Belmont Law Review


Jay E. Town


It once was reasonable to expect courts to rule that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, even in the digital era, because nearly all of the information streamed from mobile devices, applications, and browsers is voluntarily shared per the terms of the platforms', websites', and applications' agreements. But then the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Carpenter v. United States. Scholars and jurists alike opined, to some degree of hyperbole, on the enormity of the impact this holding would have on the Fourth Amendment going forward. Defense counsel and privacy advocates regaled the case as a great win for privacy. Prosecutors and law enforcement contemplated the impact on previous and future evidence gathering. But in the end, Carpenter was little more than an isolated enigma within the margins of search and seizure frameworks; the excitement around Carpenter was little more than a conflated flurry. Law enforcement can absolutely purchase digital person data and use it for investigative purposes without triggering the Fourth Amendment.