Federal court: no warrant is required for law enforcement to track your location via cell phone records
Thursday, August 1, 2013
A federal appeals court has ruled that law enforcement agencies are not required to obtain a warrant in order to track your location through your cell phone records.
This is hardly a surprising decision given that other judges have said that cell phone users have “no legitimate expectation of privacy,” some in the house have said no warrant should be required to acquire geolocation data, and the Obama administration claims location data is not protected by the Fourth Amendment.
The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans supported this trend earlier the week by overturning a federal judge in Houston, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The court ruled that cell phone records are the property of your carrier and thus are not protected by the Fourth Amendment’s probable cause standard.
However, authorities must still get a court order in order to carry out a search of your cell phone records, though the standards are much lower than those required for search warrants.
Those searches are now capable of tracking your recent movements since location data is included.
“We understand the cell phone users may reasonably want their location information to remain private,” the Appeals Court stated, according to an Associated Press report.
“The Fourth Amendment, safeguarded by the courts, protects only reasonable expectations of privacy,” the court ruled.