Tags: US | Cell | Phones | Surveillance

Court: Judges Can Demand Warrant for Phone Locales

Wednesday, 08 Sep 2010 08:28 AM

PHILADELPHIA — A U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia says judges may require warrants for police to get cell phone records that could help track a person's location.

The novel case involves the government's interest in records that show a caller's location during past calls. Cell phone tower records can pinpoint a user's location to within several hundred feet.

Judges in a Pittsburgh drug case had insisted police get a warrant for the data. They say the usage patterns could suggest when show when someone was typically home or elsewhere.

The government appealed, arguing it did not need a warrant under a 1986 statute.

Tuesday's ruling is a victory for electronic privacy groups.

However, the appeals court stopped short of saying warrants are always needed for the cell phone company data.

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