More than a few years ago, the term “phone-mining” probably meant nothing to anyone. Nowadays, it has become one of the most controversial topics all over the United States, including our federal courts. A recent ruling states that the acquisition of data through mobile phones, including cell phone numbers and and timestamps, is unconstitutional. The case itself, Klayman v. Obama (13-cv-881), was heard in Washington D.C. under Judge Richard Leon. This private collection of data was leaked by former NSA contractor and controversial figure Edward Snowden, who is currently living in Russia under temporary asylum.
The Fourth Amendment prohibits search and seizure of personal effects, and while the founding fathers would never have predicted the current age of technology we live in, they were certainly attempting to retain the privacy of the people. The NSA’s original intention appeared to be the close monitoring of cell phones to target potential threats and keep tabs on terrorist activity. Judge Leon stated that there was no evidence shown that the massive collection of private data had prevented any attack or lead to any valuable information that would help protect the United States. President Obama is planning to sit down with the heads of the major companies involved, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Verizon, and AT&T regarding the metadata as well.
With this decision in the books, it is easy to look back and get an overwhelming sense of “by any means necessary” when it comes to certain actions. Pivotal decisions, from the Patriot Act to the leak by Edward Snowden, continue to rock the foundation of our country. Many continue to point back to the U.S. Constitution as the beacon of shining light through these times, and with good reason. This decision is certainly a landmark case that will have major implications moving forward. At the end of the day, it looks like some of our private data transferred via mobile will stay private.