Supreme Court: Police need a warrant to access cell tower data

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that law enforcement must obtain a warrant to access cell tower data. The ruling will put new restraints in place for police officers wanting access to private information stored in the cell towers.

The Court ruled 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the liberal members. Roberts’ decision state that technology had given law enforcement new tools to do their jobs, but those tools are still subject to the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

The original case centered around a robbery conviction where police asked a cell phone carrier for 127 days worth of tower data. The data showed Timothy Carpenter’s cell phone at nearly 13,000 locations during those days, including areas where the robberies took place.

Carpenter was convicted on this evidence. His lawyers stated police should have been required to obtain a warrant for this information. The Supreme Court agreed with Carpenter’s lawyers.