Appeals court rules authorities must obtain search warrant to obtain cellphone location data

Associated Press

A federal appeals court in Virginia has ruled that police must obtain a search warrant to obtain records about cellphone locations in criminal investigations.

The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday's decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals conflicts with two other federal appeals court rulings and increases the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue.

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The case in the Richmond-based appeals court involved two men who were convicted of a series of armed robberies in the Baltimore area. The court said authorities who obtained cellphone tower records tracking the suspects' movements without a warrant violated the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against unreasonable searches.

However, the court upheld the convictions because the government relied in good faith on court orders seeking the data.