Warrantless Retrieval of Electronic Automobile Data Held to Be Unreasonable Search – Ruling Points to Private Nature of Digital Data Collected in Today’s World

Proskauer - New Media & Technology
Contact

Proskauer - New Media & Technology

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the retrieval of electronic automobile data from an electronic data recording device (e.g., airbag control modules) without a warrant at the scene of a fatal collision was a search and seizure that implicates the Fourth Amendment, regardless of any reasonable expectations of privacy. (Mobley v. State, No. S18G1546 (Ga. Oct. 21, 2019)). The Court went on to hold that such retrieval of data was an unreasonable search and seizure forbidden by the Fourth Amendment, and that because the State failed to identify any recognized exception to the warrant requirement applicable to the facts, the trial court should have granted the motion to suppress.  As such, the judgment of the Court of Appeals affirming the conviction of the defendant for vehicular homicide was reversed.

As described in an earlier post, the defendant was convicted of vehicular homicide based on evidence retrieved from his vehicle’s electronic data that showed that he was travelling at a high rate of speed prior to the accident.  The defendant appealed the decision of the trial court (which was affirmed by the appellate court) that denied his motion to suppress evidence of the data that law enforcement officers retrieved without a warrant from an electronic data recording device on his vehicle (note: a search warrant was obtained for the physical device the next day).

Putting aside the state criminal procedural issues and the sufficiency of the evidence against the particular defendant in this case, the decision is an important follow-up to the Supreme Court’s guidance in the area of digital privacy that it set out in recent years in the Riley and Carpenter decisions.  With cars becoming more like computers and sensors on four wheels, automated automobile data may potentially be viewed as sensitive as certain types of private data collected by mobile devices.  With the advent of autonomous cars, the Mobley court recognized how one’s private sphere can extend beyond the home and, depending on the factual circumstances and the nature of the search, may include automated data collected by one’s devices (both small, like a mobile phone, and large, as an automobile). With new technologies like digital personal assistants and the coming of 5G and the supposed Internet of Things (IoT) revolution of connectedness, we imagine these issues will coming up more and more in the coming years.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Proskauer - New Media & Technology | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Proskauer - New Media & Technology
Contact
more
less

Proskauer - New Media & Technology on:

Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide
- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.