Audio: Fargo Attorney Says Cops Access Our Cell Phone Data “Far More Frequently Than Any of Us Know”

A case currently before the United States Supreme Court questions whether law enforcement officials can access data collected from your cell phone usage without a warrant.

Here in North Dakota, a Fargo-based defense attorney says state lawmakers need to pass a law requiring such a warrant.

The case is Carpenter vs. USA and deals with a man who was convicted of multiple armed robberies and sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. Part of the evidence used against him was location data from his cell phone which was found to have pinged communication towers in close proximity to the location of the robberies.

The problem is, law enforcement obtained that data without getting a warrant.

Mark Friese of the Vogel Law Firm says law enforcement accessing this sort of data happens here in North Dakota “far more frequently than any of us know.”

“I’ve seen it in a number of cases” including two he’s currently handling Friese told me during an interview on my radio show last week adding that though the cell phone companies give the cops ready access to the data he has troubles accessing it on behalf of his clients.

It’s a “double standard,” Friese said.

There are “no checks and balances” on law enforcement’s access to this data, according to Friese, but there should be whatever the Supreme Court rules in Carpenter. He’s calling on North Dakota’s lawmakers to put in place a requirement that cell phone data only be collected with a warrant, though he acknowledges that state-level statutes would do little in terms of federal access to that information.

Here’s our full interview:

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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