A study conducted by researchers Kevin Bankston and Ashkan Soltani and published in the Yale Law Journal assigned an actual dollar amount to the cost of tracking someone via cellphone and, by comparison, it’s astonishingly low.
A five-car operation ready to follow a suspect in any direction runs about $275 an hour. To track that suspect’s car if it’s equipped with a GPS device is a paltry 36 cents an hour. Now, to track that same person using their cell phone will cost as little as four cents an hour. Tracking rates vary by carrier ranging anywhere from 4 cents an hour through Sprint to $5.21 an hour through AT&T for short-term tracking.
Although in 2012 the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to track a car’s GPS without a warrant, there are no laws in place yet regarding cell phone tracking. The researchers suggest cell phone tracking will follow in the steps of car GPS tracking. “When it was physically impossible to track everyone at the same time, you didn’t need a law for it,” Soltani says, “What we’re saying is that technology changes what’s possible, and as a result, we may need to add legal barriers to compensate for those changing technical barriers.”
on’s full paper here.