August 24, 2018
“Seismic Shifts in Digital Technology”
Quick lessons in history and current events are in order.
- Third Party Doctrine is a legal theory which says: If a person voluntarily gives information to third parties (banks, phone companies, ISPs, etc), that person has “no reasonable expectation of privacy.” This doctrine has been solidified throughout a string of Supreme Court cases going back over 40 years.
- Third Party Doctrine enabled our government to obtain some information about us from third parties without a search warrant or probable cause (both of which would otherwise be required, by the fourth amendment).
- Carpenter v. United States, decided in June of this year, has reversed this doctrine.
- Specifically at issue: May the government access historical cellphone location records without probable cause and a search warrant? The court said, “no.”
- What is not yet clear is: How does this affect the sharing or selling of real-time customer location data by mobile providers? People other than the government are interested in where exactly you and I are currently located. Are our mobile providers allowed to sell them that information?
- News flash: Our mobile providers have already been selling this location information.
- On May 17th, KrebsOnSecurity broke this scandal: a website with easy-access real-time location data for almost any phone number. That website has since been shut down, but what happens next? This story is not yet finished . . .