The authors examine the unique legal and privacy implications that cell site location information tracking by law enforcement poses for current Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. Following a brief explanation of how cell phone tracking works, their discussion is directed to the concept of privacy under the Fourth Amendment both prior to and following the seminal Supreme Court decision of Katz v. United States (1967), including a review of the Supreme Court’s historical treatment of tracking devices post-Katz. Consideration is then directed to the United States. v. Maynard (2010) decision, where the court employed the “mosaic” theory in a Fourth Amendment search framework and how its adoption of the mosaic has created a novel approach for broadening privacy protections. The authors maintain that the two concurring opinions endorsing a mosaic approach in the United States v. Jones (2012) GPS tracking decision suggest that the theory will have continuing vitality in shaping the debate between personal privacy and effective law enforcement as technology evolves.
Lance H. Selva, William L. Shulman & Robert B. Rumsey, Rise of the Mosaic Theory: Implications for Cell Site Location Tracking By Law Enforcement, 32 J. Marshall J. Info. Tech. & Privacy L. 236 (2016)