The Supreme Court will hear its first case on cell phone location data involving the government got months of phone location records of a robbery suspect from cellphone companies without a warrant showing probable cause.
Carpenter v. United States seeks to challenge what lawyers representing defendant Timothy Carpenter say is government overreach. The phone records – which covered 127 days and exposed 12,898 data location points – helped convict Carpenter, who then appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the lower court decision and opined that a warrant was not needed under the Fourth Amendment.
“Given the increasing use of new forms of electronic surveillance, it's important now more than ever that the Supreme Court steps in to push back against police overreach and clarify the protections of the Fourth Amendment,” Harold Gurewitz, Carpenter's attorney, said in a release.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has taken up the case. “Because cell phone location records can reveal countless private details of our lives, police should only be able to access them by getting a warrant based on probable cause,” Nathan Freed Wessler, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said in the release. “The time has come for the Supreme Court to make clear that the longstanding protections of the Fourth Amendment apply with undiminished force to these kinds of sensitive digital records.”