Archive for Chief Justice Roberts

The Supreme Court Decision on Cell Phone Tracking

Posted in Carpenter vs the United States, FISA courts, Inalienable Rights, Liberty, Right to Privacy, United States Supreme Court with tags , , , , , on June 30, 2018 by authorcarloscardoso

cell phone tower

The recent decision in Carpenter vs the United States by a 5-4 margin was a slim victory for privacy and liberty and by more than just the vote. The majority opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts was grounded in common sense but very limited in scope. He wrote that cell phones were virtually an indispensable way of life and some people are required by their occupation to carry them 24/7 and he’s right. He also noted that 5 years of historical data held by a third party couldn’t be gathered without a warrant because it had to meet the expectation of probable cause needed to search a person’s movement over that length of time without infringing on our reasonable expectation to privacy.
There were three dissenting opinions written in response with Justice Gorsuch writing his own opinion alone without concurrence. This is even more interesting in that Gorsuch wrote that had Carpenter argued that the cell-site location information records were his property he would have concurred with the majority. This simple distinction was pivotal in the decision-making process of all nine Supreme Court Justices. The key word here was property in the dissents written by Justice Kennedy with Justices Thomas and Alito as well as the other written by Justice Alito with Justice Thomas all hinged on the concept of ownership of the cell-site location information the expectation to privacy in the dissenting opinions were lost due to the issue that ownership of those records were held by the carriers of which AT&T was the largest.
Americans have by the nature of the internet and wi-fi essentially given away our reasonable right to privacy in order to avail ourselves of the convenience these innovations have brought to the world. This is something that we as consumers must rally around. We must demand that any information shared with a provider of any service such as these we consent only to being used to our benefit if we choose but any tracking of our movements is an infringement on our right to privacy and our thoughts and conversations are by right intellectual property and should be protected as such.
Therefore, we as Americans must demand that our use of modern conveniences and as stated before in some cases not always by choice cannot and will not be used to track anyone without their consent or without a warrant in a court of law where both sides have an advocate. This would nullify the FISA courts which are unconstitutional since it is ex parte, there is a prosecutor without a defense lawyer or even an impartial advocate. It is a one-sided presentation which has been shown can be manipulated through the willful avoiding of disculpatory evidence by the prosecutor.
The American people must insist that this tracking of our movements is by its very nature our individual property. Law enforcement agencies do not have the right to track any citizen for any reason without a warrant which was the focus of this case. Therefore this decision pointed out a fatal flaw for anyone with a cell phone, the wireless and wi-fi providers track our every movement with a date and time stamp and save it for 5 years. The time is unreasonably long and records of our movement are by nature our reasonable expectation of individual privacy and rightful property.
We need to have privacy agreements for cell phone, tablets, computer, websites, apps and wi-fi companies to clearly state that the records of our movements remain our individual property as we consent to the use of their cell towers to use their products and services. The time of record retention is arbitrary and too long. I believe that there is no reason for those records to be maintained in the manner that they are for any length of time. The mere carrying of some devices crucial to Americans does not mean I or you willfully surrender our rights to the expectation of privacy and allow our movements to be monitored and owned by anyone but the individual.
This decision did not place any limitation on government agencies nor does it involve them in the solution. I don’t seek government legislation, regulation or adjudication to solve this dilemma. We the American people who pay for our internet, cell phones and other electronic devices must demand from our government and the providers that our individual rights are not for sale and non-negotiable. The tracking, monitoring and all other intrusions on our inalienable right to privacy are intolerable and must end now. This case shows how tenuous our liberties are to a government that we clearly currently don’t own.

Here is the link to the decision of Carpenter vs the United States with the majority and dissenting opinions.

Click to access 16-402_h315.pdf