Extract from Colin Lecher’s article “Supreme Court decides against warrantless location searches in a major privacy decision”
In a major decision on privacy in the digital age, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 today that police must generally obtain a warrant to seize cellphone tower location records.
The case, Carpenter v. United States, centered on whether there was a reasonable expectation of privacy when location records were held by a third party, like a phone carrier, and was closely watched for its Fourth Amendment implications.
“Given the unique nature of cell phone location records, the fact that the information is held by a third party does not by itself overcome the user’s claim to Fourth Amendment protection,” the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, reads. Location information obtained by police should generally be considered a search, and law enforcement should have to reach a probable cause standard to obtain those records, the court ruled.