The Curious Case of Cell Phone Location Data: Fourth Amendment Doctrine Mash-Up

18 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2015 Last revised: 7 May 2016

See all articles by Monu Singh Bedi

Monu Singh Bedi

DePaul University College of Law

Date Written: August 7, 2015


Police surveillance ability and information gathering capacity have a dynamic relationship with technology. Greater advancements in technology make it easier for the police to surveil individuals and collect information. This state of affairs leads to heightened concerns over Fourth Amendment protection. This issue has most recently played out in the context of police collecting cell phone location data. Courts disagree on whether and to what extent this data garners Fourth Amendment protection. Underlying this disagreement rests a hitherto overlooked tension between two interrelated Fourth Amendment doctrines — the third-party and the public disclosure doctrines. While both vitiate privacy protection and are commonly associated together, they rely on very different triggers. This Essay provides a detailed analysis of these distinct features in an effort to harmonize the doctrines in the cell phone location data context.

Keywords: Criminal Procedure, Fourth Amendment, Third Party Doctrine, Cell Phone Location Data

Suggested Citation

Bedi, Monu Singh, The Curious Case of Cell Phone Location Data: Fourth Amendment Doctrine Mash-Up (August 7, 2015). 110 Northwestern University Law Review 507 (2016), Available at SSRN: or

Monu Singh Bedi (Contact Author)

DePaul University College of Law ( email )

25 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL Cook County 60604-2287
United States

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