Mad in America: Roll-out of 988 Threatens Anonymity of Crisis Hotlines

January 29, 2022

“It’s not clear if there’s any legal authority to do this,” said Iorio. “In fact, there might be Fourth Amendment issues. What’s the exception to the warrant requirement here?… I don’t see it.”

Iorio said that courts have allowed exceptions to warrants if there are circumstances where people already have a “reasonable expectation” that their personal information, home, or belongings might be accessed or searched—for instance, if they call 911 in an emergency, or are crossing an international border.

But when people call the NSPL or any emotional crisis hotline, said Iorio, “It’s not clear that that’s people’s reasonable expectation at all. I would say that it’s the exact opposite. At the Lifeline website, there is nothing there to indicate that forced referral to police is a potential consequence of calling for mental health services.”

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