Are you using Google or Apple Maps on your smartphone? These apps are perhaps the most useful and widely used in the US, if not the world. What you may not realize is that the app could be tracking and storing nearly every move you, your clients, or your adversaries make, depending on your phone’s settings.
This example of the data that Google maintained about a weekend trip I took four years ago stunned me. Google still had my GPS location data that tracked my movement over the course of the weekend down to the minute.
To take a look at your personal GPS trail, go to: https://www.google.com/maps/timeline.
If you think that you are safe from GPS tracking because you do not use Google Maps, think again. Apple maps also tracks location data. If you have enabled “Significant Locations” on you iPhone, you have brought Apple into your world. Below are some screenshot examples of the data my iPhone stored about my recent visit to Wooden McLaughlin’s Evansville Office. These show that I arrived at 12:16 after a 3:19 drive, and stayed at the office for roughly 4 hours, leaving at 6:15.
Phone users can take a look at Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Significant Locations
The usefulness of this sort of data in a litigation context can be immense in the right circumstances. Oftentimes, we think of detailed GPS tracking as something only available to law enforcement or via a drawn out non-party subpoena process with cell phone providers, who may or may not have already purged the data from the relevant time-period. However, cellular providers are not the only source. Your clients, the opposing party, or non-party witnesses could very well have this information in their “custody or control,” readily available in their Google account history or iPhones and if the request for such information is narrow enough to minimize privacy concerns, you stand a good chance of getting it.
Williams v. United States, 331 F.R.D. 1 (2019) has an interesting and detailed discussion on the proportionality of location data weighed against privacy interests. While the Court denied the particularly broad location data requests in that case, the Court undertook a thorough analysis of the factors involved. This analysis could provide a roadmap for creating narrowly tailored requests that would overcome proportionality objections.
 2:19 reflects hour ‘gained’ by going from Indianapolis (EDT) to Evansville (CDT).