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Warrants for cell phone tracking: Better privacy in the digital world or making it harder for police?

This weekend the supreme court ruled in favor of making police officers have a warrant to track someone's location using their cell phone.

Posted: Jun 25, 2018 6:51 PM
Updated: Jun 25, 2018 10:23 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A supreme court decision is adding a step for officers when it comes to solving a case.

They recently ruled five to four saying police need a warrant before tracking someone's location through that person's cell phone. 

What does this mean for officers in the Wabash Valley? 


We live in a digital age where cell phones are used daily. They aren't just phones anymore. They're journals, cameras, and GPS devices.

With the new ruling officers are having to take an extra step before solving a case.

"If you're going to do real-time tracking of an individual now, the supreme court decision requires that a search warrant is obtained," Terry Modesitt, Vigo County Prosecutor said.

But, Modesitt said in Vigo county they've already been doing that.

"We've been requiring our deputies to get a search warrant for about two years now," he said, "One of the reasons we started was because we saw where things were headed." 

"From our view, it's going to be continuing to do something that we've always done," Indiana State Police Sgt. Joe Watt's said. "That's the right way. Either with your consent or with a search warrant." 

It's a step in the right direction for privacy in the digital age.

"It will add one extra step for law enforcement," says Watt's. "It will add nothing to you but a protection device." 

That extra step is something that Modesitt says its better to do and be safe than to be sorry. 

The decision made exceptions for emergencies like bomb threats and child abductions. In general, though authorities need a warrant for cell tower location information and other digital data that gives a detailed look at a person's private life. 

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