Supreme Court Takes Case on Cell Phone Privacy

The United States Supreme Court recently announced that they will be taking on a case dealing with cell phone privacy. The case, Carpenter v. United States, was originally tried in Michigan in 2011 and relied on cell phone company location records obtained without a warrant. Constitutional attorney Barry Covert spoke to WIVB about the case and what the Supreme Court’s decision could mean. The full story is available on the WIVB website.

Rulings against similar claimants

According to WIVB, the location records obtained in the original case helped the prosecution link Timothy Carpenter to the location of a robbery. If the Supreme Court rules in Carpenter’s favor, the case would be retried and law enforcement would be required to obtain warrants to search cell location records from now on. In the past, however, the Supreme Court has ruled against similar claimants.

Mr. Covert explained to WIVB that “those Supreme Court cases seem to indicate that we don’t have an expectation of privacy in where our phone is located because we know that the carrier collects that information and, therefore, we know that a third party had that.” He went on to say that the cases that have previously been decided on took place before people used cell phones to carry the amount of personal information that they are used for today.

Cell phone privacy and distracted driving

In conjunction with this Supreme Court case, there is a legislative initiative in New York to approve a device that allows law enforcement to be more vigilant about distracted driving. WIVB reports that, when this device is connected to a phone, it can show if any apps were open at the time of the accident and how long they had been open for. App developers claim that no personal information would be taken. “It’s gathering all of your information,” Mr. Covert said. “Then, it’s filtering out allegedly only the relevant information that they want. You can always change filters.”

About Barry N. Covert

Mr. Covert is a senior partner in Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area. He is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; driving while intoxicated; constitutional law, including First Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense. Mr. Covert frequently provides legal analysis for WGRZ and other media outlets.