Not to get all originalist, but isn’t “government collecting evidence at random based on vague suspicion” exactly the scenario that the Framers of the Bill of Rights feared? Liberals — or at least liberals outside the White House — generally agree on this. Even conservatives are on board with this one. However, there is an alternative view. It may be too clever by half, but maybe the collection of phone data wasn’t really a search or seizure? Maybe it’s a “reasonable” search?
Some very smart people try to make the case that gobbling up phone data on all of us isn’t really a constitutional case. Let’s see if they convince you…
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.
* SeaWorld lost its appeal. Apparently it’s not safe to lock murderous animals in a small pool and have people swim with them. [Blog of the Legal Times]
* Do you know what “Heartbleed” is? If the answer is no, you need to click on this immediately for the 10 things every lawyer needs to know about the latest computer security crisis. [Versus Texas]
* We’ve been hearing about declining law school applications, now let’s look at new projections of law school graduates. [The Faculty Lounge]
* Professor Orin Kerr explains that it might be time for courts to adopt computer-specific Fourth Amendment rules. Adapting 18th Century thinking to meet modern times? That’s crazy talk. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]
* These guys must be the best Grand Theft Auto players ever. [Legal Juice]
* Being nice is a strength rather than a weakness. I’m incredulous. [Katz Justice]
* Justice Antonin Scalia isn’t quite ready to publicly weigh in on whether computer data is considered a protected “effect” under the Fourth Amendment. “[T]hat may well come up [before the Supreme Court],” he says. Thanks NSA. [Business Insider]
* “[I]t doesn’t take many bad apples in a barrel to cause a stink.” No matter how hard Biglaw firms try to keep their confidential information locked down, someone’s going trade on it. It looks like STB is learning that the hard way. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
* The day after Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage was struck down by Judge Bernard Friedman, couples who rushed to marry were met with some serious Sixth Circuit sadness. Way to stay and spoil all of the celebrations, judges. [New York Times]
* “We’re not the Cleveland Browns,” says one of Case Western Law’s interim co-deans. With that kind of a glowing endorsement, we don’t see how this law school could possibly fail. [Crain's Cleveland Business]
* Rutgers Law-Newark has a new low-bono fellowship program “believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.” Some other law schools might have a bone to pick about that statement. [New Jersey Star-Ledger]
“What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection . . . But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected.”
‘I do. I want to be seen. I want proof I existed [ . . . ] Most people do. Most people would trade everything they know, everyone they know — they’d trade it all to know they’ve been seen, and acknowledged, that they might even be remembered. We all know we die. We all know the world is too big for us to be significant. So all we have is the hope of being seen, or heard, even for a moment.”
The Circle (affiliate link), the latest novel by Dave Eggers, is a work of speculative fiction centering on a hypothetical technology company called the Circle. Eggers sets the story on a glossy, mythical Silicon-Valley internet campus that unapologetically resembles some famous not-so-mythical ones. At the start of the tale, the Circle has recently overtaken Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Its TruYou technology has created unified accounts for its users’ online presences, linking all social media profiles and bank information, tying it to users’ actual offline identities. TruYou is a convenience, a means of better connecting online, but it also changes the tenor of Internet conversation. Since TruYou eliminates pseudonyms and anonymous activity, it also restores real-life accountability to online comments and interactions. People are nicer. Shopping is easier. Communicating is quicker. People send “zings.” They respond with “smiles” or “frowns.” The reader need not decode much in order to recognize this world….
[T]he city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner. In their zeal to defend a policy that they believe to be effective, they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of targeting “the right people” is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the United States Constitution.
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.
Last week, I tested out a longer-form article picking up other stories from the week and stuff that got overlooked and put together a sort of “week in review.” Folks seemed to like it according to our handy-dandy analytics, so we’re trying it again to see if it was just a fluke of the busiest legal news week of the year.
So here are three bits of legal news from the holiday-shortened week that was, including the George Zimmerman trial’s technical difficulties, a lot of butthurt FISA judges, and… wait, is that an honest to God Third Amendment case?!?
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.