Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai | May 5, 2015
Cops no longer need a warrant when seeking cellphone records from wireless carriers in the US a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday—reversing its own decision from last year.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that citizens have no expectation of privacy when it comes to records held by a third party, such as a cellphone company.
The ruling is a significant setback for privacy rights in the digital age—one expert called it “devastatingly bad for privacy”— and runs contrary to trends in several states. In the last couple of years, Montana, Maine, and Minnesota, have all passed laws requiring local police to obtain warrants when requesting cellphone records, including historical location data pulled off of cell phone towers, from phone carriers like AT&T or Verizon.
In this case, prosecutors obtained 11,606 location records from MetroPCS, the cellphone carrier of Quartavious Davis, a suspect in a series of armed robberies. The records showed Davis’ whereabouts based on the cellphone towers that his phone connected to over the span of 67 days.