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Federal appeals court rules search warrants not needed to seize cellphone records

Alexis Santos
July 31, 2013
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Cast your memory back to 2011 and you may remember a Texas judge ruling that the seizure of cellphone records without a search warrant violated the Fourth Amendment. Fast-forward to today, and the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals has just overturned that very decision, arguing that law enforcement's collection of such data does not violate the Fourth Amendment, and doesn't need to pass the probable cause test. Instead, as the info is considered a service provider's business records, authorities can get ahold of it so long as they have "reasonable grounds" and obtain a court order. The data in question can include numbers dialed, the date and time of communications and info allowing officials to suss out the phone's location at the time of a call.

Despite the gavel's recent action, the issue is far from settled. As the Associated Press notes, a New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled search warrants must be used when officers request access to location information from phones details, while Maine and Montana passed legislation earlier this year requiring the same. To dive into the nitty gritty details of the case for yourself, give the bordering source link a click.

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