back to article In huge privacy win, US Supreme Court rules warrant needed to slurp folks' location data

In a decision that will define privacy in the digital age, the US Supreme Court decided 5-4 on Friday that the government needs a warrant to access its citizens' mobile phone location data. Written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the four liberal justices, the majority opinion extended the Fourth Amendment on …

  1. doublelayer Silver badge

    Victory! for now

    I'm very glad to hear this. I hope this is the first step in the advancement of most privacy-respecting regulations, as more and more data is deemed to be personal enough. Here's to the spirit of this decision living on for as long as possible.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Victory! for now

      siding, even slightly, on the side of privacy, is a good trend.

      "Get a warrant". works for me.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Victory! for now

        The next day ICE were granted a warrant or all areas within 100mi of a border, coast or international airport, the warrant is valid for 99 years.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Victory! for now

      "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance"

      Against dictators

      Against idiots

      Against data fetishists.

      Yes, it's a narrow judgement that steers clear of National Security, but it rules that a kind of meta data cannot be slurped willynilly because some cop wants it.

      That's a start.

  2. ecarlseen

    Orin Kerr is posting on the subject.

    USC law professor Orin Kerr, a well-known expert on computer crime and internet surveillance law, has been updating a Q&A format post on this decision. He seems to be less excited (from libertarian / pro-privacy perspective) about it than most.

    Personally, I'm most interested in Gorsuch's thinking in his dissent. It seems like he wanted to hold out for much broader protections - so the case may not be as tight as it appears. I find it almost ironic that Trump's appointee has been pretty solid on civil liberties.

    1. ecarlseen

      Gorsuch's dissent FTW.

      As I'm assuming that most of the people here are on the pro-privacy side of this, I would encourage them to check out Gorsuch's dissent in this case - he disagreed because he thought the decision didn't go far enough and just muddied the waters to make the law even more confusing and unpredictable.

      His analysis (coincidentally, often referring to the work of Professor Kerr whose Q&A on the decision I linked above), is basically that the Third Party Doctrine is a terrible idea that the Supreme Court pulled out of its ass, that's it's based on flawed thinking, incompatible with the letter and spirit of not only other parts of the US Constitution (including Fifth Amendment protections against coerced self-incrimination) but many modern regulatory requirements as well, is arbitrary in its limits and impossible to articulate in an empirical manner which in turn leads to endless judicial confusion, and even goes so far to lament that the way the case was filed didn't give the court a lot of room to broaden protections here while suggesting some ways that attorneys in future cases might structure their arguments so as to give the Supreme Court more room to make corrections. His snarky comparison of law enforcement to raccoons raiding trash cans is just a bonus. He even appears to shows some sympathy for a European-style ownership of personal data.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Gorsuch's dissent FTW.

        If Gorsuch believes all that, then why did he dissent from the judgment? You're allowed to add a minority opinion even if you voted with the majority, you know.

        Words are all very fine, but at the end of the day what sets the precedent is the decision.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Gorsuch's dissent FTW.

          The funny/sad thing is that most of the people who are voting specifically to get conservative (or in fewer cases, liberal) justices are doing so for only two issues. Abortion and gun rights. If they care about privacy at all it is way down their list of priorities, and they'd gladly give it up to get justices who will go their way on those core issues.

          Its almost to the point where I wish we could have two courts, one to handle the hot button politically tinged issues, and one that handles everything else - where the justices appointed to it are appointed because they are great legal minds like used to be the case until the "moral majority" started a crusade for appointing justices who will overturn Roe v Made.

          Now we get justices appointed because they are young enough they can stay on the court for decades, and their voting record is so hyper-partisan that there seems little chance they might moderate their views as they get older. Whether they are the best possible choice for a judge on the highest court in the land is irrelevant to modern presidents.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: Gorsuch's dissent FTW.

            > justices who will overturn Roe v Made.

            You just wade that up!

          2. flayman

            Re: Gorsuch's dissent FTW.

            I just wish we could have one court that wasn't so political. That's the way it's supposed to be. That's sort of how it works in Britain. But the written Constitution in the US and the ability of the SCOTUS to declare laws unconstitutional against the back drop of a now virtually impossible constitutional amendment mechanism has meant that the Court's appointment system is hugely politically charged and the justices themselves are mindful of advancing their own political ideologies.

        2. ecarlseen

          Re: Gorsuch's dissent FTW.

          "If Gorsuch believes all that, then why did he dissent from the judgment? You're allowed to add a minority opinion even if you voted with the majority, you know."

          1) Because a "win" is a "win." A 9-0 decision counts the same as a 5-4 decision. I strongly suspect that if the case would have gone the other way then he may have changed his vote, but...

          2) He thought the majority opinion made things worse from a privacy perspective, and he's right.

          Unfortunately, people tend to look at Supreme Court decisions through the lens of the case being addressed rather than the effects the decision will have on cases down the road. This was not a "huge win" no matter how many journalists claim it is. If you look at the reasoning of the majority - which is what will guide thousands of future judicial decisions in lower courts - they're saying they're completely fine with the concept of Third Party (with Sotamayor expressing some relatively mild reservations). They're just not sure how fine they are with it. As a practical matter, they set the tiniest possible limit and made it explicitly clear that nobody should read anything further into it in terms of weakening Katz (the original case back in the 1960s that started the Third Party mess). Best case is that maybe a very small number of people have their privacy rights respected. In the mean time, far more (orders of magnitude more) defendants will be faced with astronomical legal bills trying to sort this dumpster fire out.

          From a privacy standpoint the majority opinion is a complete shit show, and Gorsuch wanted exactly zero part of it. He made it pretty clear in his dissent that he wants to burn Third Party to the ground and then piss on the ashes.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Gorsuch's dissent FTW.

            The question is, would "burning third party to the ground and pissing on the ashes" result in a different decision in this case? It's a yes/no question.

            If no, then the question remains "why vote against the majority?'

            If yes, then the question becomes "how do Gorsuch's high-minded opinions actually represent a net improvement to the private citizen?"

        3. flayman

          Re: Gorsuch's dissent FTW.

          I suppose he didn't join the majority opinion because he felt it was not drafted narrowly enough that he could put his name to it. If they were going to lose and needed another vote then they would have had to bargain away some of their position.

    2. Eddy Ito

      Re: Orin Kerr is posting on the subject.

      I have to admit this one took me slightly off guard. I had figured Alito, as a former AG, was a given pro-cop and maybe Thomas as a former assistant AG but Kennedy was a surprise. Gorsuch, I think, dissented only because he had a good feel for the rest of the court and knew he could afford to dissent in the way he did.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Orin Kerr is posting on the subject.

      "I find it almost ironic that Trump's appointee has been pretty solid on civil liberties."

      I don't, not at all. You can't believe the fake-media perceptions and pre-conceptions if you want to understand this. An "originalist" with respect to constitutional law would ALWAYS side with freedom and protection of individual rights, i.e. "non-statism". 4th ammendment.

      (that's who Trump and Gorsuch REALLY are, by the way - don't believe the nonsense)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Orin Kerr is posting on the subject.

        "You can't believe the fake-media perceptions and pre-conceptions if you want to understand this."

        What is "fake-media"? Is that like a DVD made of paper?

      2. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Orin Kerr is posting on the subject.

        Wish I could upvote you more, Bob.

      3. flayman

        "who Trump and Gorsuch REALLY are"

        "(that's who Trump and Gorsuch REALLY are, by the way - don't believe the nonsense)"

        Right. Maybe that's how Gorsuch really is. Not Trump. Donald Trump is a man of no principle and poor character. If there's any one thing that defines Trump it is that he cares exclusively about anything that benefits Trump, his family, and his friends. Anything that impedes his plans is an enemy, and he's generally not interested in what comes up neutral. America First, as long as he's right at the front of that. Seriously, how can anyone still be standing up for this guy?

    4. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Orin Kerr is posting on the subject.

      Most of Trump's judicial appointments have been more or less similar to Gorsuch's, and based, as he promised during the election campaign, on recommendations of the Federalist Society, a generally Libertarian leaning group funded partly by the Kochs, who overall are rather unsupportive of Trump and most of the Trump program. I do not see Gorsuch's leaning in favor of civil liberties and rights at all ironic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Orin Kerr is posting on the subject.

        If the justices are picked for being libertarians it is ironic given that an authoritarian like Trump is about as far from a libertarian as you can get. Not that he really cares about the judges he picks, beyond them making his base and the real billionaires who provided all his campaign finance happy. His base wants anti abortion pro gun judges, and that's about all they care about. The Kochs want judges who will let corporations run roughshod over the environment leaving someone else to deal with the consequences.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "So warrantless spying is still fine."

    More likely that this only involves one questioned means of gathering information so only governs that. It doesn't say that other cases involving other means couldn't be ruled on at other hearings and make use of this precedent.

  4. Hardrada

    something missed...

    Kieren forgot to mention what is almost certainly the most striking result: Justice Gorsuch dissented because he wanted an _even stronger_ rejection of warrantless tracking than what Roberts, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan agreed to in the majority opinoin. His argument was that cell tower tracking data belongs to the person it refers to, and that the earlier precedents the majority awkwardly danced around should have been reversed instead.

    Gorsuch is likely to be around for a long time, and this may hint at what can be expected of him.

    1. ecarlseen

      Re: something missed...

      Yup, I'm reading Gorsuch's dissent right now, and he quotes Professor Orin Kerr (coincidentally, the guy whose analysis I linked above) as saying “third-party doctrine is not only wrong, but horribly wrong.”

      I'm pretty excited about the long-term prospects of Gorsuch's influence on civil liberties matters in the US. He's been excellent overall so far - not just the individual decisions, but the reasoning behind them.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: something missed...

        I have to agree I'm becoming a fan of Gorsuch with nearly every decision. In the long run, I'm beginning to think we in the U.S got lucky with all the shenanigans involving former prosecutor Garland and wound up dodging a bullet.

    2. Trollslayer

      Re: something missed...

      The surprising thing is that Gorusch is that he was appointed during Trump's reign.

      Fully committed to the law and ignores the politics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: something missed...

        I doubt any of those advising Trump on his selection even bothered to look into Gorsuch's voting record beyond seeing enough to conclude he would vote their way on abortion and second amendment issues. The rest is irrelevant to them. Looks like we got lucky with him, hopefully there are some other nice surprises to make up for him possibly voting to overturn Roe v Wade someday.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: something missed...

          You really, really, don't understand the factions inside the Republican party work. It is true that every pressure group, inside and out, is concerned with its pet priority(ies). That's representative democracy. But guns & abortion is not the extent of the GoP platform precisely because it is not the extent of the factions within the Republican party. In 1994, the Clipper chip was proposed between the time of the county & state conventions. In response, I went early to our state convention, and got electronic privacy added to the platform. It's a shame that I did not know about cell phone tracking.

          So yes, there are plenty of us in the Republican party that are more than a little bit unhappy with the implications of a Democrat DOJ having snooping powers at this level. (Many of us are not happy that a Republican administration might have these as well.) These concerns can be seen in the platforms at the state level.

          Any presumption that these concerns were or were not raised as candidate Trump drew up his List of 50 is precisely that--a presumption.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: something missed...

            If they were raised with Trump it would only serve to have him cut the person from the list. Trump sees himself as a "law and order" guy, and sees that in very black and white terms. Cops are good, and should be able to do whatever they want to get their man (unless their man is Trump himself, or those he favors)

            Remember what he said about Apple in their little tiff with the FBI a couple years ago? Trump obviously would disagree with the Supreme Court ruling and if he's made aware of Gorsuch's action might have a bit of regret that he picked him over one of the others on the list given to him.

            1. tom dial Silver badge

              Re: something missed...

              Whatever else may be true, Donald Trump is not a deep or original thinker, nor is he educated or otherwise knowledgeable about the Constitution he swore to defend or the laws it requires that he take care be faithfully executed. Much of what he says can and should be ignored far more than it is.

              He has been heavily and correctly criticized for the scarcity and sometimes questionable character of his executive branch appointments. His judicial nominations, however, have mostly been quite good, and recommended by people who actually know and think hard about such matters. That includes, in particular, Justice Gorsuch, whose record and general approach to the law were fairly well known from his writings and decisions as a judge on the 10th district Court of Appeals.

        2. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: something missed...

          He should vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. It was a classic case of legislating from the bench-- the job of the SCOTUS is to interpret the Constitution, and you can bet the framers of the Constitution weren't thinking of protecting abortion rights when they wrote it, let alone penumbras and emanations.

          I'm as pro-choice as they get, but Roe v. Wade was and is an abomination. If you want a law or a constitutional right to abortion, we have means for doing that, and it's not "let the SCOTUS declare it's in the Constitution even though we all know it's not."

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Well, thank God for the Supremes

    No, not the Diana Ross ones, but they were pretty good too.

    I just wish our mostly craven political class had the cojones to stand up the the law enforcement/prosecutorial/intelligence community momentum towards "If its out there, we are grabbing it." This would save a lot of court time and people getting treated badly by their own government.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Well, thank God for the Supremes

      Although the picture of a group of black women ruling on the limits of police power does have a certain appeal

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, thank God for the Supremes

        Maybe if the legal Supremes were to start their decision with "Stop, in the name of love"...

  6. ma1010
    Paris Hilton

    Will this actually stop them selling our movements?

    In this article, the author said that all the major oligopoly carriers like Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, et al., stopped selling our movement details after the letter from the senator. However, in the article yesterday, I recall only Verizion saying they would stop while T-Mobile seemed to not care.

    Will this court decision stop them from selling our private information now? I certainly hope so. Where we go, what web pages we look at, emails and texts we send should be private and never divulged by any carrier to anyone without a warrant, IMHO.

    Paris, because I'm curious.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Will this actually stop them selling our movements?

      This has no (direct) implications on the actions of the data mongers. It would be truly extraordinary for the judiciary to insert itself a that level. The court will come in when a law or regulation gets challenged. Not before.

    2. Robert Helpmann??

      Re: Will this actually stop them selling our movements?

      Will this court decision stop them from selling our private information now?

      No, because that's how they make their money and they even tell you they will sell you and your info up the river while at the same time denying it. This should be a hint for consumers, though. If it is a huge deal for the government to have access to this data because it can and will be abused, then why are we as a class just giving it away to people whose entire business model is based on exploitation of this information?

  7. a_yank_lurker

    Literalist vs Living

    One problem in the US is the legal beagles tend to be in two idiotic interpretation camps: Literalist and Living. Both tend to extreme views of interpretation; one ignores the effect of technology and modern society on individuals and the other wants to reinterpret relatively plain English into logical pretzels only a shyster could love. The basic problem is both ignore the Constitution and its amendments are written to limit the power of the government and should be interpreted with this in mind. Gorsuch is stating that most of the constitutional problems the Nine Seniles have created for themselves comes their own stupidity in ignoring the fundamental intent of the Constitution.

    The arguments about search and seizure, guns, abortion, etc. would be mostly settled if one took the view the Constitution is intended to limit the power of the government. If the power is limited then what the government can do or regulate is limited. Thus, the government has very limited authority to regulate both gun ownership and abortion in this view for example. And when the local Stasi want to conduct and investigation they will need to follow very strict rules about getting search warrants and limits on their actions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Literalist vs Living

      Not too many people are willing to go out on there own to read what the Founding Fathers wrote as their intent and expectations with respect to federalism and individual protections. It certainly doesn't help that most have never heard of them in Civics, if that's still a required course. The main reason I did so is I wanted a firm understanding of my military oath and all the constitutional law relevant. And it's a bit of fun seeing what corkscrews and in that history.

      One interesting addendum: Chief Justice John Roberts is the appointing authority for all FISA court judges. I'm waiting to see what he does there in the future.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Literalist vs Living

        Chief Justice Roberts almost surely will appoint FISC judges as he has in the past and as his predecessors did from the establishment of the court in 1978: from the ranks of Article III federal judges who were nominated by a president and confirmed by the Senate. The current FISC judges were appointed federal judges by presidents Ronald Reagan (1), George H. W. Bush (1), William Clinton (2), George W. Bush (5) and Barack Obama (1). We can make of that what we will, but the number may well be in line with the current population of federal judges.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trojan horse

    Beware the crackpot Trump appointees.

  9. MrDamage Silver badge

    Hypocrisy of dissent

    Funny how Scala's dissent based on the original wording of "persons, houses, papers, and effects", only seems to apply to the 4th ammendment.

    The 2nd ammendment did not foresee the sheer firepower available in modern firearms, the same way the 4th did not foresee digital devices.

    If they want to limit the 4th to the original wording, perhaps they should also rule the 2nd only applies to we'll organised militias as per original wording, instead of having assault weapons and flame throwers available to the general populace.

    1. Jonathon Desmond

      Re: Hypocrisy of dissent

      Re: "Original wording"

      On this, you may be misremembering the phrasing of the 2nd.

      The exact text is:

      "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

      Whilst it does mention 'Well regulated militia', it is more in the sense of a preamble. The money shot is the phrase "... , the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed".

      If the framers had intended that "the people" should only be those who were members of a militia force (essentially a state army) they would have said so, something like:

      "The right of the states to keep, arm and maintain well regulated militia forces shall not be impinged'.

      But they didn't - they granted the right to "The People", without qualification.

      To those of us on the outside looking in, it appears mad - but that's what it says and it isn't likely to change.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Hypocrisy of dissent

        And if they intended "arms" to be limited to hand guns they would have said so.

        If the purpose of the amendment is to allow people to defend them selves against the government then African-Americans must be allowed to own nuclear weapons

        1. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: Hypocrisy of dissent

          African-Americans must be allowed to own nuclear weapons if, and only if, all other citizens are allowed to do so. The Fourteenth Amendment (and the Second) apply to all state governments and, by general consensus, to the federal government as well.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Hypocrisy of dissent

            Definitely everyone should be allowed nuclear weapons, it's just those that have most to fear from an oppressive armed government should rush out to buy them first.

            So should school children, mutually assured thermonuclear destruction is the only logical alternative to escalating school shootings

    2. Hardrada

      Re: Hypocrisy of dissent

      I would not describe the dissent by Gorsuch as "[limiting] the 4th to the original wording." It's more a 'spirit of the law' argument.

      @MrDamage: "The 2nd ammendment did not foresee the sheer firepower available in modern firearms, the same way the 4th did not foresee digital devices."

      The US constitution was ratified a year after Shay's Rebellion, during which privately held artillery was used against the state; yet for almost 200 years afterward it remained legal for civilians in the US to own cannons. It's pretty hard to believe that the authors and signatories of the constitution didn't forsee civilians having the power to mow down large numbers of people at once when they had just seen exactly that.

      You could make a fair argument that the miniaturization and simplicity of operation of modern weapons is novel enough to justify a reinterpretation, and indeed the court has implicitly endorsed that by allowing the National Firearms Act and various state-level restrictions to stand.

      As Jonathon Desmond noted above, the Second Amendment does not refer to "we'll organized militias." Furthermore, the term "regulated" carried different connotations (closer to "disciplined" or "rigorous").

    3. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Hypocrisy of dissent

      It is well documented that in the 18th century Americans generally had weapons that were the state of the art of the time, as limited by their means. When repeating rifles and revolvers became generally available in the 19th century, they had those, and when more capable firearms became available, including those with semi-automatic and automatic fire, they also had those until federal law was changed to seriously restrict (but not prohibit) automatic weapons ownership.

    4. KSM-AZ

      Re: Hypocrisy of dissent

      What's an 'Assault Weapon'? Which 'Assault' weapons do you wish to ban? Want to make a case for a bump stock, I might listen. Calling semi-automatic rifles 'Assault' weapons cause they look militaristic is STUPID! Automatic weapons are aready very restricted. So are crossbows in many places.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You've hit the nail on the head and far more concisely than I would have, thanks for that. :)

  11. mrobaer

    You're gonna need a warrant

    I believe any law enforcement agency or agent of the justice system should be required to have a warrant to obtain any information on someone that is not in the public domain.

    For example, here in the states they are accessing geneology sites to compare DNA to what was recovered at old murder scenes. If "lucky" they find a relative of the perp and begin to narrow it down. In Washington state, they followed one of these suspects and collected a napkin he used to wipe his mouth. Using that DNA, they fingered him as the rapist/murderer of a teenage girl over 30 years ago.

    I have no problem with them tailing a suspect in hopes of collecting DNA that has been discarded. However, it is a little unnerving that they're sifting through geneology records for DNA hits.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: You're gonna need a warrant

      Surely your location when in public is in the public domain?

      As is any book you buy in public or newspaper you read.

      Or anybody you meet and talk to.

      If you don't want the apparatus of state security following your every movement in public -just stay at home with the curtains closed. Think how much lower crime would be if everyone spent all their time hiding under their beds !

      1. mrobaer

        Re: You're gonna need a warrant

        The public at large does not know where I am when I'm in public, or what book I buy, or what newspaper I read, or who I meat and talk to. There are, however, eye-witnesses to those things, which is what is freely available to those who wish to know without having a warrant.

  12. Reginald Onway

    Not so fast Buster....

    I read a couple reviews that suggesting the ruling ***ONLY*** applies to ***seven days or more*** of cell data thus leaving all else wide open and now approved by the Supreme Court because....that's what they ruled. For example:


    " officials might sometimes still be able to obtain cell-site location records without a warrant – for example, to deal with emergencies such as “bomb threats, active shootings, and child abductions.” .... also left open the possibility that law-enforcement officials might not need a warrant to obtain cell-site location records for a shorter period of time than the seven days at issue in Carpenter’s case – which might allow them to get information about where someone was on the day of a crime, for example."

    My reading is: Cell records are wide open and now court approved for anything less than a seven day time span.

  13. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    "near perfect surveillance"

    So why not outlaw keeping the data (and metadata) that provide "near perfect surveillance" capabilities for any length of time beyond providing the requested service? Or even collecting such data except in cases where the service (to the end user!) where the service cannot be provided without it? Motivation: no one in a free, democratic society should have "near perfect surveillance" capabilities, neither corporations nor the police. The potential for abuse outweighs any possible usefulness by orders of magnitude.

    Then the question whether such data can be retrieved from a third party without a warrant will not even arise...

    Yes, I realize this suggestion is for the legislative branch to consider, not for the courts.

    No, I will not regard any "think of the terrorists" arguments as valid. Such arguments are not fundamentally distinct from the case in question where a string of violent crimes (robberies) was committed. A bit of help proving the criminals', even terrorists' (who are not even a very big problem, statistically speaking), whereabouts after they have been caught is not a justification for keeping everyone under "near perfect surveillance". Real time surveillance (while the service is being provided), needed for the "ticking bomb" situation, is covered.

    1. Reginald Onway

      Re: "near perfect surveillance"

      I think negotiations for the people should start with all electronic data is tangible property, as if it was inside a file cabinet in your home, and thus subject to all Constitutional protections.

      The fact of the matter is various laws like the Patriot Act and court decisions, like this one, too, have whittled down the Bill of Rights to a hollow and weak shell of it's former self.

      This ruling is not a victory in the sense it now appears cell records of less than six days are NOT subject to the 4th amendment at all according to this ruling. Plenty of room for the boys in blue to game. And, they may still get all historical data, because it still exists, so long as it's not used as evidence in a trial.

      I haven't read one response from the police industry complaining about this decision. That's a very bad sign too. It suggests they have work arounds already in place.

  14. The_Idiot

    So where...

    ... dies this put the use of Stingrays, I wonder? Logically a Stingray can be said to intercept, record and deliver cellphone location data. Also logically, someone placing a Stingray can;t know who's location data they're going to gather in advance. So, at the risk of repetition, logically they can;t have obtained a warrant to obtain each person's cellphone location data.

    OK - so the answer is probably (IANAL) - bugger all affect. After all, nobody's digging into the phone itself, so all good, right?

    Right. Sigh......

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: So where...

      Stingray would be fine. The Police don't need a warrant for data collected by the police, they aren't demanding data from a cell company.

  15. Cuddles

    Are you sure?

    "This argument has been undermined literally this week however when all four major mobile operators agreed to stop selling that data after Senator Ron Wyden wrote a letter to each of them asking them about the practice."

    The linked article says that one operator has reduced its selling of location data but not stopped entirely, while the other three insist there's no problem and refuse to change anything. Was the link supposed to go to a more recent article explaining that they all changed their minds later and have now actually stopped, or was the quoted statement just incredibly misleading?

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