- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2017

The Supreme Court will take up a case looking at whether police can peruse someone’s cell phone location records without first getting a warrant, the justices announced Monday, adding another high-profile civil liberties case to the docket for their next session.

The high court agreed to hear an appeal from a case in Detroit, where prosecutors used data detailing an armed robbery suspect’s locations from his cell phone data history to help convict him. The police had obtained those records by request, but didn’t go to court to get a warrant.

An appeals court upheld the conviction, saying checking those records isn’t considered a search under the Fourth Amendment, so no warrant is needed.

Civil liberties groups are begging for the court to overturn the ruling, saying cell location information can paint a most intimate picture of someone’s life — exactly the kind of information that the Fourth Amendment was intended to protect.

“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,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union. “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.”

The Supreme Court’s next term begins in October.


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