Beating the man at his own game on Monday, a federal judge from the Eastern District of New York denied the US government's application asking Verizon Wireless
to hand over 113 days of customer location data. Washington has long debated whether or not the Constitution protects modern day communications that include a third party (like cell phone conversations supported by a carrier company), and non-conversational meta data (like cellular GPS location data). Some say that buying a cell phone and using a carrier's services waives one's privacy rights in that data, while others claim we have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such info under the Fourth Amendment. In making his decision, Judge Nicholas Garaufis held that "the fiction that the vast majority of the American population consents to warrantless government access to the records of a significant share of their movements by 'choosing' to carry a cell phone must be rejected."
As communications tech continues to change, these questions will likely be revisited. That's why Judge Garaufis went on to say that "in light of drastic developments in technology, the Fourth Amendment doctrine must evolve to preserve cell-phone user's reasonable expectation of privacy in cumulative cell-site-location records." Get the full opinion by clicking the source below.
*Verizon has acquired AOL, Engadget's parent company. However, Engadget maintains full editorial control, and Verizon will have to pry it from our cold, dead hands.