Tracking your cell phone, even when you aren’t making a call?

The U.S. Department of Justice now says its use of a cellphone-tracking device in a controversial Arizona case could be considered a “search” under the Fourth Amendment, a tactical move legal experts say is designed to protect the secrecy of the gadgets known as “stingrays.”

For more than a year, federal prosecutors have argued in U.S. District Court that the use of the stingray device—which can locate a mobile phone even when it’s not being used to make a call—wasn’t a search, in part because the user had no reasonable expectation of privacy while using Verizon Wireless cellphone service. Under that argument, authorities wouldn’t need to obtain a search warrant before using one of the devices.

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