Cell Phone Location Tracking Laws By State

Location records can reveal an enormous amount of information about a person, especially with the proliferation of smartphones that constantly track our whereabouts. Because privacy laws haven’t kept up with advances in technology, police have long claimed the authority to access this information from cell phone companies without warrants.

That’s changing. While Congress and the Supreme Court haven’t yet weighed in on whether a warrant should be required for location information, little by little, state legislatures and lower courts are expanding privacy protections for more and more Americans.

That does mean, however, that the status of your privacy protections depends on where you are. For example, your location information is protected in Montana, but not in Georgia. In Illinois, police need a warrant to know where you are right now, but not where you were last week. In California, your location information is protected against warrantless search by state and local police, but not by federal authorities. In other states, we’re still waiting for rulings, and in Florida, state and federal courts are at odds on the matter.

The map below details the status of cell phone location tracking laws by state. Click on any highlighted state for more information.

Click any highlighted state to learn more
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Alabama

No warrant required

Alaska

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Arizona

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Arkansas

No binding authority; location information unprotected

California

Warrant required for all cell phone location information

Colorado

Some protections

Connecticut

Some protections

Delaware

Some protections

Third Circuit Court of Appeals, In re Application (2010): Magistrate judges have discretion to require warrant for historical CSLI, and third-party doctrine does not apply.

Florida

Conflicting authorities

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Davis (2015): No warrant required for historical CSLI.

Florida Supreme Court, Tracey v. State (2014): Warrant required for real-time cell phone location tracking. May not constrain federal law enforcement.

Georgia

No warrant required

Hawaii

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Idaho

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Illinois

Warrant required for real-time location tracking

Indiana

Warrant required for real-time location tracking

Iowa

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Kansas

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Kentucky

No warrant required

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Carpenter: No warrant required for historical cell site location information.

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Skinner (2012): No warrant required for short-term real-time cell phone location tracking.

Louisiana

No warrant required

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, In re Application (2013): No warrant required for historical CSLI.

Maine

Warrant required for all cell phone location information

Maryland

Conflicting authorities

Massachusetts

Warrant required for historical cell site location information

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Commonwealth v. Augustine (2014): Warrant required for historical CSLI under state constitution. Does not constrain federal law enforcement.

Michigan

No warrant required

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Carpenter: No warrant required for historical cell site location information.

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Skinner (2012): No warrant required for short-term real-time cell phone location tracking.

Minnesota

Warrant required for all cell phone location information

Mississippi

No warrant required

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, In re Application (2013): No warrant required for historical CSLI.

Missouri

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Montana

Warrant required for all cell phone location information

Nebraska

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Nevada

No warrant required

Nevada Supreme Court, Taylor v. State (2016): No warrant required for historical CSLI.

New Hampshire

Warrant required for all cell phone location information

New Jersey

Warrant required for real-time location tracking

New Jersey Supreme Court, State v. Earls (2013): Warrant required for real-time cell phone location tracking under state constitution. Does not constrain federal law enforcement.

Third Circuit Court of Appeals, In re Application (2010): Magistrate judges have discretion to require warrant for historical CSLI, and third-party doctrine does not apply.

New Mexico

No binding authority; location information unprotected

New York

No binding authority; location information unprotected

North Carolina

No warrant required

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Graham (2016): No warrant required for historical CSLI.

North Dakota

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Ohio

No warrant required

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Carpenter: No warrant required for historical cell site location information.

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Skinner (2012): No warrant required for short-term real-time cell phone location tracking.

Oklahoma

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Oregon

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Pennsylvania

Some protections

Third Circuit Court of Appeals, In re Application (2010): Magistrate judges have discretion to require warrant for historical CSLI, and third-party doctrine does not apply.

Rhode Island

Warrant required for all cell phone location information

South Carolina

No warrant required

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Graham (2016): No warrant required for historical CSLI.

South Dakota

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Tennessee

No warrant required

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Carpenter: No warrant required for historical cell site location information.

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Skinner (2012): No warrant required for short-term real-time cell phone location tracking.

Texas

No warrant required

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, In re Application (2013): No warrant required for historical CSLI.

Utah

Warrant required for all cell phone location information

Vermont

Warrant required for all cell phone location information

Washington

No binding authority; location information unprotected

West Virginia

No warrant required

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Graham (2016): No warrant required for historical CSLI.

Wisconsin

No binding authority; location information unprotected

Wyoming

No binding authority; location information unprotected

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