Cell Phones

Ed note: This post originally appeared on Peter S. Vogel’s Internet, Information Technology & e-Discovery Blog.

Privacy issues have been highlighted by a recent Newsweek report that “mysterious devices sprinkled across America—many of them on military bases—that connect to your phone by mimicking cell phone towers and sucking up your data“ and an earlier Florida Today report that “[l]ocal and state police, from Florida to Alaska, are buying Stingrays with federal grants aimed at protecting cities from terror attacks, but using them for far broader police work” led the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to intervene in a lawsuit to learn more about Stingrays.

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cellphones

The United States Supreme Court has tackled the issue of cell phone privacy and ruled that data is different from other forms of technology. In late June, the Supreme Court issued an opinion: those of David Riley, a California man whose smartphone police officers searched, and Brima Wurie, a Massachusetts man who was carrying an older “flip phone” when he was arrested.2 The Riley and Wurie cases presented a straightforward, common question: “whether the police may, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested.”3 In Riley, police stopped the defendant for driving with an expired registration and discovered that his license had been suspended.4 After arresting Riley and impounding his vehicle at the police station, loaded firearms were discovered during a routine inventory search of Riley’s car. The police used this discovery as motivation to rummage through the defendant’s cell phone data, where they found photos and videos potentially linking him to gang activity, including a shooting for which he was later charged. In Wurie, the defendant was arrested on suspicion of selling drugs. At the police station, two cell phones were seized from Wurie. One of the phones, an antiquated “flip phone,” received repeated calls from a number identified as “my house.” After accessing the call history and phone directory, the police were able to identify the caller’s phone number and address. The address did, in fact, turn out to be Wurie’s house, from which they seized illegal drugs, a firearm, and cash attributed to the defendant. In neither case did police obtain a warrant before searching the phones.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s in Your Wallet? Who Cares—What’s in Your Cell Phone Is More Important!”

God Hates You, Buffalo

There is a scene in the film Buffalo ’66 in which Christina Ricci’s character tap dances at a bowling alley. She’s wearing a very short lilac dress to go along with her tap shoes and she begins her dance slowly. She ends it slowly too. The whole thing is slow, a Thorazine shuffle committed to celluloid by one of this country’s truly weird film directors. The scene prompted Roger Ebert to remark, “What’s this scene doing in “Buffalo ’66″? Maybe Gallo didn’t have any other movie he could put it in.” What’s this paragraph doing on Above the Law?

This week, the Buffalo Bills managed to be at the center of the sporting universe for the first time since Frank Wycheck lofted that perfectly tight spiral into the arms of Kevin Dyson. Before that, it was the 4 Super Bowl defeats. The point here, if there ever is one, is that the Bills are destined to occupy our collective conscious every few years as the butt of some cosmic joke we have yet to divine the meaning of. This week, the Bills carry on their illustrious history as God’s punchline, closing one lawsuit and preparing for another.

Let’s talk text messages and vagina fungus.

Let’s talk sports…

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The ongoing court battle over warrantless cell phone location tracking continues and the latest decision is another setback for the Fourth Amendment. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy over their location data. The decision states that location data is a “business record” created by private companies with the implicit consent of cell phone users and therefore are not subject to privacy protections.

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Howard Dean

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the legal wrangling: Eric Holder’s use of the VRA’s “bail in” provision to circumvent the SCOTUS ruling in Shelby may prove to be trouble. [National Law Journal]

* The Fifth Circuit upheld warrantless cellphone tracking yesterday, noting that it was “not per se unconstitutional.” We suppose that a per se victory for law enforcement is better than nothing. [New York Times]

* The pretty people at Davis Polk are fighting a $1.4 million suit over a headhunter’s fee with some pretty ugly words, alleging that the filing “fails both as a matter of law and common sense.” [Am Law Daily]

* Howard Dean is rather annoyed that he’s had to go on the defensive about his work for McKenna Long & Aldridge after railing against Obamacare. Ideally, he’d just like to scream and shout about it. [TIME]

* The ABA is concerned about Florida A&M, and sent a second warning about the school’s imminent failure to meet accreditation standards. Well, I’ll be damned, the ABA actually cares. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is suing to prevent a clerk from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. A silly little lawsuit won’t stop this guy from doing what he thinks is right. [Legal Intelligencer]

[UPDATE (9/5/2013, 11:30 p.m.): The charges discussed in this story have been expunged.]

If I may be so bold, I have an idea for a new class to be taught at UVA School of Law. It would be called “Use Your Words,” and it would go over the proper way for lawyers and law students to address police officers.

I’d teach the class at 2:00 a.m. That way the students could get in the habit of addressing people with respect even while they are intoxicated.

They could use the training. A couple of years ago, a UVA law student found herself accused of spitting on the police after a night of drinking (although the charges were ultimately dropped). More recently, a UVA Law alum and DLA Piper partner, Laura Flippin, did use her words about her own intoxication — she just allegedly didn’t use truthful ones, while under oath.

Today, we’ve got another UVA law student who allegedly didn’t use her words with the police; instead, she used her phone. No, not in the way you’re thinking….

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