A divided Supreme Court ruled today that the police need a warrant to obtain records from your cell phone company.
The 5-4 decision shifts away from a long list of court rulings that records held by a third party fall outside of 4th Amendment protection. That earlier view reasoned that a person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy because the records are stored at a company where many people can access the data.
The majority opinion stated that cell phone records are different than other records because people have become so reliant on their phones and tend to have them in their possession at all times. This causes cell data to track your every move, which would give police the ability to track you virtually anywhere - without obtaining a warrant. While the court expanded protections for cell phone records, it left open the possibility that police can still obtain the records without a warrant in some situations.
The dissenting opinion did not see a legal justification for a difference between cell phone records and other types of records, such as banking or landline telephone records under the third party doctrine.