Lots of news this week. Hope you have a few moments to try and catch up on it all.
Particularly noteworthy was the statement released by the GPEN commissioners calling on app developers—and the stores that offer apps—to do a better job informing customers about what will happen to their personal information if they proceed to download apps. I think it will be telling if this type of enforcement tactic works. I suppose I’m a little skeptical that it will bring about meaningful change, but I also suppose that the effort can’t hurt matters either. Plus, if the commissioners’ message gets ignored, I’m sure there will be a few irate DPAs out there that will advance matters in a less congenial fashion. So it's really up to the companies to step up now.
The other big story is the Supreme Court decision in the Fearon case. Some are arguing that the court’s ruling is disappointing because it ultimately concludes that the police do not need a warrant to search a cell phone when one is seized at the moment of an arrest. I kind of see the decision a little differently. There are definitely some pro-privacy statements being iterated by the court, the least of which is the affirmation that we all have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our mobile devices. So, the starting point is that the state will need pretty exceptional circumstances or a warrant in order to look at one.
I see the decision as being relatively consistent with the Spencer case from earlier this year. If you recall, this was the case that affirmed that we all have a right to surf the Internet with anonymity and that the police required a warrant before obtaining information that links a customer to a particular IP address. Taken together, I think these two cases could be seen as an acknowledgement that a significant part of our lives is now lived through technology. Our devices, it seems to me, are being recognized as extensions of who we are. Yes, indeed, we have constitutionally protected privacy rights over them. Now, the fact that we are so connected to these things that we sometimes seem incapable without them is another matter and another conversation entirely!
If you care to hear more about what I had to say about the decision this week, here’s a little video.
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