Journal of Law and Policy


Paul Cividanes


The Fourth Amendment, which affords individuals protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, was ratified over two hundred years ago. As such, it was impossible for the Amendment’s framers to conceive the technologies that exist today. As technology progresses, courts are often faced with the task of deciding how the Fourth Amendment should apply in the modern world. As Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has developed, the Supreme Court has originated tests and doctrines for courts to use when hearing Fourth Amendment challenges to government action. One such test, the ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ test, looks to see whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in what the government has searched or seized. If the individual does in fact have such an expectation, law enforcement can search and/or seize that item only if they have a warrant, with some exceptions. One doctrine the court has announced, the third-party doctrine, stands for the proposition that individuals do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in information they voluntarily convey to third parties. Cellphones, and similar devices the Framers never could have imagined, are now capable of revealing users’ location information. This note argues that Fourth Amendment protections should be extended to location information. Ultimately, cellphone users do not voluntarily convey their location information to third parties and therefore have a reasonable expectation of privacy in this information.