U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Requires Warrants for Location Information Collected by Cell Phone Carriers
As smart phones have become prevalent in society, questions about how privacy law applies to phone data have become more frequent. Often, apps will make records of very specific geographic locations and gather other information that many people consider to be personal. But that collected data doesn’t stay on the phone; it is sent to the various businesses that provide the apps and through the cell phone companies. Where privacy law is concerned, this means that there have been questions about when police have the right to collect private cell phone data from cell phone carriers. Police have argued that since the information is in the possession of a third party–not the person’s own phone–it should not be considered private. The U.S Supreme Court recently weighed in to provide additional guidance in the area of cell phone privacy law.
The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that a person’s physical location information stored by cellular devices cannot generally be retrieved by police without a warrant. The 5-4 opinion in Carpenter v. United States overturns the opinion from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and establishes that the Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches extends to the data that cell phone carriers collect.
The majority opinion issued by Chief Justice John Roberts is here.