People love their phones. Phones now accompany us pretty much wherever we go, whatever we do. People use their phones in church, in restaurants, at the theatre, and, apparently, while committing crimes. And our phones are leaving a trail behind us.
Police know this. They also know that records are created every time our phones connect to cell towers to send and receive calls, SMS messages, or data. Every one of those records indicates that a phone (and, implicitly, the person carrying it) was in range of a particular cell tower, at a particular time.
This could be useful information if, say, one wanted to identify the person (or people) responsible for a string of jewelry store robberies.
The method will be familiar to many from movies and T.V. shows: all you need to do is to gather a list of every single person who was near each of the locations of interest at the time of interest and analyze the patterns. And, hey, that cell tower data can provide that list….
But is it legal?
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