In my April 2021 column, “Data Privacy: Why We’re Everywhere,” we discussed the meaning of privacy in the digital age. We discussed in detail Commonwealth v. Pacheco, 2020 PA Super 14 (January 24, 2020) and Commonwealth v. Dunkins, No. 118 MAL 2020 (motion for admission of appeal to the Supreme Court granted August 4, 2020), both of which were recently argued in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, both of which illustrate how the language of the Fourth Amendment and Section I, Section 8 has been extended, or neglected, to protect “privacy” rights not protected by US and state constitutions. On November 17, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its opinion in Pacheco, and followed the Superior Court in finding that cell phone users had “privacy” rights over data they did not own and “private” simply because the actions taken by the data could reasonably be inferred from the data. users, whether or not these actions took place in public or only in the privacy of the users’ home or other private location. In this month’s article, I’ll discuss the Pennsylvania Supreme Court actions and their ramifications,
“Commonwealth against Pacheco”
In 2015, the Montgomery County Attorney’s Office (commonwealth) anti-narcotics team, working with the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), learned that a large Mexican drug trafficking organization was smuggling drugs. heroin in the United States for distribution, and that Pacheco, a resident of Norristown, Pa., played an important role in the operation by collecting the heroin in Atlanta, Ga., and transporting it to buyers wholesale in New York. Throughout the nearly year-long investigation, the Commonwealth has sought and obtained several orders under the Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act (Wiretap Act), 18 Pa.CS Section 5701-82. Pacheco objected to these orders obtained under Article 5771-75 of 18 Pa.CS, which allow the Commonwealth to obtain an order allowing it to obtain “mobile communications tracking information”.