Today, in a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that the government’s acquisition of information regarding an individual’s location based on a cell phone record amounts to a Fourth Amendment search and generally requires a warrant.  In Carpenter v. United States, the government obtained nearly 13,000 location points on Carpenter’s movements over a 127-day period from Carpenter’s wireless carrier under the Stored Communications Act (SCA).  The standard for obtaining information under the SCA is much lower than the probable cause showing required for a warrant.  The government used these cell phone records to show that Carpenter’s phone was near four locations that had been robbed when those robberies occurred and obtained a conviction.  In reversing the decision of the Sixth Circuit and remanding the case, the Court held that individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their physical movements.

Chief Justice Roberts delivered the 119-page opinion for the majority, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan. Justices Kennedy, Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch each filed dissenting opinions.

In the wake of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, another social media company, Grindr, a gay dating app, has come under scrutiny for its sharing of sensitive personal information with third parties.  In particular, Norwegian research outfit SINTEF, after analyzing Grindr’s traffic, alleges that Grindr shares its users’ disclosed HIV status and last tested date , GPS location and other demographic profile information with third parties.

Continue Reading Grindr Grinds Users Gears by Reportedly Sharing Users’ HIV Status