SUPREME PRIVACY: Court Says Police Need a Warrant to Get Cell Tracking Records

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The Justice Department suffered a digital-age defeat Friday at the Supreme Court, which sided with the privacy rights of cell phone users in a dispute over law enforcement tracking their movements.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court said law enforcement generally will need a warrant for such searches.

Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote.

At issue is whether the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment requires a search warrant for the government to access a person’s cell phone location history. It is the latest foray by the justices into how laws should be tailored to keep up with technological advances.

The stakes were enormous since this judicial precedent could be applied more broadly, including government access to the Internet, bank, credit card and telephone records.