REVERSE LOCATION SEARCH WARRANTS: LAW ENFORCEMENT’S TRANSITION TO ‘BIG BROTHER’

April 21, 2022
NC-JOLT-Vol-23.3_669-700_Zietlow

Law enforcement across the United States is knocking on Google’s door with its use of reverse location search warrants (“RLSWs”). These warrants allow government officers to access locational data of every cellular device within a certain proximity and time range. RLSWs are an innovative technological tool that allow law enforcement to essentially work backward during investigations in creating a suspect list after a crime has been committed. RLSWs give the government oversight and knowledge regarding the movements of its citizens—oversight that comes remarkably close to that of the popular fictional novel, “Big Brother.” This new investigative tool is increasingly being used by law enforcement, and few states and courts have made progress in addressing the constitutionality of these warrants, particularly in relation to the Fourth Amendment.
The use of these warrants has raised important questions regarding the privacy that individuals are expected to have in the current technological world. This Article explores the history of RLSWs and their relation to the Fourth Amendment. Further, this Article advocates for limitations to be placed upon the use of these warrants through laws and judicial adherence to the “probable cause” and “particularity” requirements of the Fourth Amendment. Finally, this Article recommends limiting the use of RLSWs to extreme circumstances and argues against the collection of innocent individuals’ information.

Author: Cassandra Zietlow

PDF: http://ncjolt.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2022/04/NC-JOLT-Vol-23.3_669-700_Zietlow.pdf

Volume 23, Issue 3