Police need a warrant to collect certain cellphone information

by | May 29, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Most people in Maryland and across the country have a cellphone. You may use your phone for simple tasks like sending a text, or you may use it to check email, conduct work-related activity, search the internet and more. You could even be among the seemingly decreasing number of people who use their cellphones to make actual calls. Though cellphones add convenience to many people’s lives, they also provide outside parties with information.

Cellphone service providers collect a variety of information from their users, and even if you think you have certain collection permissions turned off, it is almost certain that your information still gets to outside parties in various ways. For example, cellphone providers collect your cell site location information, or CSLI, which can show where a cellphone was at a particular time in relation to cell towers.

Does this make you uneasy?

Essentially, people carry tracking devices on themselves at almost all times. If this makes you uneasy, you may be wise to feel that way. While your CSLI may not have much effect on your life in the long run, it could become a major issue if authorities suspect you of involvement in criminal activity. For instance, if criminal activity has occurred in a certain area and authorities consider you a suspect, they could use your CSLI to determine whether you were in the area at the time of the activity.

Luckily, a decision made by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2018 requires that law enforcement obtain warrants for CSLI and similar information from service providers. The decision stemmed from a case in which authorities used a suspect’s CSLI to determine that he had been in the vicinity of various robberies around the time they occurred.

Protecting suspects’ rights

The right to privacy and against illegal search and seizure is an important part of the Constitution. As technology and the ways in which people use technology changes, decisions like this one can help ensure your constitutional rights. If you have become a suspect in a criminal investigation, it may be worthwhile to ensure that authorities took the necessary steps to obtain warrants and other orders before gathering evidence against you. An experienced criminal defense attorney could ensure that no stone goes unturned with such matters.

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Charles Waechter | Lawyer.com Premium
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