Fourth Circuit Court Rules No Warrant Needed to Pull Carrier-Based Location Data

Posted by at 10:26 am on June 1, 2016

US-CourtOfAppeals-4thCircuit-SealA U.S. appeals court said law enforcement does not need to obtain a warrant before obtaining location data from wireless network operators.

The decision stems from an appeal based on a Baltimore case involving armed robberies from 2011. Citing a decades-old idea suggesting consumers routinely allow their phone service provider to know their location, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, reversed a divided opinion from last year.

The majority (12-3) opinion held that “Anyone who has stepped outside to ‘get a signal,’ or has warned a caller of a potential loss of service before entering an elevator, understands, on some level, that location matters.”

A ruling last year from the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court agreed that no warrant is needed. The Supreme Court has refused to review similar cases. A lawyer for the ACLU argued that the matter has not been finalized by the courts.

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