Blog of Rights

Catherine
Crump

Catherine Crump (@CatherineNCrumpclerked for the Hon. M. Margaret McKeown, a judge on U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, prior to joining the ACLU. Crump graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School. She is a non-residential fellow with the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.

Better Than a Tinfoil Hat

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 4:06pm
Wired’s ThreatLevel blog published a list of “9 Reasons Wired Readers Should Wear Tinfoil Hats.” Well, that’s one option. But if you’re concerned about Big Brother tracking Americans’ movements or rifling through our laptops, why not support the ACLU instead?
Judge to Feds: To Track Cell Phones, Get a Warrant

Judge to Feds: To Track Cell Phones, Get a Warrant

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 3:33pm

In a victory for the privacy rights of everyone with a cell phone, a court has held that law enforcement agents must get a warrant to access cell phone location records. The ACLU, ACLU of Texas and Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted a brief…

Justices Press Government on Limits of Warrantless Location Tracking

Justices Press Government on Limits of Warrantless Location Tracking

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 9:48am

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard argument in an important case that confronts how to apply Fourth Amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures to new technologies.

Warrantless GPS Tracking Case Heads to Supreme Court

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 10:31am

Today the Supreme Court announced it will consider whether the government may plant GPS devices on vehicles to track people without judicial supervision. In the case, United States v. Jones, the FBI and Washington, D.C., police attached a GPS…

What’s the Difference Between Facebook and a Stranger on the Street?

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 10:55am

“Can you guys give us a list of every friend you’ve ever had? In alphabetical order, please.” This question, posed by a pair of geeky guys to two blondes, is part of a great satire of Facebook put together by the Australian…

What the Government Wants to Know About You

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 4:32pm

Earlier this month, news broke that the government got a court order to force Twitter to reveal the private account information of some people associated with WikiLeaks. What is unusual about the situation is not that the government obtained such…

Federal Judge Finds Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking Unconstitutional

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 1:33pm

In August, we blogged about a court decision from the federal court in the Eastern District of New York that held that law enforcement agents are constitutionally obligated to get a warrant based on probable cause before obtaining historical cell…

North Carolina Wants to Know What You Bought from Amazon

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 5:29pm

On Monday, Amazon.com sued the State of North Carolina after the state issued a summons that would, according to Amazon, require it to identify what books, CDs and DVDs its customers in North Carolina had purchased. The North Carolina Department…

LGBT Filtering Victory!

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 4:47pm

Yesterday we won a great settlement of a lawsuit against two Tennessee school districts. Before, public schools in Nashville and Knoxville had blocked access to all Web sites that presented positive information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender…

Everywhere You Want to Be, and Everywhere You Once Were

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 5:45pm

(Originally posted on Daily Kos.)

We recently submitted a brief (PDF) to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in a case about the legal limits of the government using people's cell phones to monitor their whereabouts, a.k.a. "cell phone tracking." The case is about what requirements must be met in order for the governmentto obtain a record of someone's past movements from the telephone company. The government argues (PDF) that it is entitled to this information whenever it shows the information is "relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation." The ACLU and our coalition partners the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy & Technology and the ACLU of Pennsylvania argue that judges should be free to require the government to show probable cause, which we believe is required by the Fourth Amendment.

If you're like most people, you're probably not aware that your cell phone can be used to track your movements. It can. If your phone is fairly new, the odds are it has a GPS chip inside. The same technology that allows car navigation systems to know where your car is can be used to track your movements through your cell phone. But even if your phone doesn't have a GPS chip, it still has to connect to the cell phone network somehow. It transmits to the nearest cell network tower and, because the location of those towers is known, it's possible to approximate the location of you and your phone.

Statistics image