Tech Tips, 0818 WYBJ, Vol. 41 No. 4. 54

Author:BLAKE A. KLINKNER THE KLINKNER LAW FIRM, LLC CHEYENNE, WYOMING.
Position:Vol. 41 4 Pg. 54
 
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Tech Tips

Vol. 41 No. 4 Pg. 54

Wyoming Bar Journal

August, 2018

BLAKE A. KLINKNER THE KLINKNER LAW FIRM, LLC CHEYENNE, WYOMING.

In ruling that cell phone tracking information is subject to 4th Amendment warrant requirements, the U.S. Supreme Court hopes not to "embarrass the future"

Is a warrant required before the government may obtain cell phone tracking records from wireless providers? In the recent case of Carpenter v. United States, the United States Supreme Court answered this question in the affirmative for most types of routine criminal investigations.[1] Considering how ubiquitous cell phones are in modern society - and the staggering amount of detailed and constant information cell phones may reveal about their users - many civil rights and privacy advocates hailed the Carpenter decision as a major victory. However, a careful reading of Carpenter suggests that its utility in extending Fourth Amendment protections to our digital footprint is likely more limited than may be assumed.

In Carpenter, the government suspected that Mr. Carpenter was the ringleader in a series of store robberies.[2] Accordingly, prosecutors applied for court orders requiring Carpenter's wireless carriers to produce "cell-site location information" for Carpenter's phone. "Cell-site location information" refers to time- and location-stamped data logs maintained by wireless carriers which pinpoint the geographic location of a cell phone throughout the day.[3] The court issued orders for Carpenter's cell-site location information pursuant to the Stored Communications Act, which requires the disclosure of various telecommunications records when the government "offers specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the records sought are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation."[4] The records provided by Carpenter's wireless provider showed that Carpenter was present near each store at the time they were robbed. Carpenter moved the trial court to suppress the cell-site location records because they were not obtained by a warrant supported by probable cause, but the court denied this motion and Carpenter was...

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