Could Edward Snowden's NSA Leak Exonerate This Accused Robber?

A case involving a man accused of armed robbery raises some interesting questions regarding the NSA’s much-criticized phone surveillance program. 

A Fort Lauderdale, Fla. man, Terrence Brown, on trial for armed robbery is hoping that his phone records will exonerate him. 

The accused pleaded not guilty along with four other men. A sixth man, Nathaniel Morris, is already serving a life sentence for the murder of one of the truck drivers during the armed robbery spree. Morris testified that Brown was an accomplice, which Brown hopes to challenge by showing his phone records have him at another location.

Complicating matters more, Brown was a Metro PCS customer, which does not keep phone records as far back as 2010, when the crime took place.

However, Brown’s attorney has filed court documents arguing that in light of the NSA phone-tapping revelations, it is possible that the government has proof that could exonerate Brown.

With the revelation that millions of Americans phone records have been collected by the U.S. government, the question becomes: Do you have ownership over your private phone communications, and if not, who does?

This case could very possibly answer that question, and the answer may be concerning for millions of cell phone users.

Most Americans assume that their private communications are their property. But the revelation of NSA’s phone surveillance program has called that assumption into question, with the government indicating that those communications are in fact the property of the cell phone company — and that the government has the right to seize them at any time.

In a world of ever-evolving technology it’s important that we not allow our most basic liberties to fall by the wayside as new technology springs up with new and unforeseen opportunities for our privacy to be compromised.

When establishing property rights, our founders took into account not only tangible property rights but intellectual property rights as well. At what point did our private thoughts, conversations and communications become the property of the government and not our own?

Brown’s case may very well hinge on illegally obtained cell phone records that are currently in the possession of the U.S. government. It doesn’t even seem a matter of question whether or not his defense has the right to access these records, if they do in fact exist.

After all, why does the U.S. government have more claim to an individuals private communications than the individual does?

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Alyssa Farah

Alyssa Farah is a political communications professional living in Washington, D.C. She's served as the Director of Communications for Young Americans for Liberty. Prior to that, she worked as an Associate Producer on the nationally-syndicated Laura Ingraham Show as well as serving as the Communication Director for the College Republican National Committee during the 2012 election cycle.

MORE FROM

Hillary Clinton says Republicans will be the "death party" if they pass health care bill

Hillary Clinton spoke out against the Republican's proposed bill on Twitter.

It's time to redefine the clitoris, according to sex education experts

"Words matter. They shape and mold our ideas and beliefs about our purpose, our bodies, our self-worth and our place in the world around us."

Al-Jazeera becomes a target amid Qatar diplomatic crisis

Gulf states are demanding the broadcaster be shut down.

5 blocks of London apartments to be evacuated over potentially flammable cladding

800 North London apartments will be evacuated following a fire inspection that turned up evidence that the buildings could be unsafe.

Tomi Lahren wants to rally women to her side after criticizing feminists and "pro-choicers"

"My view on abortion is not black-and-white," Lahren said.

These 5 states are drafting laws to limit protests on college campuses

The legislation is intended to protect free speech on campus.

Hillary Clinton says Republicans will be the "death party" if they pass health care bill

Hillary Clinton spoke out against the Republican's proposed bill on Twitter.

It's time to redefine the clitoris, according to sex education experts

"Words matter. They shape and mold our ideas and beliefs about our purpose, our bodies, our self-worth and our place in the world around us."

Al-Jazeera becomes a target amid Qatar diplomatic crisis

Gulf states are demanding the broadcaster be shut down.

5 blocks of London apartments to be evacuated over potentially flammable cladding

800 North London apartments will be evacuated following a fire inspection that turned up evidence that the buildings could be unsafe.

Tomi Lahren wants to rally women to her side after criticizing feminists and "pro-choicers"

"My view on abortion is not black-and-white," Lahren said.

These 5 states are drafting laws to limit protests on college campuses

The legislation is intended to protect free speech on campus.