Catholic University Law Review


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.