Investigators do not need a search warrant to obtain cellphone tower location records in criminal prosecutions, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday in a closely-watched case involving the rules for changing technology.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, overturning a three-judge panel of the same court, concluded that authorities properly got 67 days’ worth of records from MetroPCS for Miami robbery suspect Quartavious Davis using a court order with a lower burden of proof.
In its 9-2 decision, the 11th Circuit decided Davis had no expectation of privacy regarding records establishing his location near certain cellphone towers. The records were key evidence used to convict Davis of a string of armed robberies, leading to a 162-year prison sentence.
In fact, Circuit Judge Frank M. Hull wrote for the majority, it’s clear that cellphone users in today’s society understand how companies collect data about calls and that cell towers are a key part of that.