NATIONWIDE - The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case Wednesday that could have a big impact on the use of cell phone data and law enforcement.
The suspect in this case, Timothy Carpenter, was convicted for his part in several cell phone store robberies. Carpenter claims his fourth amendment rights protecting him from unlawful search and seizure were violated when police accessed cell tower data without a warrant to connect him to the crimes.
A ruling from the Supreme Court in favor of Carpenter would mean stricter limitations on law enforcement accessing this type of data. But law enforcement officials say they're not worried about the outcome.
"As long as law enforcement has the ability to prove up in emergency situations, where they need access to that data now, and there exists that avenue, I think that we'll be fine," said Mitch Slaymaker of the Texas Municipal Police Association.
For years the government has had access to records you've shared with a third party, like phone companies or banks, without a warrant. That's because the Supreme Court has ruled that you'd given up your right to privacy.
However, lawyers for the plaintiff will argue that location data is so sensitive that it should be given a special status.
According to legal experts, the ruling could have an outsized impact on this new frontier of civil liberties.
"If they rule for the government, I think there's going to be some real negative implications as far as digital privacy goes," said attorney JT Morris.
Some are concerned that a ruling in favor of the government could mean easier police access into a digital world that's increasingly intertwined with everyday life.
"And that could have a chilling effect on how people interact with technology, how they use technology," Morris said.
But Slaymaker said police aren't rooting for a particular outcome in this case, and will do whatever is best, and legal.
"Show me the hoop, we'll jump through it," Slaymaker said. "I mean, we follow the rules."