NJ Supreme Court Rules Police Need Warrants to Track Cell Phones

Posted by at 10:46 am on July 19, 2013

newjerseyThe New Jersey State Supreme Court handed citizens of The Garden State a victory against the tracking efforts of law enforcement on Thursday.

The court ruled that police must first obtain a warrant before tracking suspects’ cell phones. The ruling is one of the first such in the country and may set the tone for similar cases around the country. The decision was the result of an appeal made by Thomas Earls, who was arrested on burglary charges in 2006. Earls contended that law enforcement tracked his location via cell phone without obtaining a warrant and in so doing violated his state-protected privacy rights. New Jersey’s state constitution contains stricter privacy safeguards than even the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.

“Cell phones are not meant to serve as tracking devices to locate their owners wherever they may be,” wrote Chief Justice Stuart Rabner of the decision. “People buy cell phones to communicate with others, to use the internet, and for a growing number of other reasons. But no one buys a cell phone to share detailed information about their whereabouts with the police.”

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