Monday, August 10, 2015

Federal Appeals Panel Rules Cell Phone Tracking Data Held by Service Providers is protected by Fourth Amendment

Law enforcement agencies must obtain a warrant to get tracking data from mobile phone companies, according to a decision by a federal appeals court.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (pdf) Wednesday in a 2-1 decision that just because a third party holds information, it does not mean that it can be made freely available to police.

“People cannot be deemed to have volunteered to forfeit expectations of privacy by simply seeking active participation in society through use of their cell phones,” Senate Circuit Judge Andre Davis wrote for the majority.

The case was one of an armed robber whose whereabouts were traced over a seven-month period via data provided to prosecutors by Sprint.

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