If you thought using a fake name to buy your cellphone plan was a good idea — disregarding the likelihood that you were probably planning some sneaky activity — the Department of Justice is saying you may have just waived away your Fourth Amendment rights with that move.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Daniel David Rigmaiden did just that and his phone was tracked without a warrant using a stingray device by the government in order to reveal that he was filing fraudulent tax returns. Use of this device without a warrant was deemed in court as unconstitutional. But now, the Department of Justice is saying that because Rigmaiden used a fake name and address of a deceased person to create this account and purchase equipment, his rights under the Fourth Amendment that would have required a warrant are forfeited.
More specifically, Gizmodo reports, that a search warrant was not obtained to track Rigmaiden’s cellphone location, which led authorities to an apartment — at which point they did receive a warrant to search — where they found his fake ID and a broadband card with the allegedly incriminating evidence.
WSJ reports that in other recent cases warrantless searches have been permitted when the person searched used fraud to obtain the device. Still, there are opponents to this school of thought, holding that people “have a reasonable expectation of privacy”, which would still require a warrant:
“It’s not against the law to use a fake name,” said Adam Candeub, director of the Intellectual Property, Information and Communications Law Program at Michigan State University. The use of a fake ID and signing of a lease might be a different matter, though. “It can be fraudulent if you are entering into a contract under a fake name, but if it is a simple retail transaction the law is not clear,” he said.
WSJ reports Susan Freiwald, professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, said that using a fake name is not a large enough offense to strip away these rights.