Big Brother wants more!
If the police arrest you, do they need a warrant to rifle through your cellphone? Courts have been split on the question. Last week the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to resolve the issue and rule that the Fourth Amendment allows warrantless cellphone searches.
In 2007, the police arrested a Massachusetts man who appeared to be selling crack cocaine from his car. The cops seized his cellphone and noticed that it was receiving calls from “My House.” They opened the phone to determine the number for “My House.” That led them to the man’s home, where the police found drugs, cash and guns.
July 30th (NY Times): In a significant victory for law enforcement, a federal appeals court on Tuesday said that government authorities could extract historical location data directly from telecommunications carriers without a search warrant.
The closely watched case, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, is the first ruling that squarely addresses the constitutionality of warrantless searches of historical location data stored by cellphone service providers. Ruling 2 to 1, the court said a warrantless search was “not per se unconstitutional” because location data was “clearly a business record” and therefore not protected by the Fourth Amendment.
The Leftist ACLU: “This decision is a big deal,” said Catherine Crump, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union. “It’s a big deal and a big blow to Americans’ privacy rights.”
You have no privacy from Big Brother. He sees all, he knows all. You cannot escape him. He knows what you are thinking. And it better not be Thoughtcrimes citizens…
The defendant was convicted, but on appeal he argued that accessing the information on his cellphone without a warrant violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Earlier this year, the First Circuit Court of Appeals accepted the man’s argument, ruling that the police should have gotten a warrant before accessing any information on the man’s phone.
The Obama Administration disagrees. In a petition filed earlier this month asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, the government argues that the First Circuit’s ruling conflicts with the rulings of several other appeals courts, as well as with earlier Supreme Court cases. Those earlier cases have given the police broad discretion to search possessions on the person of an arrested suspect, including notebooks, calendars and pagers. The government contends that a cellphone is no different than any other object a suspect might be carrying.
But as the storage capacity of cellphones rises, that position could become harder to defend. Our smart phones increasingly contain everything about our digital lives: our e-mails, text messages, photographs, browser histories and more. It would be troubling if the police had the power to get all that information with no warrant merely by arresting a suspect.
On the other hand, the Massachusetts case involves a primitive flip-phone, (Remember in Star Trek when that was cool and “futuristic”?) which could make this a bad test case. The specific phone involved in this 2007 incident likely didn’t have the wealth of information we store on more modern cellphones. It’s arguably more analogous to the address books and pagers the courts have already said the police can search. So, as Orin Kerr points out, if the Supreme Court ruled on the case, it would be making a decision based on “facts that are atypical now and are getting more outdated every passing month.” (WP)
The super extreme Leftists at Daily Kos:
In the wake of the twin revelations about the National Security Agency’s dragnet of phone calls and online activity, polling suggests that a majority of Americans apparently remain comfortable with their civil liberties being compromised in the cause of preventing terror attacks. Probably just as predictable, a survey from Pew Research showed a fair amount of partisan hypocrisy, as Democratic and Republican opinions of NSA domestic surveillance changed dramatically from 2006 to 2013 when George W. Bush was replaced by Barack Obama in the White House.
But largely overlooked in the conventional wisdom is a vital point. That is, while the Obama administration’s regime of NSA electronic surveillance of Americans may or not be illegal, there is little question that President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping broke the law.
Bush Derangement Syndrome. Our guy quadruples the program and expands its like nobody ever conceived, but at least that the law. Bush, on the other hand…Oh god the unhinged derangement of partisanship.
In 2005 The New York Times was complaining about 500 Americans being tapped by Bush.
But The NSA under Obama has violated it Thousands and Thousands of times, routinely and with complete abandon.
Wow, now that’s cognitive dissonance and Orwellian at it’s best.