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Warrantless Location Tracking

29 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2008 Last revised: 15 Dec 2008

Ian J. Samuel

New York University School of Law


The ubiquity of cell phones has transformed police investigations. Tracking a suspect's movements by following her phone is now a common but largely unnoticed surveillance technique. It is useful, no doubt, precisely because it is so revealing; it also raises significant privacy concerns. In this Note, I consider what the procedural requirements for cell phone tracking should be by examining the relevant statutory and constitutional law. Ultimately, the best standard is probable cause; only an ordinary warrant can satisfy the text of the statutes and the mandates of the Constitution.

Keywords: fourth amendment, search, seizure, cell phones, pen register, location tracking, surveillance

Suggested Citation

Samuel, Ian J., Warrantless Location Tracking. New York University Law Review, Vol. 83, No. 4, October 2008. Available at SSRN:

Ian J. Samuel (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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