United States v. Carpenter

Digital Privacy Goes to the Supreme Court

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In 2011, FBI agents in Detroit obtained several months’ worth of location records from cellphone companies for suspects in a robbery investigation — all without a warrant. They were able to do so because of an outdated legal theory called the “third-party doctrine” that has been used by law enforcement to access personal data without ever having to demonstrate probable cause to a judge.

Timothy Carpenter, represented by the ACLU, argues that the government violated his Fourth Amendment rights when it obtained his location records without a warrant. The court’s decision in the case will also have implications for the extent of the Constitution’s protections against warrantless search and seizure of much of the private data collected and stored by current technologies.







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