Judge Makes Ruling in Cellphone Dragnet Case

Judge Makes Ruling in Cellphone Dragnet Case

(USNewsBreak.com) – Law enforcement uses a range of tactics to capture criminals. The methods include a number of technology-based processes that open up easier ways to track suspects. However, one advanced tool is drawing criticism from a district judge, who says it violates the Constitution.

US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge M. Hannah Lauck ruled on March 3 that the use of geofence warrants to obtain Google location data was unacceptable. Lauck said gathering information from innocent people violated their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.

The case centered around a bank robbery for which officers obtained a geofence warrant to look for people close by who fit the suspect’s description. Law enforcement claimed geofencing is legal because users already agree to location tracking. They also explained they don’t get personal information until they find a viable suspect. Even then, the geofence information isn’t enough to get a conviction.

Defense attorneys and privacy advocates say the use of this type of warrant is akin to fishing for suspects.

The ruling by the court could curb law enforcement’s ability to use Google location tracking data. State and local judges will have to consider the decision when issuing warrants.

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