Catholic University Law Review
The Third Party Doctrine and Physical Location: The Privacy Implications of Warrantless Acquisition of Historical Cell Site Location Information
The warrantless acquisition of cell site location information (CSLI) by law enforcement implicates serious privacy concerns for all cell phone owners. Through a series of cases in the Circuit Courts of Appeals, the judiciary has declared that there is no expectation of privacy in the historical location of cell phones. The third-party doctrine controls where a cell phone user voluntarily conveys his location to a cell service provider.
This Comment discusses the history of the Fourth Amendment and the development of the expectation of privacy test, the third-party doctrine, and the tracking of vehicles with transponders. This Comment reviews a series of cases dealing with the warrantless acquisition of CSLI by law enforcement and the courts’ uniform response to allow the acquisition of location information under the third-party doctrine. Finally, this Comment argues for a legislative fix to require a warrant before law enforcement can access historical location information due to the large quantities of information that can be gleaned from historical locations alone.
Matthew G. Baker,
The Third Party Doctrine and Physical Location: The Privacy Implications of Warrantless Acquisition of Historical Cell Site Location Information,
Cath. U. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.edu/lawreview/vol66/iss3/10