The news you're not supposed to know...

Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand the World
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
Article posted May 06 2012, 5:59 PM Category: Big Brother/Orwellian Source: Print

DOJ Official: Any Privacy Protection is Too Much Privacy Protection for Cell Phone Tracking

BY HANNI FAKHOURY, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Jason Weinstein, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice's criminal division, told a panel at the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee's "State of the Mobile Net" conference yesterday that requiring a search warrant to obtain location tracking information from cell phones  would "cripple" prosecutors and law enforcement officials. We couldn't disagree more.

For years, we've been arguing that cell phone location data should only be accessible to law enforcement with a search warrant. After all, as web enabled smart phones become more prevalent, this location data reveals an incredibly revealing portrait of your every move. As we've waged this legal battle, the government has naturally disagreed with us, claiming that the Stored Communications Act authorizes the disclosure of cell phone location data with a lesser showing than the probable cause requirement demanded by a search warrant. 

Since the new year, a number of significant developments has led to increased awareness on this important topic. First, the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in United States v. Jones which held that the warrantless attachment of a GPS device on a car violated the Fourth Amendment's right to be free from unreasonable government searches. In concurring opinions, Justices Sotomayor and Alito both noted that technology had the power to shrink privacy, particularly with respect to locational privacy, as the information gleaned from web enabled smartphones supplanted the need for law enforcement to physically install GPS devices in order to track someone. Then in March, we filed an amicus brief along with a number of other civil liberties organizations, urging the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule that cell phone location data requires a search warrant. In April, the ACLU released the results of a coordinated FOIA request that found law enforcement officials throughout the country were routinely obtaining cell phone location tracking information with differing legal methods and standards, and were frequently getting this information without a search warrant.

Its this last point -- the differing standards for disclosure and legislative attempts to make those standards uniform -- that sets up Weinstein's comments (you can hear the full audio here). Noting that Jones requires a warrant for GPS data, but that courts have reached conflicting opinions on whether a search warrant is necessary for cell phone location tracking records that are held by wireless company providers, he rightfully noted "there really is no fairness and no justice when the law applies differently to different people depending on which courthouse you're sitting in." But unfortunately, the DOJ's solution for this problem is for Congress to say that cell phone location tracking records held by third parties -- typically the cell phone providers -- are not subject to the search warrant's probable cause requirement, as it would "cripple" law enforcement. To be clear, despite Weinstein's comments that he's only speaking for himself, DOJ's explicit position is that no warrant is necessary, as that's what they've consistently told courts, including the Fifth Circuit.

The problem with the DOJ's position is that it fails to take into account privacy. The only way to ensure "fairness" and "justice," is to demand that our Fourth Amendment rights not be violated by law enforcement working closely with cell phone providers to access your location information without your knowledge. We've already seen that despite the ruling in Jones, law enforcement and the wireless industry are finding ways to continue their pre-Jones practices of warrantless surveillance amid a stunning lack of transparency. We're slowly seeing legislative action in the right direction on these important issues. On the federal level, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Or) has proposed the GPS Act, that would require law enforcement to obtain a search warrant to access location information. In California, we sponsored a bill with the ACLU of Northern California, to require law enforcement to get a search warrant anytime it wants location information about another person in California. And earlier this week, Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass) sent a request (PDF) to the biggest wireless carriers, demanding information about their relationship with law enforcement.

Requiring the police to obtain a search warrant -- the traditional method for balancing law enforcement needs with individual privacy -- and demanding the wireless industry be transparent about how they deal with law enforcement requests for location information are critical steps in the right direction, towards "fairness" and "justice," location privacy and transparency.

Latest Big Brother/Orwellian
- California Law Requires Police to Get a Warrant Before Accessing Your Data
- Drudge on AJ: Copyright Laws Will Destroy the Internet
- Homeland Security Detains Stockton Mayor, Forces Him to Hand Over His Passwords
- GCHQ's Karma Police: Tracking and Profiling Every Web User, Every Web Site
- Senate Intelligence Committee Ends Efforts To Turn Social Media Companies Into Government Spies
- Mandatory Breathalyzers Could Soon Be in Every Car If Feds Have Their Way
- Glenn Greenwald Debates Former NSA Director Keith B. Alexander At HP Conference
- NY Pushing for Black Boxes in Your Car That Records Everything About Your Driving

No Comments Posted Add Comment

Add Comment


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below

Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy

Advanced Search


Remember Me
Forgot Password?

Daughter Calls 911 to Help Suicidal Mother, Cops Shoot Her by Mistake, Then Kill Her Mom - 10/12VIDEO: Roid Raging Cop Chokes and Body Slams Sports Fan For No Reason - 10/12VIDEO: Police Officers "Protect a Serve" a Computer Science Student -- to Death - 10/12Drone Operator Seen Schooling Cop In Viral Video Arrested For Crashing Drone Into Capitol - 10/12Cop Shoots Family's Dog, Accidentally Hits 4-Year-Old Girl, Leaves Scene Without Helping - 10/1216-Yr-Old & His Mom Tazed & Arrested After Boy's Waving at Cop Deemed 'Suspicious' - 10/09Mom Violently Attacked by Cop While Picking Daughter Up From School, For Parking On The Grass - 10/12The Mystery of ISIS' Toyota Army Solved - 10/09

Man Follows Speeding Cop, Finds Out He Was Speeding To Buy PeanutsMission Creeps: Homeland Security Agents Confiscate Women's Panties For 'Copyright Infringement'Cop Shoots Couple's Dog, Threatens Jail For Trying To Save Dog's LifeSWAT Team Shoots Teen Girl & Her Dog During Pot Raid On Wrong HomeDurham, NC Cop Testifies Faking 911 Calls To Enter Homes Is "Official Policy"Indiana Sheriff Says US A "War Zone" To Justify New MRAP Military VehicleTampa Cops Surveil Pot Dealer, Catch Him Selling Pot, Raid His Home & Kill Him"You Just Shot An Unarmed Man!": Witness Says Police Shot His Friend With His Hands Up