increasing pressure from the people seeking protection. Unfortunately, this is a generational problem. We’re likely more towards the beginning than the end.

    “After ISIS/Cubs of the Caliphate.” Vice, season 5, episode 29, HBO, 13 Oct. 2017 https://play.hbogo.com/episode/urn:hbo:episode:GWdzTlwdiapWjtwEAAAIX

  22. Greg Mattessich February 8, 2018 at 12:58 am #

    In the digital age, the internet, as it was once heralded as a tool for liberation and democracy, has effectively turned into an unprecedented mass discriminant tool for surveillance. There is a common sentiment in this debate, in that only the people who commit crimes (take for example, the carpenter case) have a real reason to hide their information. This categorically divides people into two categories: good and bad people. The supposed “good” people, who are comfortable with this idea, hold the mindset that they are willing to turn over their privacy to the government (whom, constitutionally, they shouldn’t be able to) because their life is as normal and uninteresting as the next person and has nothing incriminating against them.

    Yet, to good people, privacy does matter. People regularly put passwords on their phones and lock their doors. People seem to instinctively understand that privacy does in fact matter. People are social creatures, but they need a safe haven to hide information that may not necessarily be a criminal charge. When people feel like they’re being watched or monitored, their behavior changes dramatically. It is merely a fact of science and psychology at this point. It changes their behavior dramatically; done so not by the byproduct of their own agency but under the expectations of society.

    This advent of technology makes me uncomfortable, it is much like George Orwell’s 1984. Big corporations are already using data-driven technology to create personalized ads. With the lack of privacy, we allow the essence of human freedom to be severely crippled.

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