By: Ummkulthum Totten 10a
Surprisingly, the word privacy is not mentioned in the American constitution, nonetheless every American citizen’s right to privacy is protected by Article 1, section 7 of the NJ Constitution which states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrant shall issue except upon probable cause….” –NJ Constitution. Allowing people to have a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, there have been many cases where this right was ignored or upheld. There are some acceptations under certain circumstance, for example, in the situation of exigent circumstance, where this was considered in the case of Earls. v. State.
American Citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding personal cellphone information and records. As it was mentioned in the document: “consumers do not purchase cellphones for use of tracking devices.”1 Due to the un-updated constitution concerning technology, federal officials are able to find their way around obtaining a search warrant. People expect to have some privacy if they have not committed a crime and are not involved in illegal activity. The strong US justice system even gives criminals there full rights. Yet, the FBI and NSA can access phone records are any records for that matter without a search warrant and the individual would not even know. Although the Patriot Act makes it illegal for those agencies to publically share that data and information. Due to the citizen’s rights and laws protecting privacy the Earls’ case proceeded to an appeal after the court concluded the evidence to be illegally obtained. The lower court argued to uphold the 4th amendment saying “that an individual has no legitimate expectation of privacy”. 2 However, the appeal was later denied. The court ruled the tracking to be constitutional because police monitoring took place on public roads and highways.3 Which doesn’t make sense because the original appeal was because the police didn’t acquire a search warrant to look at Earls’ phone records.
In the case of Earls v. State the police searched his phone for his location without a warrant, shortly after the girlfriend went missing. Assuming she was in a dangerous situation, the police wanted to act fast and considered the situation exigent circumstance. Exigent Circumstance: allows law enforcement to enter a structure without a search warrant, or if they have a "knock and announce" warrant, without knocking and waiting for a refusal under certain circumstances. Exigent circumstances must be in a situation where people are in imminent danger, evidence faces imminent destruction, or a suspect will escape. 4 After an appeal the court sided with police saying “a person has no constitutionally protected right of privacy in his general location on roadways or other public places.”5 Although the police’s intentions were good, there is a procedure to follow and the messed up by not acquiring a search warrant.
“When people make disclosers to phone companies and other providers to use their sources, they are not promoting the release of personal information to others.”6 Phone companies