Friday, June 22, 2018

Carpenter v. United States, Docket 16-402

Fourth Amendment: Search: Warrant: Probable cause: Cell phones: GPS: Corporate records: FTC:

Cell phones perform their wide and growing variety of functions by con­tinuously connecting to a set of radio antennas called “cell sites.” Each time a phone connects to a cell site, it generates a time-stamped record known as cell-site location information (CSLI). Wireless carri­ers collect and store this information for their own business purposes.

The Government’s acquisition of Carpenter’s cell-site records was a Fourth Amendment search.

The Fourth Amendment protects not only property interests but certain expectations of privacy as well. Katz v. United States, 389 U. S. 347, 351. Thus, when an individual “seeks to preserve some­thing as private,” and his expectation of privacy is “one that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable,” official intrusion into that sphere generally qualifies as a search and requires a warrant sup­ported by probable cause. Smith v. Maryland, 442 U. S. 735, 740.

(…) In United States v. Knotts, 460 U. S. 276 (1983), we considered the Government’s use of a “beeper” to aid in tracking a vehicle through traffic. Police officers in that case planted a beeper in a container of chloroform before it was pur­chased by one of Knotts’s co-conspirators. The officers (with intermittent aerial assistance) then followed the automobile carrying the container from Minneapolis to Knotts’s cabin in Wisconsin, relying on the beeper’s signal to help keep the vehicle in view. The Court concluded that the “augmented” visual surveillance did not constitute a search because “a person traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another.” Id., at 281, 282. Since the movements of the vehicle and its final destination had been “voluntarily conveyed to anyone who wanted to look,” Knotts could not assert a privacy interest in the information obtained. Id., at 281.

(…) In Riley, the Court recognized the “immense storage capacity” of modern cell phones in holding that police officers must generally obtain a warrant before searching the contents of a phone. 573 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 17).

(…) United States v. Jones, 565 U. S. 400 (five Jus­tices concluding that privacy concerns would be raised by GPS track­ing) (…) longer term GPS monitoring of even a vehicle traveling on public streets constitutes a search. Jones, 565 U. S., at 430.
(…) A person’s expectation of privacy in infor­mation voluntarily turned over to third parties. See United States v. Miller, 425 U. S. 435 (no expectation of privacy in financial records held by a bank), and Smith, 442 U. S. 735 (no expectation of privacy in records of dialed telephone numbers conveyed to telephone compa­ny).

(…) And even though the Government will generally need a warrant to access CSLI, case-specific exceptions—e.g., exigent circumstances—may support a warrantless search.

(…) Having found that the acquisition of Carpenter’s CSLI was a search, we also conclude that the Government must generally obtain a warrant supported by probable cause before acquiring such records. Although the “ultimate measure of the constitutionality of a governmental search is ‘reasonableness,’” our cases establish that warrantless searches are typically unreasonable where “a search is undertaken by law enforcement officials to discover evi­dence of criminal wrongdoing.” Vernonia School Dist. 47J v. Acton, 515 U. S. 646, 652–653 (1995). Thus, “in the absence of a warrant, a search is reasonable only if it falls within a specific exception to the warrant requirement.” Riley, 573 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 5).

(…) This Court has never held that the Government may subpoena third parties for records in which the suspect has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Almost all of the examples JUSTICE ALITO cites (…) contem­plated requests for evidence implicating diminished privacy interests or for a corporation’s own books (See United States v. Dionisio, 410 U. S. 1, 14 (1973) (“No person can have a reasonable expectation that others will not know the sound of his voice”); Donovan v. Lone Steer, Inc., 464 U. S. 408, 411, 415 (1984) (payroll and sales records); California Bankers Assn. v. Shultz, 416 U. S. 21, 67 (1974) (Bank Secrecy Act reporting requirements); See v. Seattle, 387 U. S. 541, 544 (1967) (financial books and records); United States v. Powell, 379 U. S. 48, 49, 57 (1964) (corporate tax records); McPhaul v. United States, 364 U. S. 372, 374, 382 (1960) (books and records of an organization); United States v. Morton Salt Co., 338 U. S. 632, 634, 651–653 (1950) (Federal Trade Commission reporting re­quirement); Oklahoma Press Publishing Co. v. Walling, 327 U. S. 186, 189, 204–208 (1946) (payroll records); Hale v. Henkel, 201 U. S. 43, 45, 75 (1906) (corporate books and papers).

(…) This is certainly not to say that all orders compelling the production of documents will require a showing of proba­ble cause. The Government will be able to use subpoenas to acquire records in the overwhelming majority of inves­tigations. We hold only that a warrant is required in the rare case where the suspect has a legitimate privacy in­terest in records held by a third party.

(U.S.S.C., June 22, 2018, Carpenter v. United States, Docket 16-402, C.J. Roberts)

Mises en œuvre sans « warrant », les mesures officielles de « search and seizure » au sens du Quatrième Amendement sont constitutionnelles si elles sont raisonnables.
Cependant, dans les investigations pénales, les « searches » sans « warrant » seront usuellement dépourvues du caractère raisonnable, sauf si elles peuvent être classées dans une exception spécifique à l’exigence du « warrant ».
En l’espèce, la Cour juge que la saisie par l’autorité pénale des données de géolocalisation fournies par les antennes de téléphonie mobile exige l’obtention préalable d’un « warrant » supporté par une « probable cause ». Dans ses jurisprudences Riley et Jones, elle avait déjà jugé qu’il en allait de même s’agissant de la saisie du contenu d’un téléphone portable et des données GPS respectivement.
Le Quatrième Amendement ne protège pas seulement des droits de propriété, mais aussi certaines expectatives de respect de la sphère privée. Ainsi, quand une personne entend conserver la nature privée d’une occurrence, et que cette expectative de respect de la vie privée est considérée comme raisonnable dans la société, une intrusion officielle sera usuellement considérée comme une « search », exigeant l’obtention préalable d’un « warrant » supporté par une « probable cause ».
Dans une affaire antérieure, la Cour avait jugé que la pose par la police d’un « beeper » sur un véhicule automobile ne supposait pas l’obtention d’un « warrant ». En effet, en se déplaçant aux yeux du public, le conducteur du véhicule ne pouvait concevoir aucune expectative de respect de sa sphère privée portant sur son lieu de départ et sur son lieu de destination.
Aucune expectative de cette sorte non plus s’agissant de certains documents volontairement remis à des tiers, tels des documents financiers en mains d’une banque, les rapports remis à la FTC, la liste des numéros de téléphone composés détenue par la compagnie de téléphone. Même s’ils ne sont pas remis à des tiers, aucune expectative non plus s’agissant de nombreux documents d’entreprise comme des documents comptables, fiscaux, de salaire, de vente.

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