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Pennsylvania Cops Can Use Court Orders for Real-Time Cell Data

Jan. 27, 2020, 6:02 PM

Pennsylvania law enforcement can use court orders based on probable cause, rather than search warrants, to obtain real-time cell tower data, a state appeals court ruled.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling Jan. 24 under the state’s wiretap law shows the limits of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Carpenter v. United States. That decision required a warrant for historical cell tower data.

While courts since Carpenter have expanded privacy protections for real-time data, the Pennsylvania decision shows that law enforcement in at least some cases can use tools other than warrants.

Appellant David Pacheco was convicted in 2017 on...

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