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U.S. Court: No Warrant Needed to Seize Phone Location Data

Wed, 07/31/2013 - 10:44am
Ben Munson

In another loss for wireless customer privacy, a U.S. court has decided authorities need only a court order to access cell site location data records.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals undid a previous court ruling that protected cell phone location data under the Constitution and that accessing it required a search warrant.

The appeals court invoked the Stored Communications Act in determining the need for a court order, which requires authorities to demonstrate only “reasonable grounds” in order to gain access to the records.

In the court document filed yesterday, the historical cell site location information in question is referred to as a record of cell sites accessed by an individual’s device.

The decision regarding location data comes just months after leaked information revealed the National Security Agency was culling personal data from wireless service providers like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint as well as major tech companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Yahoo!

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