A woman comes up to you in a restaurant. She doesn’t know you are a detective following her. She is suspect.
A woman comes up to you in a restaurant. She doesn’t know you are a detective following her. She is suspect. She walks over to a woman sitting alone, holds her head in her lap, and places her hand over the woman’s mouth and nose. She laughs. The victim dies. She puts her hand on the throat of another woman, grabs her nose, and twists it. The victim dies. She puts her hand over the mouth of a third woman. The victim, terrified, knocks her hand away and says, The person laughs. I do not know what this story means, but I have a vivid mental image of it. The first time I heard it, I assumed it was a legend, perhaps from the late 19th century, the same time period that gives us the myth of Mani. But it’s more recent. In the late 90s. I read in the newspaper that this story was true. And the woman in the story was indeed caught, convicted, and executed. It was reported that she was innocent, but I can’t shake the feeling that she did it. That she put her hand over the victim’s mouth and nose because she was laughing. A few days after reading the story in the newspaper, I went back to the news articles. They were from 1998. The details were different but the story was the same. The accused was a woman. And the victim was a woman. They were both women. And both women were raped and murdered. And their killers were men. But one was executed, and the other was not. Why was one woman executed and the other was not? What does this mean? Is there a connection? Should we be afraid of women? Is there something we need to be doing? Or is the relationship just coincidence? If you could go back in time and change something in history, what would you do? And if you could go back in time and give some woman the chance to take back that day in the park, to change the course of events, what would you do? “Bodies and lost opportunity” by The Secret Science of Women by Amy Thielen
A woman sidles up to you in a bar. Little does she know you’re an undercover cop following her. What would you do? That’s a question that has plagued police officers since it became legal to track phone calls. Last month the Supreme Court heard the case of Carpenter vs. United States, a challenge to the law. But it’s not a question only for cops.
Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), says the government has abused its power in other areas.
“If you’re traveling overseas, a lot of government agencies can get information about your travels, including from your cellphone companies,” Stanley says. “And those types of searches have increased considerably.”
In the Supreme Court case, the government obtained the information of 127 people using data collected from cellphone towers. Police investigators argued that they had probable cause to search the data because it revealed the movements of the suspects, even though there was no information indicating who they were. But the defendants argued that since cellphones are connected to the Internet, they contain information about everyone that is available to law enforcement. Stanley says that the Supreme Court decision will determine whether the government can use cellphone location data in cases of probable cause and without a warrant.
Stanley believes the majority will rule that law enforcement must obtain a warrant before using cell-site location information, which is usually obtained with a device that simulates a cell tower. But Stanley cautions that the decision is not guaranteed. He says that the lower courts have split on the issue and that the Supreme Court could also rule in a way that accepts law enforcement access to the information without a warrant.
The court also could rule that Congress should determine the standards for government access to the information.
The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to rule that law enforcement should have to obtain a warrant to collect location data. Stanley thinks that it may be time for the Supreme Court to weigh in.
“I think it will be important for the Supreme Court to say this,” he says. “It may have to decide whether it wants to add itself to the list of important institutional institutions that have said,”Hey, there’s a right to privacy that extends beyond what the government may ask of a private citizen.”
The Supreme Court has not yet issued a decision.