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Judge: No Warrant for Cell Tower Location Data

PRIVACY LAW—U.S.

October 14, 2011

A Washington, DC, judge has ruled that police do not need a warrant to obtain cell phone location data collected through cell towers; however, prosecutors must present evidence as to why the information is material to the investigation, reports The Blog of Legal Times. A "reasonable cellular phone customer presumably realizes that his calls are all transmitted by nearby cell-site towers and that cellular phone companies have access to and likely store data regarding the cell-site towers used to place a customer's calls," Judge Royce Lamberth said, adding that the information reveals only an approximate account of users' movements. The U.S. Supreme Court will review a case in November exploring whether ongoing use of GPS technology to monitor a suspect's movements requires a warrant.
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