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August 15, 2017

Apple and Other Companies File Brief Arguing Against ‘Rigid Analog-Era’ Fourth Amendment Rules

by John_A

Apple, Twitter, Snap, Facebook, Microsoft, and a collection of other technology companies have filed a legal brief this week, aimed at the Fourth Amendment and its “rigid analog-era” protections that lag behind protecting users in the modern age (via Reuters).

The brief was filed in regards to the case Carpenter v. United States, which is a Supreme Court case focusing on the warrantless search and seizure of historical smartphone records, and whether or not such data collection by the government is prohibited by the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizures.

Carpenter v. United States specifically ties to smartphone data held by a third party — or any company that has access and can store personal user data — and includes information revealing the “location and movements” of the user over 127 days.

With the new filing, which is in support of neither party, the companies state that customers should not be “forced to relinquish Fourth Amendment protections” against intrusion by the government, simply because they choose to use modern technology.

“To resolve this case, the Court should forgo reliance on outmoded rules that make little sense when applied in the digital context. In particular, the third-party doctrine and the content/non-content distinction should not operate to categorically foreclose Fourth Amendment protection; instead, Fourth Amendment law should favor a more flexible approach that assess reasonable expectations of privacy in light of new and evolving technologies and the highly sensitive data they implicate.”

Other companies included in the brief included Airbnb, Google, and Dropbox. The case in question dates back to 2011, when Timothy Carpenter was convicted on robbery charges after investigators uncovered smartphone data with his past location information without a warrant. The Supreme Court agreed to review the case in June 2017, and it’s now on the Court’s term docket for October 2017.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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