Appeals court rules authorities must get warrant to track cellphone tower data


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MIAMI — A federal appeals court has ruled that investigators must obtain a search warrant to collect records from cellphone towers that are often used to track suspects' movements.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Wednesday with the American Civil Liberties Union that the cellphone data is protected by the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The ruling means authorities must meet a higher legal standard of probable cause in order to gain access to the data.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 ruled that investigators needed similar warrants to attach GPS devices to suspects' vehicles.

The ruling came in the Miami case of Quartavious Davis, who is serving a 162-year sentence for a string of armed robberies. The 11th Circuit let his convictions stand.

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