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Supreme Court Says Warrant Required for Cell-Based Location Searches

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Jun 22, 2018, 9:35 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement must generally obtain a search warrant in order to track people via cell phone towers. The 5-4 ruling sided with the defendant in a case where police discovered a suspect's whereabouts through cell phone records without first getting a warrant. The Supreme Court said gathering location data from wireless carriers without a warrant fits the definition of unreasonable search and seizure, a violation of the Fourth Amendment. "The Fourth Amendment protects not only property interests but certain expectations of privacy as well," read the ruling, as cell tower records often "give the Government near perfect surveillance." This ruling sets the legal precedent and will likely impact current and future cases.

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