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Arstechnca: Warrant required for mobile phone location tracking, US appeals court rules

Posted by Soledad Vega on Thu, 08/06/2015 - 12:56

Now the U.S. police might require a warrant to track your phone.

Article by David Kravets for Arstechnica

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that a probable-cause warrant under the Fourth Amendment is required for the police to obtain a suspect's cell-site data.

The decision by the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals gives the Supreme Court, which has never ruled on the issue, ammunition to resolve a modern-day privacy controversy affecting the tens of millions of American mobile phone users. Until Wednesday, all the federal appellate courts that have decided the issue have ruled for the government's proposition that cell-site records are not constitutionally protected.

But the Richmond, Virginia-based appeals court didn't buy the government's assertion that cell-site records are business records investigators may obtain from the telcos by asserting that there are reasonable grounds to believe the data is relevant to an investigation. The government's argument is known in legal jargon as the third-party doctrine. That's a much lower standard than the constitutional, probable-cause standard, according to the appellate court's 2-1 ruling: (PDF)

- Read more at Arstechnica