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Warrantless cell phone snooping ruled unconstitutional by a Texan judge

Posted: , by Daniel P.

Warrantless cell phone snooping ruled unconstitutional by a Texan judge
Law enforcement agencies had some wind in their sails recently when an attempt to forbid them from freely snooping around on cell phones was vetoed in California. Warrantless searches have been previously shot down in other states, too.

Now the latest development is that a US District Court Judge in Texas has ruled it "unconstitutional" to try and intersect or gain access to things like contacts, times of calls and so on, from someone's mobile phone without a warrant.

This is all considered private data by the US Constitution, and should be protected from obtaining it willy-nilly from everyone with a whiff of a suspect, was written in the one-pager with which the judge provided the argumentation.

A fairly archaic law from 1986 is governing cell phone and email records, and the world of technology has moved significantly from then. It allows government agencies to freely roam through your phone records without a warrant now, but a lot of industry titans, like Microsoft and Google, are lobbying for changing that, and the courts are evidently nudging this issue in the right direction as well.

source: WSJ

11 Comments
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posted on 18 Nov 2011, 06:34 2

1. snowgator (Posts: 3187; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Slowly, yes, there is hope. Just do not understand how there is even a debate. At what point did privacy become so unimportant to us we allow this to even be up for question?

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 06:41 2

2. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


thank god. i was starting to give up hope that the constitution even existed anymore.

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 07:19 3

4. vantenkiest (Posts: 308; Member since: 20 Apr 2011)


whats the constitution.. oh yeah its that ability stat in D&D lols

sigh its taken so much and so long to get to this point..

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 07:12

3. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5529; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


@remixfa - don't give up hope, the U.S. Constitution may yet get sundered. There is still the appellate path to the Supremes. At best, there is a 50-50 chance the District Court't decision gets upheld by the Supremes.

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 09:18

8. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


wow, way to bring me down.. thanks droid.. lol

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 07:25

5. axed97 (Posts: 16; Member since: 19 Aug 2011)


im kind of on the fence with this issue yes people want privacy and it is important to them i understand that but again o the other hand the only people who will be using those laws will be the people who have something to hide im not a lawer but i would think people convicted of a felony should be exempt form this law but thats my opinion

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 08:38 2

7. Bigbluetundra (Posts: 45; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)


While most people do have something to hide (and there is nothing wrong with that), people are innocent until proven guilty. All that the judges that put this down are saying is, if LE wants to look into somebody's private life, they should at least be doing the work of obtaining a warrant first. Otherwise, just look at red light cameras in IL and how many accidents they've caused. As soon as thet took the need for policework out and replaced them with a blanket technology it took away all aspects of driver safety and replaced it with a virtual ATM for municipalities. While cameras are not cell phones, the same concept translates here.

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 09:36

9. superguy (Posts: 269; Member since: 15 Jul 2011)


It's not about having anything to hide but it's about whether most of that is any of their damn business or not. I'm a very open person with friends and family, but I don't go showing my business to anyone that asks.

If someone asks you how often you have sex with your significant other and if you get kinky, do you answer or tell them it's none of their business? If you answer the latter, by your argument, there must be something to hide and it's worth investigating.

You should read Daniel Solove's essay titled "'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy". It's a great read.

If there's a reason to probe into someone's life, then the cops can ask a judge to review the request and get a warrant. We have this thing called the 4th amendment. The government needs to respect that.

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 08:12 1

6. messiah (Posts: 433; Member since: 19 Feb 2010)


Any judge, lawyer or congressman that is in favour of sniffing through cellphones must remember, that that would include their cellphones. And nine of them are above suspicion.

Close the doors now protect us from privacy invasion. Protect yourself as well.

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 11:21

11. messiah (Posts: 433; Member since: 19 Feb 2010)


*none

posted on 18 Nov 2011, 11:19

10. The_Miz (Posts: 1496; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)


It's just like unwanted search - I don't have to consent to an officer checking my car or my phone, which I have done so before.

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