Your cell phone sends out a signal that reveals where it is. “Can you hear me now? I’m right here.” Therefore, the authorities can find out where it is. If it is with you, then they know where you are.
Doesn’t the Fourth Amendment protect us from unreasonable searches and seizures? According to the 6th Court of Appeals of the U.S. government, cell phone tracking is not unreasonable.
This even applies to a pre-paid cell phone.
This ruling does not apply outside the 6th District. But it is now a legal precedent that law enforcement authorities will use in other districts. It could spread.
The majority opinion said this: “When criminals use modern technological devices to carry out criminal acts and to reduce the possibility of detection, they can hardly complain when the police take advantage of the inherent characteristics of those very devices to catch them.”
The violation came in 2006. It has taken this long to bet a ruling.
The police obtained the phone number from a member of a ring of criminals. He squealed. Maybe the victim should call this a ring tone. One the police had the number, they could follow him.
They got a court order from the cell phone company to find out where he was.
The majority also said: “There is no Fourth Amendment violation because Skinner did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the data given off by his voluntarily procured pay-as-you-go cellphone.” He cited the Stored Communications Act. If a third party provider is involved — phone company — the fourth amendment is weakened.
It turns out that the police did not get a warrant from a judge to track the criminal. The Court ignored this.
Google is going to introduce a smart phone next month for under $200. Before you buy it, find out if Google will know where you live when it tracks how you use this phone to do searches. How could it know? Maybe it will assume that you live wherever the phone is kept — turned off — at night. They are not really ever turned off.
Privacy is pretty much gone these days. I do not think it’s coming back.