Supreme Judicial Court, February 18, 2014

The Supreme Judicial Court announced a new rule of law by holding the Commonwealth must obtain a search warrant to acquire historical cell site location information (CSLI) from a service provider for a particular cellular telephone.  Despite being a business record, given its capacity to track the movements of the user, the individual  has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his CSLI and a Superior Court order issued under 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d) (2006) of the Federal Stored Communications Act is not enough.  

The Court in this case decided that the two week time period for the requested CSLI was too long however, they failed to provide a definitive timeframe.   “… [I]t is likely that the duration of the period for which historical CSLI is sought will be a relevant consideration in the reasonable expectation of privacy calculus -- that there is some period of time for which the Commonwealth may obtain a person's historical CSLI by meeting the standard for a § 2703(d) order alone, because the duration is too brief to implicate the person's reasonable privacy interest.   But there is no need to consider at this juncture what the boundaries of such a time period might be in this case because, for all the reasons previously rehearsed concerning the extent and character of cellular telephone use, the two weeks covered by the § 2703(d) order at issue exceeds it…”