Local analyst weighs in on SCOTUS taking cell phone location case

BUFFALO, N.Y.(WIVB)- Monday, the Supreme Court announced it’s taking on a new case; Carpenter v. United States

“They’re getting a lot of requests from lower courts. A lot of federal courts, even some state courts are looking at that issue,” said local attorney Barry Covert.

That issue, is how private our devices deserve to be.

The original 2011 case from Michigan relied on location records from a cell company without a warrant. Those records helped the prosecution link Timothy Carpenter to the location of a robbery.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Carpenter, the case would not only be retried, but moving forward law enforcement would need warrants to search cell location records. They wouldn’t need your device in hand to do it.

Past Supreme Court cases have ruled against claimants like Carpenter.

“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,” Covert explained.

He pointed out those cases were before phones carried the personal information they do now.

Here in New York, legislators are considering approving a device for law enforcement to crack down on distracted driving.

By connecting to a phone, it would show if any apps were open during the time of accident, and for how long.

According to the app developers, no personal information would be gathered.

“It’s gathering all of your information. Then it’s filtering out allegedly only the relevant information that they want. You can always change filters,” Covert said.

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