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The Jones GPS Case Gives Rise to New Question Re: Cellphone Location Data

The Jones GPS CaseWe have discussed the case of U.S. v. Jones, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held in February that the attaching of a global positioning satellite (GPS) device constituted a search. Well, the government is attempting to re-try the defendant, Antoine Jones. And this time it is seeking to introduce location data from Jones’ cellphone at trial, instead of GPS tracking data.

According to Wired, the prosecution argued to the Court, in response to a motion by Jones to suppress his cellphone location data, that individuals have no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in cellphone location data. Counsel for the government contended that the data is similar to banking records, which are records created by third-parties which individuals possess no right to keep private. The government also argued that cellphone users create the risk that cellular service providers will create records of which cell towers host their telephone calls. There is furthermore no physical intrusion in gathering cellphone location data. The government maintains, therefore, that it does not require probable cause in order to obtain a warrant for cellphone location data. The defense, naturally, has disagreed.

Following the Supreme Court’s earlier decision, the FBI ceased its use of approximately 3,000 GPS tracking devices.

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