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Should Smith v. Maryland Be Revisited?

PRIVACY LAW—U.S.

August 22, 2013

With more focus on the recent dragnet collection of phone metadata by the National Security Agency, NPR explores whether the legal precedent—the 1979 case, Smith v. Maryland—needs to be revisited. Smith v. Maryland is at least one case that supports the third-party doctrine—when information is shared with a third party, a person’s expectation of privacy is diminished. Stanford University Prof. Jennifer Granick said, “Nothing in Smith v. Maryland authorized mass surveillance, and the information that was collected (in that case) is a much narrower category than the information that the government’s currently getting.” Since so much data is now shared with third parties—including location information from smartphones—individuals are constantly revealing their location, which “is not information that you voluntarily disclose to anybody,” Granick added.
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