Supreme Court Weighs in on Digital Rights

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

We get quick reaction to this morning's Supreme Court opinions, and some of the recent notable cases, with Slate senior editor Dahlia Lithwick. The court has ruled against TV provider Aereo, and said that the police may not search an arrestee's cell phone without a specific warrant.


Dahlia Lithwick

Comments [27]

Ed from NYC

The story as presented involved a compete lack of factual reality. The court has spoken so I will not question the decision BUT The reporter actually said that a police officer has the ability to get a warrant in 15 minutes. Where might that be true? Here in NY Judges are not available for such needs and police need to GO AND PERSONALLY visit a District Attorney to have a warrant drawn up and then PERSONALLY see a Judge during BUSINESS HOURS. This process can take 8-12 hours. That being said the people will always have the quality of policing that they demand so here it is- Phones are no longer a tool in aiding crime victims and /or ensuring criminals are apprehended. I would only ask this reporter to do her job and walk through the warrant process once before e miking such a nonsense comment. Since this is the Internet and I'm not on the radio so I feel free to say--I call BULLSHYT. How about some credible reporting of the facts.

Jun. 26 2014 11:41 PM
JimC from N NJ

The cell phone question should have been a no-brainer, since the wording of the Constitution is very clear: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall ..." If "papers" doesn't cover the info in the cell phone, then "effects" certainly should ... and the Constitution doesn't say this 'security' is limited only to what is inside one's home (or castle).

Jun. 26 2014 11:17 AM

@Andrea from Philadelphia

"...Even if you wipe your phone, the court can still subpoena your phone records from your carrier which would have the information about when calls were made/received and how long conversations lasted. It's not like the information vanishes."

...and your phone is impounded while all of this goes on, right? Most folks would cop even if innocent just to have their precious device returned to them. The rare ones that fight it will probably be sorry that they did.

Jun. 25 2014 10:39 PM
Gary Shaffer from Brooklyn

Re cell phones and arrests, cops are prob able to keep a cell phone while they seek a search warrant. They just can't search the phone until they get one. This sometimes happens with car stops when police hold on to the vehicle until they get a warrant to search it. Also similar to cordoning off the house of a suspect while getting a search warrant. The police don't have to let anyone into the house while they await the warrant, but before they go in to search, they need to get one (unless of course there are exigent circumstances.) People tend to overestimate the difficulty of obtaining a warrant in these situations. There are typically judges available 24/7 for this kind of stuff.

Jun. 25 2014 11:38 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@Morgan - I despise my cable company with a passion, and if this ruling went the other way - cable companies would simply stop paying content providers re-transmission fees and would've passed $0 of the savings to you. You obviously have no idea of which horse to back.

Jun. 25 2014 11:31 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Bob, pay $20 to $30 bucks and buy a digital HD antenna. Broadcasters are required to transmit their content over the bandwidth because it is ostensibly owned by the public. They should not be forced to do anything more than that.

Jun. 25 2014 11:26 AM

@Bob_in_Wash_Heights from Manhattan, NYC

"After the recent upgrade to digital television I am no longer able to receive several of the local broadcast stations with a pair of high quality rabbit ears."

Did you upgrade to a digital antenna as well? Rabbit ears (you may have just been using a blanket term) were for analog signals.

Jun. 25 2014 11:25 AM
Frank Fourth from NYC

Amy, I don't think this will be so much an officer safely issue (although with alot of work one might be able to come up with an example.)

I think it will be more a degradation of the evidence issue, that is, the potential defendant will change something on her/his phone that will make it more difficult to prove whatever the potential case would be.

But that is easily dealt with. For years police have been able to seize evidence under the theory above and then go get a search warrant to examine it further.

Jun. 25 2014 11:24 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Fuva, in theory - yes. Aereo has to pay for content like everyone else. No different from the likes of "spotify" and "pandora" paying record companies for streaming their music.

Jun. 25 2014 11:19 AM
Andrea from Philadelphia

Re: the example of an officer wanting to search a phone for evidence of texting: Even if you wipe your phone, the court can still subpoena your phone records from your carrier which would have the information about when calls were made/received and how long conversations lasted. It's not like the information vanishes.

Jun. 25 2014 11:18 AM
Bob_in_Wash_Heights from Manhattan, NYC

After the recent upgrade to digital television I am no longer able to receive several of the local broadcast stations with a pair of high quality rabbit ears. (And I live right in Manhattan.) There seems to be no interest on the part of the FCC or brodcast networks to fix this problem. I will miss Aereo because it was the only affordable alternative to expensive cable packages.

As far as I am concerned local broadcast stations should be REQUIRED to make their channels available to local audiences on the internet. If not, then we have had a basic right to local reception of broadcast TVtaken away from us.

Jun. 25 2014 11:17 AM
Frank Fourth from NYC

The police seize your cell so you can't mess with it. They go to a judge and get a search warrant if they can.

Now, whether that's worth it for a texting ticket?

Jun. 25 2014 11:15 AM
Amy from Manhattan

In what situation would the response to an officer's fear for his or her safety be to search the suspect's cell phone? What could be found on a phone that would allay a perceived threat to the officer's safety?

Jun. 25 2014 11:15 AM

@Sheldon, which cable/TV corporation do you represent? Bottom line, consumers/everyday people once again loose to corporate "people." United Corporations of America. How much is your cable bill Sheldon?

Jun. 25 2014 11:14 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

If Aereo made an actual antenna, just like the dozens of companies that make digital antennas, Aereo would not be in any trouble.

I'm no fan of broadcasters, shame on them for not easily making real time streaming accessible on mobile devices but Aereo's methods were illegal.

Jun. 25 2014 11:13 AM

Why doesn't Aereo pay the broadcast companies? What would their fee have to be?
The cable company monopoly is soon to be under severe attack. I would prefer an a la carte pricing model. Disney (via ESPN), other sports channels and various religious-themed channels are receiving WAY too much of my monthly cable dollar. Counting the days 'til when I can brush them off.

Jun. 25 2014 11:13 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Folks, we resign ourselves to the merger of Comcast and TWC at our peril. They want us to have this kind of defeatist attitude, which seems alarmingly prevalent amongst "journalists". What we need to be contemplating are effective ways to stop it.

So can Aereo pay a license fee and maintain the service?

Jun. 25 2014 11:11 AM
Quentin from Queens

So could we now say in an old coop building with an antenna on the roof that served many different people some how now violates copy write laws for a free commercially funded broadcast. Geez.

Jun. 25 2014 11:11 AM
Derek from Brooklyn

The antennas don't work everywhere with digital signals, which is why I was subscribing to Aereo.

Jun. 25 2014 11:08 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@Morgan.. Aereo was multi-million company that stole content and charged people for it. You can't take people's content for free and charge people for it. Cable companies can't do it, satellite companies can't do it either - that's why they pay re-transmission fees.

Jun. 25 2014 11:07 AM
Michael from Bushwick

I hope Aereo can keep going at least until the World Cup ends. I don't have a TV, and have enjoyed watching the matches on Univision on my iMac (and brushing up on my Spanish at the same time.)

Jun. 25 2014 11:06 AM
Carolita from Nyc

The aereo decision is so wrong! So many people can't get ota tv anymore and are literally forced to either go without or buy their free ota channels from twc or other companies.

Jun. 25 2014 11:06 AM
Ben from Brooklyn

Guess the cable and broadcast companies huge lobby efforts were successful once again. Sad.

Jun. 25 2014 11:03 AM
Capper from NYC

The court is protecting "broadcast networks".


Jun. 25 2014 11:03 AM
JR from NYC

that sucks majorly. the empire strikes back and the cable monopoly continues. consumer has no right to choose how or what we want to watch. must pay through the nose to watch tv.

Jun. 25 2014 11:02 AM

Did Aereo really think they could win against these major corporations? Since Citizens United, it's pretty plan to see who's "constitutional rights" the judges protect.

Jun. 25 2014 10:57 AM

What about ICE/Border Patrol? Can they be considered likewise enjoined?

Jun. 25 2014 10:56 AM

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