US Court Says No Warrant Needed For Cellphone Location Data

Dustin Volz, reporting for Reuters: Police do not need a warrant to obtain a person’s cellphone location data held by wireless carriers, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Tuesday, dealing a setback to privacy advocates. The full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, voted 12-3 that the government can get the information under a decades-old legal theory that it had already been disclosed to a third party, in this case a telephone company. The ruling overturns a divided 2015 opinion from the court’s three-judge panel and reduces the likelihood that the Supreme Court would consider the issue. The decision arose from several armed robberies in Baltimore and Baltimore County, Maryland, in early 2011, leading to the convictions of Aaron Graham and Eric Jordan. The convictions were based in part on 221 days of cellphone data investigators obtained from wireless provider Sprint, which included about 29,000 location records for the defendants, according to the appeals court opinion.

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