12 INVESTIGATES: Warrantless cell phone searches - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

12 INVESTIGATES: Warrantless cell phone searches

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Do police need a warrant to track you down with your cell phone? A major court ruling says no.

The 2 to 1 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals means police officers don't need probable cause when asking a telephone company to help them track a person down. The ruling overturns a lower court decision that said police needed a warrant to get that information.

Your phone isn't just a phone anymore. It's also a tracking device, and police are dialing up the cell phone companies more and more, often asking for specific information - like a user's whereabouts or even call log.

In response to a congressional inquiry, the top cell phone companies finally revealed just how many times they've handed over user's cellphone data to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

Turns out, they responded to an estimated 1.3 million demands for subscribers information last year alone.

Law enforcement argues tracking cell phones without warrants can save lives. Investigators say they do it if they need to solve a crime or if they believe somebody is in danger.

In February, we uncovered that Richmond, Chesterfield and Henrico County all use this tactic.

According to the ruling, you buy the cell phone with the understanding it must send a signal to a nearby cell tower. The court says that data is clearly a business record and can be collected by investigators.

The American Civil Liberties Union calls the decision a big blow to American's privacy rights. This case could ultimately end up in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

  • FOX19 HeadlinesMore>>

  • Amazon: Echo device sent conversation to family's contact

    Amazon: Echo device sent conversation to family's contact

    Thursday, May 24 2018 5:52 PM EDT2018-05-24 21:52:19 GMT
    Friday, May 25 2018 1:32 AM EDT2018-05-25 05:32:40 GMT
    A woman says her Amazon device recorded a private conversation and sent it out to a random contact. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)A woman says her Amazon device recorded a private conversation and sent it out to a random contact. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
    A woman says her Amazon device recorded a private conversation and sent it out to a random contact. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)A woman says her Amazon device recorded a private conversation and sent it out to a random contact. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

    Amazon says an "unlikely" string of events prompted its Echo personal assistant device to record a Portland, Oregon, family's private conversation and then send the recording to an acquaintance in Seattle.

    Full Story >

    Amazon says an "unlikely" string of events prompted its Echo personal assistant device to record a Portland, Oregon, family's private conversation and then send the recording to an acquaintance in Seattle.

    Full Story >
  • Trump awards Medal of Honor to Navy SEAL in Afghan assault

    Trump awards Medal of Honor to Navy SEAL in Afghan assault

    Thursday, May 24 2018 3:12 PM EDT2018-05-24 19:12:14 GMT
    Friday, May 25 2018 1:25 AM EDT2018-05-25 05:25:35 GMT
    (AP Photo/Susan Walsh). President Donald Trump stands with Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt K. Slabinski during a ceremony to award him the Medal of Honor in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 24, 2018. Slabinski o...(AP Photo/Susan Walsh). President Donald Trump stands with Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt K. Slabinski during a ceremony to award him the Medal of Honor in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 24, 2018. Slabinski o...
    President Donald Trump has awarded the Medal of Honor to a Navy SEAL who oversaw a daring assault and rescue mission on a snowy Afghanistan mountaintop in 2002.Full Story >
    President Donald Trump has awarded the Medal of Honor to a Navy SEAL who oversaw a daring assault and rescue mission on a snowy Afghanistan mountaintop in 2002.Full Story >
  • Probe: Missile that downed MH17 came from Russia-based unit

    Probe: Missile that downed MH17 came from Russia-based unit

    Thursday, May 24 2018 5:32 AM EDT2018-05-24 09:32:04 GMT
    Friday, May 25 2018 1:25 AM EDT2018-05-25 05:25:11 GMT
    The passenger jet was headed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it was was blown out of the sky over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. All 298 passengers and crew were killed. (Source: CNN)The passenger jet was headed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it was was blown out of the sky over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. All 298 passengers and crew were killed. (Source: CNN)

    An international team of investigators say that detailed analysis of video images has established that the Buk missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 nearly four years ago came from a Russia-based...

    Full Story >

    An international team of investigators say that detailed analysis of video images has established that the Buk missile that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 nearly four years ago came from a Russia-based military unit.

    Full Story >
Powered by Frankly