Fourth Amendment Third Party Doctrine Cell Phone and Internet Privacy

The Third-Party Doctrine:Fading Fourth Amendment Protection in a Modern, Technologically Advanced Society From the NSA leaks made by Edward Snowden to the FBI’s demand for Apple to provide backdoor access to the San Bernardino shooter’s IPhone, the issues of government surveillance and digital privacy have been divisive and hotly-contested as of late. Apart from issues involving national security, there is one question that many current criminal defense attorneys may face in everyday practice: Is the government required to obtain a warrant for an individual’s cellphone records to track the defendant’s past locations when conducting a criminal investigation? Unfortunately, and perhaps not surprisingly, the answer is no in some jurisdictions. According to the recent majority opinion in United States v. Graham […]

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Stingray Cell Site Simulator and Fourth Amendment Invasion of Privacy

Not the Sting You Expected – Cell Phone Privacy Everyone knows what a stingray is and what it can do (R.I.P. Steve Irwin). Or at least they think they do. But this StingRay doesn’t live in the ocean, and it doesn’t respect the Fourth Amendment right to privacy from unreasonable search and seizure. You might find it wreaking havoc in your next federal criminal case. What is a stingray device? For over 20 years, devices that mimic cell phone towers (cell site simulator) have been employed by law enforcement to investigate and locate criminals. These devices were originally manufactured by a defense contractor called Harris Corporation with the trade name of StingRay, but the term has become synonymous with cell […]

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Cell Phone Search without a Warrant

Police Don’t Have Unbridled Discretion to Search Cell Phones The appellant was arrested on a Class C ticket. His cell phone was in his “property” at the jail. A police officer, without a warrant, went to the jail and retrieved the cell phone. The officer examined the contents of the phone, without getting a warrant. A photograph was contained on the cell phone that depicted a person urinating in a school bathroom. Based on this photo, the officer charged the owner of the phone with the state jail felony offense of “Improper Photography.” The police officer and the State maintained that an inmate does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in any of the inmate’s property that is in […]

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