Supreme Court Ruling Requiring Warrant for Cellphone Searches Could Lead to Increased Number of Lawsuits

Fenwick privacy and cybersecurity lawyer Hanley Chew talked to CNBC, Bloomberg and Law360 about the U.S. Supreme Court’s Carpenter v. United States decision holding that law enforcement officials must obtain a warrant in order to pull cellphone location records.

The decision could lead to increased litigation by defendants in pending criminal cases, who could challenge whether cell site location information data can be used against them if a warrant wasn't issued.

Chew told CNBC, “The main issue is what type of legal process the government needs to obtain location data. With the Carpenter decision, it is definitive that they have to meet the higher burden of obtaining a warrant for that type of information.”

The decision may also become a roadmap for companies to push back on law enforcement requests for other types of digital data, Chew told Bloomberg. “If warrants are required for historical data, why shouldn’t it be required for other data that is equally personal and equally intrusive,” Chew said.

Chew also said the court’s majority conclusion that consumers have a right to expect privacy for their location data could cause broader consequences for companies that gather this information for their personal use.

”It's definitely possible that the ruling could be cited by consumers to support the argument that private companies should afford greater privacy protections to this type of data," Chew told Law360.

The full articles are available on CNBC, Bloomberg Law and also on Law360 (subscription required).​​​