Two Decisions Shed Light on the Supreme Court's Role in Telecommunications Policy

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[Commentary] The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) released two big communications-related decisions on June 25. First, the Court unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest. That ruling will have the most immediate impact on the approximately 12 million people -- yes, 12,000,000 -- who are arrested in the US each year. But its impact will most likely be much broader: the ruling almost certainly also applies to searches of tablet and laptop computers, and its reasoning may apply to searches of homes and businesses and of information held by third parties like phone companies. In the second case of note, SCOTUS ruled that Aereo, a television streaming service, had violated copyright laws by capturing broadcast signals on miniature antennas and delivering them to subscribers for a fee. The ruling blocks a company whose goals were to upend long-standing models for how broadcast programming is delivered to consumers. The 6 to 3 decision handed a major victory to the broadcast networks, which argued that Aereo’s business model was no more than a high-tech approach for stealing their content.


Two Decisions Shed Light on the Supreme Court's Role in Telecommunications Policy