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 A new case, Carpenter v. United States, argues that the third-party doctrine is, essentially, outdated and that law enforcement seeking such data should be required to obtain a warrant as it would for GPS data.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.
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.
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.
Mar 15, 2018
The CLOUD Act would give law enforcement both at home and abroad new access to Americans' personal data in violation of the Fourth Amendment, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The CLOUD Act (H.R.
Jun 22, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement must generally obtain a search warrant in order to track people via cell phone towers.
Dec 20, 2016
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a bipartisan panel, this week recommended that the federal government pass rules to manage the use stingrays and other cell-site simulating devices. The panel said in a report that law enforcement agencies have varying and inconsistent rules for the use of such devices.