In major privacy ruling, court says police need warrant to track phone users’ location

Gigaom

In a victory for privacy advocates, a federal appeals court in Florida ruled that law enforcement agents cannot force mobile carriers to turn over the location history of their customers without a search warrant.

The case involved an appeal by Quartavius Davis, who was convicted by a jury for his role in a violent armed robbery spree targeting restaurants and gas stations. The evidence included location data gleaned from cellphone towers that showed Davis had been in proximity of the various businesses.

In finding that the police should had obtained a warrant to obtain the location data, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the government violated Davis’ Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.

The case is groundbreaking because higher courts have yet to rule definitively on whether people have a privacy right in the location disclosed by their cell phones. Citing a recent Supreme Court case that suggested police in…

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By J. Catherine Andrew Posted in Blog

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