An American federal judge recently ruled that if someone has their cell phone turned on, their location data does not deserve protection under the Fourth Amendment, meaning law enforcement can track individuals without a search warrant. RT.com reports:
“Given the ubiquity and celebrity of geolocation technologies, an individual has no legitimate expectation of privacy in the prospective of a cellular telephone where that individual has failed to protect his privacy by taking the simple expedient of powering it off,” Brown wrote.
“As to control by the user, all of the known tracking technologies may be defeated by merely turning off the phone. Indeed – excluding apathy or inattention – the only reason that users leave cell phones turned on is so that the device can be located to receive calls. Conversely, individuals who do not want to be disturbed by unwanted telephone calls at a particular time or place simply turn their phones off, knowing that they cannot be located.”
He goes on to suggest that because there are smartphone applications available that allow users to locate people in their area with similar interests, cell phone customers should not expect their inherent right to privacy to be observed.