Supreme Court says government generally needs warrant to obtain cellphone location information

Source: Washington Examiner | June 22, 2018 | Melissa Quinn

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday in a blockbuster Fourth Amendment case that the government generally must have a warrant to obtain a cellphone user’s location information from a cellphone company.

The court ruled 5-4 in the case, and Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion. He was joined by the liberal justices.

With its ruling, the Supreme Court reversed a ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and sent the case back to the lower court.

“We decline to grant the state unrestricted access to a wireless carrier’s database of physical location information. In light of the deeply revealing nature of [cell site location information], its depth, breadth, and comprehensive reach, and the inescapable and automatic nature of its collection, the fact that such information is gathered by a third party does not make it any less deserving of Fourth Amendment protection,” Roberts wrote. “The government’s acquisition of the cell-site records here was a search under that amendment.”

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