Cops Need A Warrant To Search Your Cell Phone’s Location History, Supreme Court Rules

The Supreme Court just ruled that cops need a search warrant to get information about where people have been from their cell phones.

The 5-4 decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, sets a strong legal limit on how much of your digital data the government can access. But the justices also stressed that these limits apply only to the type of data at question in the case: historical location information. The justices made clear they weren’t weighing in on real-time location records or data related to foreign affairs or national security.

Even so, the ruling is a strong rebuke of the government’s encroachment on technological advances.

Subscribe to VICE News here:

Check out VICE News for more:

Follow VICE News here:
More videos from the VICE network:

42 thoughts on “Cops Need A Warrant To Search Your Cell Phone’s Location History, Supreme Court Rules

  1. The ACLU brought the case, Carpenter v. U.S., on behalf of Timothy Carpenter, who was arrested for a series of robberies around Detroit largely because his cell phone location data put him within two miles of the crimes.

    WATCH NEXT on police data:

  2. The police and FBI do of course ignore your location information if they want to charge you for a crime. They will argue that that info doesn't clear you from prosecution. They like to have it both ways

  3. …It's not like legal codes have always stopped policing and intelligence organizations in the past though. They sometimes find a reason in their own dysfunctional way to break the law.

  4. Guy robbed lot of stores at gunpoint but he got 116 years in federal prison seems long for what he did no one was killed but I see lot less time for others who have done the same. I would think a 20 year sentence would be more fair.

  5. The cops already needed a search warrant to look in your phone's contents. This new ruling pertained to historical cell tower information from the service provider. and before this ruling the cops still needed a judge signed court order to get that. So it wasn't like cell service providers were just handing this information out willy nilly before this court ruling. All this did was up the amount of facts/reasoning/justification level for the police to get the same info to a higher degree (warrant vs previous court order). ie: Judge to police: "Tell me why you need this information and how it's applicable to getting evidence to your investigation." The cops just need to do the same thing investigation wise but now have a bit more to get the same information.

    Some of these comments below are silly. Cops: "Why are you siting here for two hours?" Person: Cause I work there." In reality. evidence gained from tower dumps like this is usually more like." Cops: "Why was your phone pinging at these four different areas at exactly the same time four different robberies occurred." Or "Why was your phone pinging off in the middle of the woods in this deserted lot where nobody goes on the same night as when the body was found dumped the next day by search teams?" Usually the cell tower information is not the sole part of the investigation or a substitute for it. It's just a piece adding too it. So in reality this court case doesn't change how things are done all that much.

  6. I still dont get why the fourth amendment does not seem to apply to digital information or how its even gotten this bad. I mean, obviously a warrant is required for the cops to bust in your home and search your physical mail. Our digital information should be protected as all personal property is. At least now your local insane sheriff cant violate your privacy without a warrant from a judge. But the NSA and federal branches can still access that information without going through the court system, which is pretty fucked up if america is supposed to be a first world country.

  7. This is a mute point. These days the strongest tool the cops have is that they can search cell phone tower data of a location over time, see who was in the area at the approx. time of the crime and bring in anyone who matches the rough description. How do you think the cops find crims so quickly… the dumb crims have their phone in their pocket… smart crims leave it at home. So really, searching a phone after arresting a suspect is just icing on the cake and helps with reinforcing motive via nasty texts etc, the cops already know you where there, even if you don't think they do. So location data on the phone being searched after arrest… meh.

  8. There is an argument on both sides. but if they need to see your phone's location, thwy'll go to court and get a search warrant to see wherr you've been if you're a suspect of a crime

  9. Somehow this infuriates small government conservatives who iguess don't realize the police are just an arm of the government they claim to hate and the cause of the most wasted tax dollars.

  10. Next time I'm gonna commit murder, I'm leaving my smartphone at home. GPS and OnStar® system built into my cars infotainment system notwithstanding.

  11. Police checks my previous location. "Why are you stationery near your house for 2 hours every evening after you get back from work"
    Me – "I sit in my car"
    Cop – "what?"
    Me – "I have a wife"
    Cop – "okay you're free to go sir"

  12. It's shocking how personal things and personal ideas are considered under privacy laws currently and yet not when it's on a new technology such as a cellular phone when all it is and is an extension of previous laws on a new medium

  13. "Not national security surveillance for example" So basically the deeper levels of government such as the NSA and CIA maybe even the DHS can still do this with inpunity but not cops. I see

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.