Washington (AFP) – In a landmark digital privacy case, the US Supreme Court ruled Friday that police need a warrant before obtaining cell phone location data about a suspect from telecom companies.
In a 5-4 decision, the nation’s highest court said that cell phone location data is protected under the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable search and seizure.
The case stemmed from the police acquiring mobile phone location information about a robbery suspect without a warrant.
Data from the suspect’s cell phone was used to show that he was in the vicinity when several robberies took place.
The Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s ruling that police did not need a warrant to obtain the suspect’s location data from cell phone companies.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the four liberal justices on the court in the decision.
The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the ruling, predicting a “ripple effect for privacy.”
“It will help protect all sorts of digital information stored online, from emails to data from smart home appliances,” the ACLU said.