Lawyers for the United States’ government argued in a federal court this week that mobile phone users do not have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in data disclosing the location of a mobile phone (any by extension, its owner). Such data was analogized to banking documents and other records in the possession of third parties, which documents can be obtained without the need for a “probable cause” search warrant.
This issue arose when the conviction of an alleged drug dealer was overturned by the United States’ Supreme Court on the basis that a government-placed GPS tracker on the accused’s vehicle constituted an illegal search. Now, at the re-trial of the alleged dealer, prosecutors have submitted that the government is entitlement to use mobile phone location data without a search warrant. These data, held by mobile phone companies, were characterized by prosecutors as “routine business records”, and argued that the lack of any physical intrusion obviates the need for a search warrant. .
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