Commonwealth v. Estabrook

coverCOMMONWEALTH V. ESTABROOK | SJC–11833 | Mass SJC April 24, 2015 | The Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief (PDF) in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLUM) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in Commonwealth v. Estabrook, SJC–11833. The case concerns location privacy and cell phone technology, specifically, whether law enforcement can gather a large amount of cell phone location information if it only plans to use a small part of it in a prosecution. Amici argue that the SJC’s previous decision in Augustine requires police to get a warrant to obtain vast amounts of location information even if they only plan to use a small amount. The brief urges the SJC to establish a blanket warrant requirement for whenever police seek cellphone location data. As the brief notes, considering the growing volume and accuracy of such data, and the confusion that an exception in Augustine has created in the lower courts, a blanket warrant requirement would provide much-needed clarity to police, prosecutors, and the public. Such a rule would align Massachusetts with the dozen other states that have imposed blanket warrant requirements for cellphone location data, without any apparent ill effects on the ability of the police to investigate crimes.

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