The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently issued a sweeping ruling “that accessing any information from a cell phone without a warrant” violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In Commonwealth v. Fulton, the Court suppressed the warrantless search of the contents of a ‘flip phone’ and reversed a murder conviction that flowed from the unlawful search.  The Supreme Court held that the Superior Court’s decision contravened U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, 134 S. Ct. 2473 (2014), holding that searches of cell phones generally require a warrant.

In June 2010, Philadelphia Police arrested I. Dean Fulton and three others on suspicion of unlawful drug activity and gun possession. They seized Fulton’s “smart phone” from his body at the time of the arrest.  They subsequently obtained a search warrant for the vehicle Fulton and the others were in at the time of their arrests.  That search turned up a firearm, a holster, three cell phones and other property.  The cell phones – which included one ‘flip phone’ later connected to Fulton –were provided to the Homicide Division, which was investigating a recent drug-related murder.  Continue Reading Pennsylvania Supreme Court: If You Want to Search a Cell Phone, Get a Warrant!

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this morning in United States v. Microsoft, No. 17-2, which presents the question whether a United States court may issue a search warrant to a U.S.-based electronic communications service for email account data held on a server outside of the United States.

Here’s the transcript of this morning’s oral argument.  We will blog more about this case — and the important issues at stake — down the road.

For those of you heading to Legaltech in New York next week, please join me and a great panel for what promises to be a lively discussion of hot topics in IoT and Mobile Discovery.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have been included in Relativity’s session on this topic at a number of conferences, and this next iteration is shaping up to be our best yet.  Here’s our session description:

From the Iron Rooster to Amazon Alexa: Mobile Discovery and the Internet of Things

Whether it’s missing mobile data (Montgomery v. Iron Rooster-Annapolis, LLC), digital data in a truck (Below v. Yokohama Tire Corp.), Fitbit data (State v. Dabate), or data from an Amazon Alexa (State v. Bates) mobile discovery and data from the Internet of Things (IoT) devices present challenges, not only for litigants and their lawyers, but for corporate organizations, paralegals, and technologists as well. In this session, lawyers and consultants, including a former Department of Justice cybercrime coordinator, a prominent discovery attorney, a corporate information governance expert, and a leading legal industry analyst, will address the legal, technical, and practical considerations of mobile, social, and IoT data, including preservation requirements and data privacy limitations.

Here’s the link to the Legaltech page, in case you haven’t registered yet.  Hope to see you in NYC!

2018 is shaping up to be a potentially momentous year for data privacy, with a number of pending cases whose impact could fundamentally alter the scope of future privacy lawsuits and criminal investigations. This post will take a look at some of these cases and their potential impact.

Carpenter v. United States

We’ll start with Carpenter, which is pending in the U.S. Supreme Court and focuses on whether the Fourth Amendment requires the government to secure a search warrant to obtain a criminal defendant’s cell phone records from his or her cellular service provider. Continue Reading Data Privacy Cases to Watch in 2018