Our Turn: Police Shouldn't Access Your Phone's Data Without a Court Order

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Organizational Units

Sturm College of Law


Police, Privacy, Cell phone data, Law enforcement, Criminal procedure


Most of us carry our phones wherever we go. And whether we realize it or not, our phones are regularly relaying our location to our cellphone providers — hundreds of times each day.

Our phones connect to the nearest cell tower whenever we start or end a call, send or receive a text, and every time our phones update our email or apps.

This information, which is stored by our cellphone providers, is a potential treasure trove for law enforcement. If given the data, they can reconstruct a person’s movements for weeks or even months. And law enforcement agencies have not been shy about trying to obtain the data. AT&T alone now receives more than 75,000 requests a year.

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