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Court Rules Cell Location Data Fair Game

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Apr 15, 2016, 7:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

The U.S. Court of Appeals has sided with the government and ruled that law enforcement can gather cell location records without first obtaining a warrant. The case involves a string of armed robberies that took place between 2010 and 2011. When caught, one suspect volunteered his cell phone. Police used that phone and the records within to ascertain the general location of other suspects. Cell location data is accurate between one-half and 2 miles. The other suspects claimed their Fourth Amendment rights were violated, as the police did not get a warrant before gathering those phone records. "Those records say nothing about the content of any calls. Instead the records include routing information, which the wireless providers gathered in the ordinary course of business," argued the appellate court. "Carriers necessarily track their customers' phones across different cell-site sectors to connect and maintain their customers' calls. And carriers keep records of these data to find weak spots in their network and to determine whether roaming charges apply, among other purposes. Thus, the cell-site data — like mailing addresses, phone numbers, and IP addresses — are information that facilitate personal communications, rather than part of the content of those communications themselves. The government's collection of business records containing these data therefore is not a search." The court's decision reflects that of two other cases that reached the same conclusion. The U.S. Supreme court has yet to weigh in on this issue, and likely won't until a fourth case involving similar arguments goes through the appeals process.

more info at U.S. Court of Appeals »
more info at Ars Technica »

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Comments

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This forum is closed.

Zpike

Apr 22, 2016, 4:35 PM

There's something like this every day it seems

It's not that hard to get a warrant. The government just wants the unfettered freedom to spy on us and infringe our privacy at will. I hope the corrupt judge that found in favor of this finds himself unemployed and broke soon.
 
 
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