In 2011, the FBI obtained several months’ worth of Timothy Carpenter’s cellphone location records, without a warrant, after suspecting that he was involved in criminal activity. These records revealed nearly 13,000 locations he had visited, providing law enforcement with sensitive information Carpenter considered private.
Law enforcement had the benefit of U.S. Supreme Court precedent on its side in suggesting that no warrant was needed. The “third-party doctrine,” as it’s called, was created in the 1970s, when the court previously determined that “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.”
This questionable case law applied to Mr. Carpenter. With the legal assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union, he brought his case to the nation’s highest court and he prevailed. In a 5-4 ruling, the majority of justices held in 2018 that Fourth Amendment protections apply to cellphone location records. With this new precedent in place, police must now obtain a warrant before obtaining the whereabouts of your mobile device.
This is a great victory, albeit a small one. Now, our legislature must take proactive steps to protect our privacy.
Sign the letter and encourage Nevada lawmakers to protect our right to privacy!