Supreme Court to Weigh Accessibility of Cell Location Data
The Supreme Court today said it will hear a case regarding whether or not law enforcement can access certain types of cell location data without a warrant. As it stands today, the government does not need to get a warrant when seeking location and other information held by phone companies. In a 1979 court case, Smith v. Maryland, the Supreme Court decided that a suspect had no reasonable expectation of privacy (with respect to his location) because he willingly dialed phone numbers into his home phone, thus providing the phone company, a third party, with that data. Personal data held by third parties is not as protected as information held by the actual suspect. This third-party doctrine is still being applied today in lower courts and is what allows law enforcement to seek suspects' historical movements from cell phone companies without obtaining a warrant. Since the 1979 case, the Supreme Court has ruled that the government needs a warrant to seek GPS data, as well as to search cell phones of suspects. A new case, Carpenter v. United States, argues that the third-party doctrine is, essentially, outdated and that law enforcement seeking such data should be required to obtain a warrant as it would for GPS data. More specifically, Carpenter alleges that gleaning location data from a third party without a warrant violates the Fourth Amendment. Given the varying decisions on this matter from lower courts, the Supreme Court will hear Carpenter v. United States to provide the needed guidance moving forward.
Supreme Court Weighing Warrants for Cell Phone Location
Nov 29, 2017
The Supreme Court today heard a case regarding whether or not law enforcement can access certain types of cell location data without a warrant. Government agencies do not currently need a warrant when requesting location and other data held by phone companies thanks to a 1979 court case.
Apple, Google, Others Weigh In On Supreme Court Data Case
Aug 15, 2017
Apple and a handful of technology companies are asking the Supreme Court to carefully consider the potential adverse outcomes if law enforcement is given warrantless access to personal information, such as location data. The companies filed a brief with the Supreme Court, which will soon hear a case about how law enforcement gleaned a suspect's location by taking the data from a third party without a warrant.
Judge Says Law Enforcement Needs Warrant to Use Stingrays
Jul 13, 2016
A federal judge has tossed evidence discovered by Drug Enforcement Administration officers after they used a Stingray to locate a suspect without a warrant. The case involves a drug trafficking ring in New York City.
Court Rules Cell Location Data Fair Game
Apr 15, 2016
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.