US Supreme Court gives Privacy New Breath

The US Supreme Court rules in Carpenter v United States, 16-402,  that the federal government generally needs a warrant to access historical cell phone location records, finding that the data deserves more stringent protection than other customer information held by service providers.

The Petitioner, Timothy Ivory Carpenter was charged in 2011 with six counts of robbery and an additional six counts of carrying a firearm during a federal crime of violence. However, there was no direct evidence linking him to the robberies.

Based on the information the FBI had extracted from other suspects potentially linking Carpenter to the robberies, the prosecutors applied for court orders under the Stored Communications Act to obtain Carpenter’s and several other suspects’ cell phone records.

Subsequently, the Government obtained Carpenter’s cell-site location information (CSLI). These are time-stamped records that a phone generates each time it connects to a cell site, without any affirmative act on the user’s part beyond powering.

[Image Credit: https://www.aclu.org]

From the CSLI records, 12,898 location points cataloguing Carpenter’s movements over 127 days—an average of 101 data points per day were obtained.

Carpenter’s move before the District Court to suppress the data, arguing Government’s violation of the Fourth Amend­ment, prohibiting seizure of the records without obtaining a warrant supported by probable cause, was denied.

The prosecutors relying Carpenter’s CSLI records and the on circumstantial evidence derived therefrom, showed the Trial Court that Carpenter’s phone was near four of the robbery locations at the time those robberies occurred thus securing a conviction.

The Federal Court of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the Trial Courts conviction, holding that Carpen­ter lacked a reasonable expectation of privacy in the location infor­mation collected by the FBI because he had shared that information with his wireless carriers.

The 5-4 US Supreme Court Opinion reverses the Court of Appeal decision finding that historical cell phone location records deserve heightened protection under the Fourth Amendment. The Court stated that “individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the whole of their physical movements.”

The Court addressed itself to the application of the Fourth Amendment to the digital age ability to chronicle a person’s past movements through the record of his cell phone signals vis-à-vis the government’s right to seize and search.

While stating that historical cell-site records present even greater privacy concerns than the GPS monitoring since they give the Government near perfect surveillance allowing it to travel back in time to retrace a person’s whereabouts, the Court found it ironic for Government to contend on the one hand that CSLI data is less precise than GPS information, while having relied on and highlighting the data’s accuracy during its closing argument in Car­penter’s trial.

The Court also took judicial notice of technological advancement in the field of surveillance and telecommunication stating that:

“At any rate, the rule the Court adopts ‘must take ac­count of more sophisticated systems that are already in use or in development,’ and the accuracy of CSLI is rapidly approaching GPS-level precision.”

The Court also stated that:

“Mapping a cell phone’s location over the course of 127 days provides an all-encompassing record of the holder’s whereabouts. As with GPS information, the time­-stamped data provides an intimate window into a person’s life, revealing not only his particular movements, but through them his ‘familial, political, professional, reli­gious, and sexual associations.’”

Mapping of CSLI in a similar case: People v. Moalawi [Image Credits: https://www.eff.org]

The US Supreme Court decision is an insightful contribution to jurisprudence. It highlights the conflict between analogue and digital and the need to contextualise precedents while also addressing the place of circumstantial evidence in the digital era and in sharp conflict with the fundamental right of privacy.

Read related stories here, here, here and here.

At TLO Law Associates, we care about Technology, Privacy and Telecommunication.

Our legal representation, advisory and consultancy services spans through, Technology, Data Privacy and Protection, Dispute Resolution and Telecommunication among others. For legal assistance, or more information on our services, kindly contact us.

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Africa’s Largest Cyber Defence Yet

Plans are underway for Africa’s largest Cyber Defence Summit. The cyber security gathering dubbed Cyfence Africa is scheduled for 9-10 July 2018 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), Nairobi, Kenya.

The Government of Kenya through the Ministry of ICT is the Summit’s official host. The Dubai-based business facilitation company, Naseba and the Kenya-based Africa Cyber Space Network – a premier international cyber protection Network that is at the forefront in Africa’s Cyber Security protection initiative are the Summit’s official co-organisers.

The Summit is organised on the appreciation that Technology is becoming a key economic enabler for African nations and with the acknowledgement that it is imperative to address the challenges of cyber security through a collaborative cyber defence and to protect our critical infrastructures.

Read related stories here and here.

The rather ambitious Summit seeks to, among others: Promote cyber security leadership and governance from the top level of every organization; Identify gaps and build capacity for strategic, technical and operational elements of cyber security; Address cyber security holistically by enhancing collaboration between African nations and across industry verticals; Facilitate partnerships that develops local industry and contextualize cutting edge cyber security solutions and services; and Initiate a dialogue towards the setting up of regional cyber security action frameworks.

Click here for more information on the summit.

At TLO Law Associates, we care about Technology and Cyber Security. Our legal representation, advisory and consultancy services spans through, Technology, Data Privacy and Protection, Cyber Security and Telecommunication among others. For legal assistance, or more information on our services, kindly contact us.

Note & Disclaimer:

The information included in this article was correct at the time it was written and uploaded to this website.

This publication is not intended to constitute legal advice which can only be given having regard to particular facts and circumstances. Any liability, damage, loss or injury that would or could arise from or of the contents hereof, directly or indirectly is hereby excluded.

Always seek professional advice from a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter.

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Calls for Tough SIM Card Registration Enforcement

CS Mucheru in a past event.

The fight against mobile phones and other ICT infrastructure abuse and misuse intensifies as Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Joe Mucheru, calls for tough measures on enforcement of SIM card registration within the East African Community (EAC).

This call is part of a greater effort to promote safe use of ICT infrastructure within EAC and to wade off criminals who are increasingly misusing ICT infrastructure, including unregistered SIM Cards to perpetrate crimes, including terrorism and kidnapping.

Speaking during the 25th East African Communications Organization (EACO) Assemblies in Nairobi, Mr.Mucheru called on Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to strictly adhere to the SIM Card registration regulations so as to help law enforcement agencies within the region to track down criminals.

Mr. Mucheru’s concerns bolster Kenya’s Telecoms Regulator, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) recent directions to the MNOs to deactivate all unregistered or partially unregistered SIM cards within their networks.

The CA also recently conducted a crackdown on SIM cards hawkers. At least  sixty-two (62) SIM Card hawkers were apprehended and charged.

The combined efforts of the Ministry of ICT and the CA are aimed at positioning Kenya and the East Africa as a single investment market, and catalyzing the realization of our region’s ultimate goal of political and monetary integration, while eliminating the challenges posed by cybercrime.

Related story: Mobile Subscribers Providing False Information in SIM Card Registration Risk Six Months in Jail

At TLO Law Associates, we care about the Telecommunication Service providers and consumers.

Our legal representation, advisory and consultancy services spans through, Corporate and Commercial, Consumer Protection and Competition, Technology and Telecommunication among others. For legal assistance, or more information on our services, kindly contact us.

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This publication is not intended to constitute legal advice which can only be given having regard to particular facts and circumstances. Any liability, damage, loss or injury that would or could arise from or of the contents hereof, directly or indirectly is hereby excluded.

Always seek professional advice from a suitably qualified lawyer on any specific legal problem or matter.

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Turner sparks Africa’s Creative Economy?

Turner Broadcasting System Europe Limited (“Turner” or (“TBSEL”), has, through Cartoon Network Africa, sparked Africa’s creative economy in its launch of the Cartoon Network Africa Creative Lab, an African Animation Competition (the “Competition”) designed to bring innovative, local short form content to the channel, and its digital platforms, while reinforcing the local relevance of the Cartoon Network. The initiative also seeks to address the gap in locally relevant content which offers a viewing experience that resonates with its African audience.

With emphasis to Kenya, the initiative is a plus not only to the media industry which is moving towards achieving sixty percent (60%) local content but also to the creative economy as it encourages African talents ranging from creators, writers, graphists, animators, animation students, anyone over 18 years and African based companies in the entertainment industry.

The Competition targets content suitable for children between the ages of 6 and 12. Its entries opened on 7 June and will close on 31 August 2018 across the continent and require among others, the submission of short animated films of 1-3 minutes in the comedy genre and in tune with Cartoon Network’s values of random, irreverent, smart and contemporary humour as outlined in their editorial guidelines.

Like all other competitions, the Cartoon Network Africa Creative Lab has its terms and conditions. Let’s take a sneak preview:

The Seven (7) paged conditions, which comprises: the recitals, entry, selection process, prize and requirements, general terms, annexure 1 and consent form, opens with:

Please note by submitting your entry, you confirm that you have read and agree with the below rules (the “Rules”).

Noteworthy terms, under the general terms include:

And close with:

By submitting your entry, you confirm that you have read and agree with these rules.

And the prize or compensation, for the foregoing is not:But:Also, each Winner may be required to sign a waiver prepared by TBSEL, in its complete discretion, specific to the Prize confirming understanding, compliance with and acceptance of the waiver.

TBSEL confirms that it will cover the costs associated with visas and/or other documents required for travel.

However, and most importantly, all other costs associated with the Prize, including but not limited to tax, valid health insurance for travel, transportation, accommodation, equipment, sustenance, any entertainment and anything related to the Prize not specifically included and outlined in the definition of the Prize above will be borne solely by the Winner.

Notably, the Consent Form reiterates and puts into perspective most of the general terms for emphasis and for the avoidance of doubt that the winners, participants and entrants are signing away their intellectual property rights with informed consent.

In closing, the Cartoon’s Network initiative appears great for the African Creative Economy. The question however remains whether the CN’s enthusiasm and the spark is for lighting the Africa’s creative spirit or burning down the creative economy.

Persons interested in the Cartoon Network Africa Creative Lab are encouraged to read, read and read the Terms and Conditions and if possible, which is advisable, seek independent legal advice.

Read more: here and here

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The foregoing information if for general consumption and is not meant to be and does not amount to legal advice. We are not liable to any loss, damage, injury, liability and so forth that may arise from any direct or indirect reliance on the above information as legal advice.

TLO Law Associates practices among others: Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property Law, Contract Negotiation, Drafting and Review. Kindly Contact Us for customised legal advice regarding the forgoing information or in any of our practice areas.

Cryptocurrencies finally grab IMF’s attention?

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reaffirmed its interest in cryptocurrencies through a report Monetary Policy in the Digital Age which concludes, interestingly, that: “Crypto assets may one day reduce demand for central bank money.”

The report which centres on virtual currencies examines the evolution of money analysing the pros and cons of crypto assets the dangers they pose on the functionality and relevance of central banks and proposes solutions thereto.
The IMF report argues that the global financial crisis and the bailouts of major financial institutions renewed skepticism on the central banks’ monopoly on the issuance of currency consequently leading to the mushrooming of Bitcoin and other crypto assets.

Read a brief analysis of the IMF Report by Brian Tororei here.

These assets, the IMF argues, may one day serve as alternative currencies thus reducing demand for fiat currencies on the account that they offer anonymity of cash, allow transactions at long distance and the unit of transaction can potentially be more divisible thus proving more attractive for micro payments in the sharing and service-based digital economy.

The IMF correctly points out that there are hurdles that crypto assets need to clear before they achieve their full potential including their present high volatility and risk and the fact that they enjoy less trust than fiat currencies.

The IMF also argues that the central banks could counter the pressure that cryptocurrencies may exert on fiat currencies through a raft of measures including but not limited to making their fiat currencies better and more stable units of account and being open to fresh ideas and new demands, as economies evolve; enhancing regulation of crypto assets to prevent regulatory arbitrage and any unfair competitive advantage on account of lighter regulation; and making their money attractive for use as a settlement vehicle.

Read more here.

KT Law Associates is a specialist firm dealing with Technology Media and Telecommunication. Kindly contact us for legal advice and questions on Blockchain Technology among other areas.