Police can now capture your Phones Location and Data, without Warrant

Published: May 05, 2015 19:23pm EDT
By Rick Rinker, Political Editor for Konsume Technology

Please Note: This article was updated May 05, 2015 @ 07:23pm EDT


Today the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that when it comes to capturing a detailed history of where your cell phone has been, who you have called and other data collected by Telecoms and data providers, you have no expectation of privacy. As such, Police and Investigators do not need a warrant.

Over a 67 day period prosecutors were able to establish 11,606 location timestamps of Quartavious Davis’ cell phone. Davis who was on trial for armed robbery, had argued that the introduction of cellphone data, pinpointing his exact location at all times, was a violation of his Fourth Amendment right and constitutes an unreasonable search.

The court ruled that data collected from third-parties such as Facebook, Google, Telecom carriers and ISP’s are all exempt from Fourth Amendment search and seizure protections as it falls under the “third party doctrine.”

Essentially the third party doctrine states that any data collected by a third party, rather than from an individual suspect, is not subject to privacy safeguards.

In a 9-2 decision the court reversed itself on the issue of data collection and privacy, paving the way for a Supreme Court hearing to decide the matter.

An attorney for the defendant, David O. Markus, said, "Unfortunately, the majority is stuck in the early `80s when cell-phones were the size of bricks and cost $3,000. The cases from that long-ago era aren't helpful in today's world."

This week’s ruling comes amid revelations that the FBI is supplying local law enforcement with cell phone tracking technology receivers called “Sting Rays”, which essentially trick targeted phones into connecting to a spoofed cell tower in order to retrieve location and other data for the use in surveillance and investigative police work.

The likelihood that the Supreme Court will deal with this issue seems probable, though the implication for Fourth Amendment rights in a digital age are hanging by a threat as a result of this decision.


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