[law.com] Authorities say they have evidence that Luis Soto was near a bank that was robbed in Berlin, Conn. Was there an eyewitness? No.
Soto was reportedly betrayed by his cell phone. Federal authorities sought reams of records from phone companies. They said the data -- which lists which cell towers handled certain calls -- revealed that Soto was not only close to the bank, but he was close to other suspects in the robbery.
Should law enforcement agencies be able to obtain this sort of information without a warrant? That's a question that will soon be debated in a U.S. District Court in Connecticut.
Defense lawyers and advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation say the way the government obtained the cell information constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure.
"It really is a search, a modern-day search," said David McGuire, an attorney with the Connecticut chapter of the ACLU. "It's not really any different in our perspective than … [police] going in and searching a location without a warrant."
But while Americans might reasonably expect that the government can't eavesdrop on conversations without a warrant, law enforcement officials say people have no reasonable expectation that their cell phone's whereabouts is a private matter.
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