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Court: Government Can Track Your Cell Phone Location Without A Warrant

  • U.S.
  • 08.02.13 07:41 AM EDT

The U.S. government can access your cell phone location data without a search warrant, the fifth circuit court ruled. The decision, which applies to Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, says the data is equivalent to any other business record the phone company would be required to turn over. If citizens want privacy, they said, they can choose to avoid mobile devices. 

"Cell phone users may reasonably want their location information to remain private," the ruling states but says it's up to those users to "lobby elected representatives."

Otherwise, they can fight the phone companies themselves. The classification of data as "business records" means that the phone companies must share them with the Feds when asked, just like any other corporate document. The court said that people can push for providers to stop storing the records at all.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says this is a violation of the Fourth Amendment and Americans' privacy should not be dependent on corporations.

The decision applies to individual phones only, not entire areas at a time.