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SCOTUS tackles digital privacy in landmark case involving armed robberies and cell phone tracking




A woman checks her cell phone as she waits in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court to view a hearing November 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Carpenter v. United States today on whether prosecutors violated the Fourth Amendment by collecting a criminal suspect's cellphone location and movement data without a warrant.
A woman checks her cell phone as she waits in line to enter the U.S. Supreme Court to view a hearing November 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Carpenter v. United States today on whether prosecutors violated the Fourth Amendment by collecting a criminal suspect's cellphone location and movement data without a warrant.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

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What began as a string of armed robberies at Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in Michigan and Ohio has evolved into what many legal scholars are saying will be a landmark case involving digital privacy and the ability of government agencies to access data tracked by mobile phones.

Oral arguments in Carpenter v. United States were heard this morning at the High Court. The case involves Timothy Ivory Carpenter, said to be the brains behind the string of robberies and a lookout during the commission of the crimes. Prosecutors used months of location tracking data from cell phone records that put Carpenter nearby during the time of the robberies. He was convicted and got 116 years in prison.

Mr. Carpenter’s lawyers and privacy advocates say that police violated the Fourth Amendment when they collected the data law enforcement should need a warrant if they want more than 24 hours of location data from cell phone companies.

Guests:

Michael Price, senior counsel for the Liberty and National Security Program with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law; he was at the oral arguments for Carpenter v. United States of America Wednesday morning in Washington D.C.

Larry Rosenthal, professor of law at Chapman University and a former federal prosecutor