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29 Hastings Comm. & Ent. L.J. 421 (2006-2007)
Fourth Amendment and Cell Phone Location Tracking: Where Are We, The

handle is hein.journals/hascom29 and id is 433 raw text is: The Fourth Amendment and Cell Phone
Location Tracking: Where Are We?
by
KEVIN MCLAUGHLIN*
I.   Introduction  .................................................................................................. 423
II.    B ackground  .............................................................................................. 426
A.     How   the  Technology  W orks ................................................................ 426
B.     The Current State of Statutory Protection ............................................ 428
C.     Fourth  Amendment Precedent .............................................................. 429
III.   Applying the Fourth Amendment to Cell Phone Location Tracking ....... 431
A.     Historical Data Versus Real-time Data ............................................. 431
B.     Passive Versus Call-based Location Tracking ..................................... 434
C.     The Level of Specificity of Location Data Gathered ........................... 436
D.     Tracking  the  Suspect at Hom e ............................................................. 437
E.     Focus on the Phone Versus the Suspect ............................................... 438
IV.    Cell Phone Location Tracking is an Unreasonable Search ....................... 439
A.     Assumption   of the Risk  is Limited ....................................................... 439
B.     Property Precepts Remain Prominent ................................................... 441
C.     Reasonable Expectations Have Subtly Shifted ..................................... 442
V .    C onclusion  ............................................................................................... 444
I. Introduction
Cellular phones are a technological tidal wave. Today there are
over 195 million cellular phone subscribers in the United States,'
double the number of subscribers just five years ago.2 Cell phones
are increasingly ubiquitous in our society, altering how we
communicate and how we interact as a society.'
. University of California, Hastings College of the Law, Juris Doctor Candidate, 2007;
B.A., University of California, San Diego. I am indebted to Professor Rory Little, Kevin
Bankston and Lee Tien for their insights. All errors and omissions are mine alone.
1. CTIA - The Wireless Association's Semi-Annual Wireless Industry Survey
(2005), http://files.ctia.org/pdf/CTIAMidYear2005Survey.pdf.
2. Id.
3. See generally, PERPETUAL CONTACT: MOBILE COMMUNICATION, PRIVATE
TALK, PUBLIC PERFORMANCE (James E. Katz & Mark A. Aakhus eds., 2002).

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