HOUSTON (AP) - A federal appeals court has ruled that authorities need only a court order and not a more stringent search warrant to obtain cellphone records that can be used to track a person's movements. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the ruling Tuesday. It overturns an order by a federal judge in Houston who had said cellphone data is constitutionally protected from intrusion and can only be acquired with a search warrant.
But the New Orleans-based appeals court ruled that such data is a business record that belongs to the cellphone provider. It also ruled that the data's collection by authorities does not have to meet a probable cause standard as outlined under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unlawful search and seizure and requires a search warrant.