7th Circuit rules against defendant in “tower dump” case.

In this case, the 7th Circuit was reviewing consolidated appeals from convictions for robberies of mobile phone stores. As part of its own corporate investigation, T-Mobile conducted tower dumps from cell towers near the stores in question. T-Mobile found a phone number in common that belonged to one of the defendants. They then followed that cell phone’s approximate location and then turned all of their information over to the FBI.

The FBI went and got a court order pursuant to the Stored Communications Act. When the defendant complained of the lack of a warrant, the Seventh Circuit ruled that what T-Mobile did was as a private party and not as a government agent. They also ruled that the service agreement in question between the defendant and T-mobile allowed T-mobile to turn the information over as the agreement as worded constituted the defendant’s consent. The Seventh Circuit also implied, if not ruled, that tower dumps were not covered by Carpenter. Finally, the Seventh Circuit invoked waiver and the good faith exception.

The case is United States v. Adkinson, 916 F.3d 605, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4508 (February 14, 2019).

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