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Supreme Court: Warrant generally needed to track cell phone location data

 

Washington (CNN)The Supreme Court on Friday said the government generally needs a warrant if it wants to track an individual’s location through cell phone records over an extended period of time.

 

 

The ruling is a major victory for advocates of increased privacy rights who argued more protections were needed when it comes to the government obtaining information from a third party such as a cell phone company. The 5-4 opinion in Carpenter v. United States, was written by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the four most liberal justices.It is a loss for the Justice Department, which had argued that an individual has diminished privacy rights when it comes to information that has been voluntarily shared with someone else.
The opinion, which was limited to cell-site location data, continues a recent trend at the court to boost privacy rights in the digital era and clarifies court precedent as it applies to data held by a third party.
Cell phones play a “pervasive and insistent part of daily life,” Roberts wrote. “Virtually any activity on the phone generates” the data, Roberts said, “including incoming calls, texts, or e-mails and countless other data connections that a phone automatically makes when checking for news, weather, or social media updates.”
“Here the progress of science has afforded law enforcement a powerful new tool to carry out its important responsibilities,” Roberts added. At the same time, he said, “this tool risks Government encroachment of the sort the Framers after consulting the lessons of history, drafted the Fourth Amendment to prevent.”
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The ruling is a major victory for advocates of increased privacy rights who argued more protections were needed when it comes to the government obtaining information from a third party such as a cell phone company 
The 5-4 opinion in Carpenter v. United States, was written by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the four most liberal justices.It is a loss for the Justice Department, which had argued that an individual has diminished privacy rights when it comes to information that has been voluntarily shared with someone else.
The opinion, which was limited to cell-site location data, continues a recent trend at the court to boost privacy rights in the digital era and clarifies court precedent as it applies to data held by a third party.
Cell phones play a “pervasive and insistent part of daily life,” Roberts wrote.
 “Virtually any activity on the phone generates” the data, Roberts said, “including incoming calls, texts, or e-mails and countless other data connections that a phone automatically makes when checking for news, weather, or social media updates.”
 “Here the progress of science has afforded law enforcement a powerful new tool to carry out its important responsibilities,” Roberts added. At the same time, he said, “this tool risks Government encroachment of the sort the Framers after consulting the lessons of history, drafted the Fourth Amendment to prevent.”