US Supreme Court Issues Decision in Favor of Cell Phone Location Privacy
Today, in Carpenter v. United States, __ US __ (No. 16-406) (June 22, 2018), the United States Supreme Court determined law enforcement must obtain a search warrant to obtain a person’s movements obtained through records tracking cell-phone site locations.
The Court reiterated that individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their physical movements and that allowing the government to access to cell-site records without the necessity of obtaining a search warrant would allow it to have near perfect surveillance of a person’s movements subject to a cell phone carrier’s record retention policy.
In Carpenter, the Government did not obtain a warrant requiring a showing of probable cause required by the Fourth Amendment; it received the records pursuant to a court order under the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. 2703(d), which required the Government to show “reasonable grounds” for believing the records were “relevant to an ongoing investigation.” The Court stated that this standard was insufficient given the ability to continually track a person through such data.
The case may be found at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-402_h315.pdf
Lori G. Levin
Attorney at Law
180 N. LaSalle, Suite 3700
Chicago, IL 60601