No Warrant Needed to Track Phones, Says Court
Jul 31, 2013, 7:18 AM by Eric M. Zeman
Law enforcement does not need to obtain a search warrant in order to obtain cell phone location data from network operators, according to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The decision overturns two earlier rulings that said search warrants should be required. Instead, law enforcement needs to obtain a court order, which does not need to meet the same rigorous legal requirements as a search warrant, in order to obtain the location data. The court of appeals called the data "a business record that belongs to the network operator." As such, Fourth Amendment protections shouldn't apply. The new ruling conflicts with those made in other states in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the state of New Jersey said that law enforcement must obtain a search warrant in order to collect location data from cellphone providers.
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