Law Enforcement

Warrantless Cell Phone Locations


Using Cellular Technology To Locate Criminals

cell-phone-trackingFor years, police departments and government agencies have called upon a vast array of technological gadgets and gizmos to uncover criminal activity. These items have included hidden cameras, wire taps, GPS tracking systems and more. However, some forms of surveillance technology have been met with a high level of criticism, and some applications have been so controversial that they had to be evaluated by the high courts. This was the case of police using tracker devices without warrants to track down where potential criminal suspects would travel in their personal automobiles. Although the proper protocol for police use of GPS monitoring systems is now in place, the law enforcement use of cellular towers to determine locational data of potential suspects is still a very large concern for privacy advocates, police departments and attorneys everywhere.

The use of GPS vehicle tracker systems without warrant was common practice for years among police agencies, even though some felt it was an invasion of personal privacy. However, the Supreme Court would eventually rule that police departments must acquire a warrant before placing any GPS monitoring device on an automobile. Unfortunately for prosecutors in Washington D.C., this significant ruling led to key evidence against a nightclub owner named Antoine Jones involved in a large cocaine trafficking enterprise being thrown out. Although it would initially appear as though a criminal found a legal loop hole to get away with his criminal endeavors, it now appears police and prosecutors involved in this case will instead try and keep the conviction intact by using data obtained from cellular triangulation and cell phone records.

Cell phones are incredible pieces of technology that allow people to place and receive phone calls, check emails, connect with friends through social networking and more, but these devices are also data farms that even store information regards to locational data. Basically, this means cell phones are storing every place a person goes, how long they were at specific locations and more. This is done through the use of the GPS monitoring chip manufactured in every mobile phone and cell towers.

“Every so often a court case pushes the highest courts to decide on the appropriate use of cutting edge technology many police departments and government agencies use to gain the upper hand on criminal activities”, a GPS fleet tracking expert for Tracking System Direct stated. “However, if federal prosecutors can determine through cellular locational records that the controversial case regarding Antoine Jones was in the places GPS devices earlier showed him being at then the case could potentially reach the Supreme Court again. Defense attorneys would once again discuss probable cause, but since no legislation prohibits police from accessing locational data from cellular phones it could fall upon the judgement of the courts once again to decide.”

Warrantless Access Of Locational Data: Opinion

Society is more connected now than ever before, but does that mean police should be allowed access to historical locational data from cell phones to make arrests or build evidence?

Should legislators or courts mandate police enforcement acquire a warrant before accessing any locational data gathered from cell phones?


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