Privacy Rights Forfeited On Cell Phones

4th Circuit rules location data not protected by 4th Amndment since users willfully share their location.

4th Circuit rules location data not protected by 4th Amndment since users willfully share their location.

Facebook, Twitter and other posts don’t enjoy 4th Amendment protection

In a major ruling in the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, the majority justices ruled certain privacy rights forfeited. The case revolved around the issue of location services. The majority held that mobile phone users know that carriers are using their location when the user is actively online. The act of sharing their location freely with the cellular carrier means that no warrant is required by law enforcement to acquire such information from the carrier. This is a major blow to privacy advocates.

The entire circuit court ruled 12-3 to overturn a previous decision in the case. Whether or not the ruling gets appealed to the Supreme Court is uncertain. Earlier in the year the court refused to hear an appeal in a similar case before the 6th Circuit. Many suspect it will be highly unlikely for this court to hear such an appeal while Justice Scalia’s seat remains unfilled.

Here is an excerpt from the Rueters reporting of the judge’s rational for the ruling.

” Writing for the majority, Judge Diana Motz said obtaining cell-site information did not violate the protection against unreasonable searches found in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because cellphone users are generally aware that they are voluntarily sharing such data with their provider.

“Anyone who has stepped outside to ‘get a signal,’ or has warned a caller of a potential loss of service before entering an elevator, understands, on some level, that location matters,” Motz wrote.”

You can read the full article here.

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