Joel Stashenko writes:
Authorities must establish probable cause and secure a warrant before obtaining information from cell phone providers that can indicate the round-the-clock whereabouts of customers, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled yesterday.
Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches apply to the so-called cell-site-location records as surely as judges of a previous generation found that they applied to people using pay phones, Eastern District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis determined yesterday. In fact, he said, cell phones have all but rendered pay phones obsolete as a means of communication and are rarely out of the reach of users.
At issue in Matter of an Application of the United States of America for an Order Authorizing the Release of Historical Cell-Site Information, 10-MC-897, are 113 days of cell-site-location information sought by the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office for a phone issued by AT&T Wireless to Kamal Abdallah.
Authorities said the records might indicate whether Mr. Abdallah, who was under indictment in a criminal case at the time, had violated terms of his release and was planning to jump bail. Government attorneys told Judge Garaufis they believe Mr. Abdallah may have traveled outside the United States under an alias in violation of his release terms.
The U.S. attorney sought the records from Verizon wireless under 18 U.S.C,. §§2703(c)(1)(d), which is also known as the Stored Communications Act.
Read more on New York Law Journal.