Salvador Rizzo/The Star-Ledger
July 18, 2013

The state Supreme Court ruled today that police will need warrants from now on if they want to track crime suspects by tracing the signals from their cell phones.

In a 7-0 decision, the court sided with Thomas Earls, who was arrested on burglary charges in Monmouth County in 2006. Without obtaining a warrant, the police had pinpointed his location by getting his cell-phone signal data from his provider, T-Mobile, three times in one evening.

The court said cell phones have the potential to be powerful tracking tools, since they send their location signals to nearby cell towers every seven seconds, “which allows carriers to locate cell phones on a real-time basis and to reconstruct a phone’s movement from recorded data.”

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