Landmark case could affect every cell phone user

By Sara Israelsen-Hartley, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Anyone carrying a cellphone could be tracked by the government without their knowledge and without permission — which is why legal scholars are encouraging the Supreme Court to set a few more rules regarding privacy in a digital age.

A case argued Wednesday before the high court, Carpenter v. United States, is a “once-in-a-generation” case, asking whether it was constitutional for law enforcement to research the location of a suspected armed robber for 127 days through cellphone tower data without a warrant.

The case brings up questions about expectations of privacy for personal data handled by third parties, how police can access that data, and what it means to be searched — questions that some experts worry are beyond the power of digitally naive case law to answer, including the long-standing Fourth Amendment, which protects people from unreasonable government search and seizure.

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