Tokson publishes op-ed in Salt Lake Tribune on digital privacy

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor Matthew Tokson published an op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune about digital privacy in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in  Carpenter v. United States. 

Tokson has closely followed the case through its recent outcome. When the high court heard arguments about the case in November, Justice Sonia Sotomayor cited research by Tokson during discussion of the case, which legal scholars anticipated would transform privacy law in the digital age.

Professor Matthew Tokson

Sotomayor referenced a Northwestern University Law Review article by Tokson, “Knowledge and Fourth Amendment Privacy”, which explores issues related to cell phone location tracking and how courts have failed to apply the Fourth Amendment to such tracking, based on erroneous conclusions about what people know about their privacy. The article had previously been referenced by Nathan Wessler, an attorney representing Timothy Carpenter — one of the robbery suspects whose cell phone records revealed 12,898 separate points of location data.

At issue in Carpenter v. United States was whether the government violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution by accessing an individual’s historical cell phone locations records without a warrant.  The case stems from a string of robberies at several Detroit Radio Shacks in 2010 in which the defendants were prosecuted with evidence gathered through extensive cellphone searches that tracked their movements and locations.


In addition to the direct mention by Sotomayor in court last fall, Tokson previously blogged about the merits of the case with Lior Strahilevitz of the University of Chicago at

He also published an op-ed in New York magazine, “The Supreme Court’s Cell-Phone-Tracking Case Has High Stakes.”