Court: Warrantless Cell Tracking Illegal

A panel of three federal judges ruled Wednesday that investigators are required to get a search warrant if they want to use cellphone tracking data. “While committing a crime is certainly not within a legitimate expectation of privacy, if the cell site location data could place him near those scenes, it could place him near any other scene,” the judges decided. “There is a reasonable privacy interest in being near the home of a lover, or a dispensary of medication, or a place of worship, or a house of ill repute.” Therefore, the police will now need a court order to obtain the records. The case involved Quartavious Davis, who was sentenced to 162 years in prison for multiple violent armed robberies. Prosecutors had used cellphone-tower data to place him near the robberies. However, the court did not overturn his sentence in its ruling. The ruling will apply to Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.