Groups Urge Supreme Court to Consider Warrantless Access to Cell Location Data

The Constitution Project joined with several other privacy groups to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a case to determine whether the Constitution requires police to obtain a warrant based on probable cause before requesting cell phone location history records from a telephone company.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed on Aug. 31, the groups said, “Given the government’s newfound ability to track people for extended periods of time through cell site location information, the corresponding constitutional responsibility is to insist police use a probable cause search warrant to obtain this sensitive information.”

“Cell location data can reveal the most intimate details of a person’s personal life, including professional, political, religious and medical associations,” said TCP President Virginia Sloan in a press release. “For the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches to have any meaning in the digital age, the courts must demand law enforcement officials seek a warrant before accessing it,” she said.

TCP joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Center for Democracy and Technology, and National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers in filing the brief.

The case involves a Florida man, Quartavious Davis, who was convicted of seven armed robberies in 2010. In order to place Davis in the vicinity of six of the seven robberies that occurred in the Miami area, police obtained from his carrier without a warrant 67 days’ worth of his cellphone location records, detailing more than 11,000 specific cell site locations.

Earlier this year, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the police’s warrantless access to the data did not infringe on Davis’ Fourth Amendment rights, which protect against unreasonable search and seizure. Davis is asking the Supreme Court to consider his case. The friend-of-thecourt brief supports his request.

Donate Now

US Constitution

Upcoming Events