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The Champion

June 2018 , Page 48 

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Carpenter v. United States and the Future Fourth Amendment

By Michael Price

The Supreme Court’s recent opinion in Carpenter v. United States1 has set a course for rethinking Fourth Amendment rights in the digital age. It is the third bright star in the last seven years, marking a welcome and long overdue departure from the so-called “third-party doctrine” that has limited privacy rights for the last four decades. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that police must usually get a warrant to access historical “cell site location information” (CSLI) — geographic data held by a cellphone service provider about where a device has connected to its network. It is a major win for privacy rights and it shines the way forward for future Fourth Amendment challenges: digital is different.

The question becomes, different how? And how far might Carpenter extend?

The case involves 127 days’ worth of Timothy Carpenter’s historical CSLI, obtained without a warrant or probable cause, and used to convict him for a string of robberies. On one level, the Court’s decision to require a

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