Occasionally, I see something in the news that compels me, as a citizen of this great state and as a Charleston criminal defense lawyer, to blog about-immediately.
I just read an article you should read.
There is a contingent of opinion these days that no one has any privacy anymore. While that may very well be true, it is clear that the Richland County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Department could care less about yours.
While it appears that search warrants are being obtained by the RCSO to acquire this cell phone data, the constitutional requirement that a warrant be specific is being ignored.
The issue involves what is known as cell phone “Tower Dumping.”
As opposed to search warrants that police might obtain to require a cell phone provider to turn over records for a specific cell phone account for a specific period of time, tower dumping activities acquire ALL the information from one or more cell phone towers for a specific period of time. Possibly yours.
Yes. ALL means all. Police readily admit that this process DOES collect all cell phone data from those of us no more guilty of anything than you, me or the sheriff himself.
Worse, as the article mentions, South Carolina law (that needs to be amended as soon as possible), provides that if the cell phone data collected by the police results in a conviction, ALL of the cell phone data collected may be retained by the police for seven years including data related to innocent persons. What?
How do you feel about this practice? Do any of your children use cell phones? Have they been in Richland County lately? Do they attend USC? Do they keep pictures of themselves and possibly their homes on their cell phones? Their home addresses?
Questions Breed Questions
Data from innocent cell phone users being kept by local government breeds questions.
- Who has access to this data?
- To whom can they disseminate this data?
- How is access and dissemination documented?
- What other non-criminal uses of the data can be made? By whom?
- What measures are in place to ensure that the data, particularly that which is retained for seven years is kept securely?
- How are innocent persons advised that their personal data is in the hands of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department?
- And if they do find out, what procedures, if any exist for these innocent persons to take steps to have their data destroyed?
- And on and on and on.
Call or email your legislator NOW and ask him or her if this is acceptable to them, as guardians of your rights.
COMMENT: We all live here. We all want less crime and a safer community. We all know that police are paid half of what they are worth. My point is simply that the path to all these goals cannot be pursued on the wing of a blank check if the rights we all hold so dear are to endure. TCK.
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