If you have a cellphone, police can use it to track your location any time they want without a warrant.
That’s the opinion of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, supporting earlier rulings by two other appeals courts.
According to the ruling, cell phone users can expect no Fourth Amendment protection regarding their records because the cell phone company already keeps that information for its own use. This data “clearly is a business record,” the court said, and police do not even require probable cause to request it.
“The cell service provider collects and stores historical cell site data for its own business purposes … the government merely comes in after the fact and asks a provider to turn over records the provider has already created,” the written ruling says.
The court also notes that people are not required by the government to have cell phones, but choose voluntarily to use them.
In other words, you’re a sucker if you buy a cell phone, and it’s just tough patootie if the cops use it to find you.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation called the ruling misguided: “The court did not address whether people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their movements and made clear its decision only concerned obtaining historical cell site records when a user makes or ends a phone call.”
The ACLU was also critical of the decision, saying in a release, “Given the sensitivity of these facts, law enforcement agents should have to demonstrate to a judge that they have a good reason to believe that they will turn up evidence of wrongdoing before gaining access to information that can paint a detailed picture of where a person has been over time.”
The Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on requiring warrants for cellphone searches, but one aspect of the Patriot Act allows law enforcement great latitude in tracking suspects who switch cellphones, and the Department of Justice has firmly opposed requiring warrants to follow cellphone users.
Government has been on a years-long quest to eliminate or at least restrict Fourth Amendment protections. Every time you hear some government type or left-winger talk about a “living Constitution” that needs to change with the times, that’s just code for getting rid of your rights.
Our country is in the throes of death by a thousand cuts. We cannot any longer afford the luxury of picking and choosing which government abuses of power “seem reasonable,” no matter how advocates couch them.
Ordinary people need to begin to understand what the long term goal is: the transformation of our nation into a fascist/communist police state. Those who can see where the country is headed must make every effort to educate others.