Cellphone Location Data - What is it and what do the police need to do to get it?

Cell phonesIn a recent federal court ruling, a federal court of appeals court held that police do not need to get a search warrant in order to obtain "location data" for a cell phone that they wanted to track (this is much different than actually listening in on a cell phone conversation).  According to the federal court of appeals opinion (which focused solely on the federal constitution), all the police need to do is functionally ask a magistrate judge to order cell phone providers to produce the information - and that they do not need to get a normal search warrant signed by a judge to obtain the information.  Other courts (mostly state courts relying on that state's individual state constitution) have reached different conclusions.   So we expect that at some point in the future (but not the very near future), the United States Supreme Court will have to answer this question for all of us. Stay tuned here - we will let you know how this issue develops.  And be aware that the Government now has an argument that they can track your cell phone movement without a warrant.