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Police meet resistance when it comes to cell phone tracking issues


A new ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals says that police do not need a warrant to search a cell phone for a person’s number, according to CBS News.

This ruling comes from an Indiana case in which prosecutors used cell phone information to help convict a suspect of drug charges. The police had subpoenaed three months of cell phone activity of the defendant to build evidence, and the defense appealed on the grounds that the officers should have had a search warrant to do so, as that search provided the information to indict the suspect. However, the three-judge panel did not agree, as they related the cell phone to a diary.

“It’s not even clear that we need a rule of law specific to cell phones or other computers. If police are entitled to open a pocket diary to copy the owner’s address, they should be entitled to turn on a cell phone to learn its number,” the judges wrote in the opinion, the news outlet reports.

Some may feel discouraged by this ruling due to privacy issues involved, particularly concerning the fact that some cell phone companies track what users are doing on their mobile devices, according to the news channel KMPH-TV.

“Technology is nice for different platforms of communication but it gets a little invasive,” Theresa Maragoni of Clovis, California, told the news source.

Marketing insider Mark Johnson explained that cell phone companies do not hide the fact they do this. They include tracking information in the privacy notices they send. Many consumers may not be interested in taking the time to opt out of the tracking, which is mostly put in place for advertisement reasons.

“I don’t really think that most people are going to review every email they get form their cell phone company and then go through the extra step of opting out of this targeted advertisement.” Johnson told the media outlet.

In some cases, cell phone tracking can be beneficial. According to Mercury News, tracking software of a stolen cell phone has led officers directly to the suspects. Cell phone tracking has also been known to help find missing individuals, including elderly persons who suffer from age-related cognitive problems like Alzheimer’s disease.