Warrantless Cellphone Tracking Is Legal, Federal Court RulesSubmitted by emalvini on Thu, 08/16/2012 - 02:59
Warrantless Cellphone Tracking Is Legal, Federal Court Rules
Helen AS Popkin
An interstate drug trafficker hauling a motorhome filled with marijuana isn’t the most sympathetic defendant. But a federal court’s declaration that Melvin Skinner pretty much should’ve known his pre-paid cellphone could be tracked via GPS — and therefore cops didn’t require a warrant to track him — has repercussions that privacy advocates say deserve your attention.
Even if you don’t drive around in recreational vehicles loaded down more than a thousand pounds of pot.
On Tuesday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that law enforcement officials don’t need a warrant to track suspects via cellphones. Attorneys argued to overturn Skinner’s many convictions, citing that the GPS location information that led to the defendant’s arrest was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures. This didn’t wash with the majority of judges over the case, who voted in a 2-1 ruling.