The United States Supreme Court handed down a big win for electronic data privacy in Riley v. California.
And while we should all be pleased with the Court’s unanimous decision, we should also be mindful of the reality that our electronic communications and data remain extremely vulnerable.
It’s rare for the Court to issue such a sweeping vindication of our constitutional rights. But, thankfully, in this case they did. They’ve put much needed life back into the Fourth Amendment and the protection the Founders intended.
Here is the key language from the Court’s opinion:
“Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans “the privacies of life.” The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant.”
That’s the good news.
Here’s the bad.
There are still many ways that the government can obtain your personal communications without a warrant.
This week, ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest, updated “No Warrant, No Problem: How the Government Can Get Your Digital Data.”
ProPublica then provides a chart of “Stuff They Can Get,” “How They Get It,” and “What the Law Says.” The categories include: Phone Records, Location Data, IP Addresses, Email, Email Drafts, Text Messages, Cloud Data, and Social Media.
I highly recommend that you take a look at the information provided by ProPublica. In this day and age, it’s important to know just how vulnerable your electronic communications are to government seizure.
I’d like to hear what you have to say. What do you think of this recent Supreme Court victory? Window dressing or significant victory?
Chris, the Privacy Guy
Freedom Writers Publishing
1815 Central Park Dr. #358
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487