The Supreme Court has agreed to decide how much privacy Americans are entitled to in cellphone tracking data that can reflect their location and movement.
The justices announced Monday that they will rule on whether a search warrant should be required before authorities obtain information from mobile-phone companies that can reflect a user’s approximate movements in the past. The method traces which phone tower a device was connected to and which set of antennas on the tower were used.
The case was brought by a man convicted in a string of armed robberies in Michigan based on "cell site location information" the FBI obtained with a court order, but without a warrant requiring probable cause.
The Trump administration had urged the justices not to hear the case, which will likely be argued in the fall, but civil liberties and privacy advocates encouraged the court to take up the issue.
Lower courts have generally ruled that a warrant is not required for such data because it is voluntarily shared by users with third parties, namely the telephone companies. Critics say the precedents behind those decisions are outdated in light of the realities of life in the digital age.