Supreme Court Weighing Warrants for Cell Phone Location
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. In that case, the Supreme Court decided a suspect had no reasonable expectation of privacy because he dialed phone numbers into his home phone. In so doing, he gave the phone company, a third party, that information. Personal data held by third parties is not as protected as information held by suspects. This third-party doctrine is what allows law enforcement to seek suspects' historical movements from cell phone companies without obtaining a warrant. In more recent cases, the Supreme Court has ruled that the government needs a warrant to seek GPS data and search suspects' cell phones. Today's case, Carpenter v. United States, argues that the third-party doctrine is outdated and that law enforcement seeking such data should be required to obtain a warrant as it would for GPS data. Carpenter's lawyers argued taking location data from a third party without a warrant violates the Fourth Amendment. "Most Americans, I think, still want to avoid Big Brother," noted Justice Sonia Sotomayor, further saying most people take their phones into bathrooms, bedrooms, and dressing rooms, all places where they expect privacy. At least four justices agree with Carpenter's basic argument, according to the Associated Press. The panel of justices will make a decision on the matter by next June.
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.
Nov 17, 2017
Moving forward, New York law enforcement agencies will need to go before a judge and obtain an eavesdropping warrant if they wish to use stingrays to track suspects' cellphones. Stingrays spoof cell towers and fool cell phones into connecting with them.
Dec 15, 2017
The FCC has added a new type of alert to the Emergency Alert System that is specifically meant for law enforcement officers and other first responders. Joining the Amber Alert and Silver Alert, the new Blue Alert can be used by state and local authorities to notify the public of threats to law enforcement and request help in apprehending suspects.