Do not use my cell phone to track me

Mark RollinsCriminal Law

reasonable expectation of privacy

Do not use my cell phone to track my location

Anyone who uses a smart phone realizes that they can be used to track your location.   The Courts throughout the country are divided on whether police may use your phone to track your location.  However,  a good case just came out of Maryland (It should be noted that the District of Columbia will be addressing this issue shortly in Prince Jones v. US) determining whether police may use your cell phone to track you.    In Maryland v. Andrews the police used a device called a “stingray” to locate the defendant.    The stingray device essentially mimics a wireless carrier cell tower, this forces cellphones nearby to connect to it.  Using the Stingray device, the police can track you using this device.

The Holding of State of Maryland v. Andrews

The Court held that the Government’s use of a stingray device to convert a defendant’s cell phone into a government tracking device and determine its precise location violates  the 4th amendment.  (using Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967)).

Cell phone users have expectation of Privacy

The Court in Andrews went onto to state that Cell phone users do not reasonably expect that by carrying a cell phone, they consent to government tracking of their movements.

Technology is changing faster than the Law can Keep up

We are at a crossroads in regards to privacy.  The Supreme Court recently decided the Riley case which held that the government needs a warrant to search a cell phone (our blog on the Riley case).   The Supreme Court seems to be receptive to recognizing the technology and privacy rights of individuals.  Google and Apple have vast information at there finger tips.  The balance between whether the government can obtain that information from cell phone carriers, GPS, and search engines will be determined over the next decade.

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