The Supreme Court made a landmark decision on Friday in favor of privacy advocates ruling 5-4 authorities must (for the most part) have a warrant to obtain cell phone location data from third party members like carriers. The decision was part of the Carpenter v. United States case that tackled on the subject of privacy and how much people are entitled to during a criminal investigation.
With the Supreme Court’s ruling, defendants are entitled to a reasonable amount of privacy when it comes to their location data.
“Given the unique nature of cell phone location records, the fact that the information is held by a third party does not by itself overcome the user’s claim to Fourth Amendment protection,” stated Chief Justice John Roberts.
The government argued that location information did not fall under a reasonable expectation of privacy because it was controlled by a third party, that being the carriers. But the court did not see it that way as the location records are very sensitive.
Much like warrants to search homes, authorities must have probable cause to obtain the records. The decision was a narrow one and one that takes into account the new age of technology it referred to as a “seismic shift.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling falls in line with the stance major tech companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft have taken regarding privacy.