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Fourth Amendment Does Not Protect Cellphone Location Information
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cellphone tracking information

Summary: The Courts are divided when it comes to deciding if the Fourth Amendment applies to cellphone tracking information, which affects whether a warrant versus an order is required.

The U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit was divided in their decision in United States v. Graham. The government used cellphone location information to determine where two accused robbers were before and after the alleged robberies had taken place. They did not use a warrant to obtain the information but relied on the “good faith” of orders obtained through the Stored Communications Act.


In another case, David v. United States, the Eleventh Circuit found that the criminal defendant had no right to privacy from his cellphone location information. They also found that a Stored Communications Act order or a warrant was good enough to obtain the information.

The petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and private counsel that filed the review of the case wanted the court to state whether the Fourth Amendment protection that requires a warrant applied in this case.

In the first case, the court found that the Stored Communications Act provides no rules on when the government can seek an order over a warrant so the government is allowed to use the “good faith” exception when seeking cellphone location information. The court also found that they are not protected by the Fourth Amendment because they are sharing information with a third party every time their cellphone connects with a tower.

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