The Supreme Court and Electronic Privacy

The Story:

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments November 29 on a constitutional controversy that could determine whether the government is empowered to track the movements of private citizens for months at a time without a warrant.

Facts of the Case:

A group of men committed a string of armed robberies. In pursuit of this gang, the U.S. government obtained cell phone records from MetroPCS and Sprint under the Stored Communications Act. Though that act requires the government show reasonable suspicion, it doesn’t require the “probable cause” that would have been necessary for a search warrant.

The Thing to Know:

The government’s attorney’s faced tough questioning Wednesday. Justice Sotomayor said, “most Americans … want to avoid the concept that government will be able to see and locate anywhere you are at any point in time.” She asked a deputy solicitor general whether “you really believe … the government will be able to do that without probable cause and a warrant?”

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