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Cell phone tracking may help thwart criminals


The Supreme Court ruled last week that law enforcement is not permitted to install GPS technology in order to track suspects without getting a warrant from a judge before doing so, according to The Associated Press. However, this does not mean that cell phone tracking devices won’t play a part in criminal investigations.

This verdict was given by the justices on the belief that it could cause constitutional and privacy problems, which would violate the Fourth Amendment – protection against unreasonable search and seizure, according to the media outlet.

Now that this has been established, many police departments across the country are hesitant about the implications of this ruling – especially because they are unsure how difficult it will be to obtain these warrants in the future. The news source reports that the Obama administration believes it may be difficult at first.

According to the Denver Post, there have been a number of incidents in which the cell phone tracking has been beneficial to not only the department but also the victims of various crimes.

Two men pointed a gun at a convenience store owner in Lakewood, Colorado, this past December, and one of the suspects took the owner’s iPhone. Police were able to locate the phone through the cell phone company, and were able to detain the suspect.

In this situation, the police would have had no problem tracking the individual, as they got the go-ahead from the owner of the phone. However, in other incidences, it isn’t so clear, leaving many unsure of the future investigations.

“Cell [phone] providers can locate every smartphone at any given moment. The question becomes who’s privy to that information and under what circumstances,” Tom Raynes, executive director of the Colorado District Attorneys Council, told the news source. “Because you’re giving that information to the cell provider – a third party – when you buy the phone, does that invalidate a right to privacy?”

This will be a big change for law enforcement in the area, as it has become the first step in a number of investigations.

“Every law enforcement agency I’m aware of uses this kind of technology to locate people,” Lakewood Police Department spokesman Steve Davis told the news outlet. “We have technology available to us today that certainly wasn’t available just a few years ago.”

When it comes to police and cell phone tracking software across the country, only time will tell what the implications of this ruling will have.