Apple, Google and other tech giants ask the US Supreme Court for more protection of users’ location data

US Supreme Court reverses decision in favor of Apple and case against Samsung will be reviewed

The discussion that encompasses the fragile balance between the privacy of users and the ability of security agencies to access private data for investigations, one that stretches since the advent of remote communication, and certainly still persists for a long, long time before it comes to a consensus (?).

Amidst all this gray territory of uncertainty, the Reuters reported that a group formed by some of the largest technology companies in the United States is joining to ask the country’s highest court for greater protection of some of this data specifically, the location data of users.

Last Monday, the 14th, a consistent group of giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Snap and Verizon Wireless sent the US Supreme Court a 44-page document asking the body to review the application of the Fourth Amendment to the American Constitution, including in its definition the location data of users. The document supported by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union, i.e., United States Civil Liberties Organization).

The Fourth Amendment, which requires law enforcement agencies to obtain search warrants before entering a private home or property and / or combing through the digital files of a particular individual; currently, the location data generated by mobile devices does not enter into this list of elements that need a warrant to be obtained and that is precisely what companies want to change.

The idea is only that these data are protected by law so that arbitrary actions are not committed by the company.

The document sent to the Supreme Court uses the case Carpenter v. United States, in which a man, Timothy Carpenter, was accused of committing a series of armed robberies in the states of Ohio and Michigan in 2011. The police were able to gather evidence for the accusation after having access, without warrant, to the Carpenter location data provided by MetroPCS and Sprint operators; when the ru, together with his lawyers, filed an appeal claiming that warrantless access to his data violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment, the judges decided that this data, specifically, was not covered by the amendment and the police did not need it of a warrant for such a search.

The case is not yet concluded; this year, the Supreme Court agreed to review the case file to take a new decision on a date not yet determined. In any case, the imbroglio has become a kind of symbol of the users’ struggle for their right to privacy, and technology companies have already decided their side. In an excerpt from the document sent to the organization, the companies state:

The fact that users use the services of technology companies for the processing of their data, for specific purposes, does not mean that they agree that this same data will be monitored by the government without a warrant.

If you are interested in the subject and know English, the TechCrunch gathered another series of excerpts from the document, separated by the groups of people / organizations that sign each of the parties.

Ultimately, as companies make it a point to make it clear, we are not talking about an onslaught to make location data totally inaccessible to governments and security agencies in the world, the only idea is that this data (like so many others) are protected by law so that arbitrariness is not committed by a. To this, I believe, none of us will object.