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SCOTUS case spotlights cellphone privacy rights

Today you might have gone to a couple stores, maybe a bar or restaurant, a doctor's office and a baseball game. Maybe you went to a place or two you would just as soon not identify to anyone for personal reasons, and you don't really consider that any third party's business.

Especially that of any government official or agency.

When it comes to privacy, most Americans will readily confirm that they place a high value on the concept.

And they get squeamish with the thought that laws might exist allowing for government surveillance that can easily track their movements.

That concern is at the core of a case that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear on appeal in its upcoming October term.

The central question in the case is this: whether enforcement agents can obtain cellphone tracking records that can establish an individual's visited locations in order to link him with criminal activity.

That is precisely what authorities did in a case involving one man who was convicted of multiple robberies based on phone records and is now serving a 116-year prison term.

Federal attorneys claim the man has no case, given that the records were obtained under the Stored Communications Act, which enables law enforcers to collect data pursuant to a standard less stringent than the "probable cause" mandate cited in the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment.

The petitioner's legal team argues that disagreement among the nation's court requires the country's highest tribunal to step forward and clarify a common standard applicable to privacy expectations of citizens regarding their cellphones.

The importance of the case can hardly be overstated, and we will be sure to timely provide our readers across Missouri and elsewhere with an update when the court's ruling is announced.

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