Cell Phones & Smartphones

Fighting a Striking Case of Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking

Fighting a Striking Case of Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking

By Bennett Stein, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 4:16pm
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is currently considering a case that could be pivotal in determining whether the government needs a warrant to track your cell phone. Today the ACLU, together with the ACLU of Maryland, Center for Democracy & Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, filed an amicus brief arguing that the Fourth Amendment requires the government get a warrant to find out everywhere a person has been for the past seven months. In the case, United States v. Graham, the government obtained a staggering 221 days of historical cell site location information for two suspects. For one suspect, Aaron Graham, this timespan allowed the government to sweep up his location at 29,659 specific points. (You can see our brief here, and see here a document we filed that shows all of Sprint's cell sites in the Baltimore area.)
Mobile Phone Surveillance by the Numbers

Mobile Phone Surveillance by the Numbers

By Chris Calabrese, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:56am

Wow.  Sometimes one word says it all.  The New York Times reports that in response to letters from Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), mobile phone providers disclosed that they received approximately 1.3 million law enforcement…

Court Says No GPS Tracking? How About Cell Phone Tracking?

Court Says No GPS Tracking? How About Cell Phone Tracking?

By Sarah Roberts, Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 12:55pm

After the Supreme Court ruled the police cannot attach a GPS device to a suspect's car to track them, law enforcement is trying to use cell phone location data to get the same information.

The Results From Our Nationwide Cell Phone Tracking Records Requests

The Results From Our Nationwide Cell Phone Tracking Records Requests

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 1:38pm

The ACLU has released the results of our public records requests to hundreds of police departments asking about their cell phone tracking policies. What we have learned is disturbing.

New Documents Show Lopsided Reliance on Secret Subpoenas

New Documents Show Lopsided Reliance on Secret Subpoenas

By Kade Crockford, Director, ACLU of Massachusetts Technology for Liberty Project at 12:29pm

What happens when legislatures pass laws enabling law enforcement to obtain sensitive, private information about people without requiring any evidence of criminal activity, and without any outside oversight whatsoever?

Fishing expeditions.

Take…

Federal Appeals Court Rules the Government Can Track Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant

Federal Appeals Court Rules the Government Can Track Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 5:12pm

It has long been our position that the government must obtain a warrant based on probable cause before engaging in surveillance of people's historical cell phone location information. Today, our efforts were dealt a setback. Over a strong dissent,…

ACLU Challenges 67 Days of Warrantless Cell Phone Location Tracking

ACLU Challenges 67 Days of Warrantless Cell Phone Location Tracking

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:55am

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals may soon decide whether police need a warrant to track the location of your cell phone over the course of days or weeks. The case, United States v. Davis, involves a warrantless police request for four people's…

Blurred photo of Supreme Court building

How the Supreme Court Could Have Ruled in Riley

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:17am

Privacy advocates are celebrating the Supreme Court’s recognition in yesterday’s Riley v. California ruling that, as some have succinctly put it, “digital is different.” Chief Justice Roberts’s 9-0 opinion in the case is straightforward and…

Cell Phone Companies Reveal How Much Cops Love Your Phone

Cell Phone Companies Reveal How Much Cops Love Your Phone

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 12:06pm

Cellphones are the spies in our pockets, gathering information about whom we befriend, what we say, where we go, and what we read. That’s why Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., recently asked the nation’s major cellphone companies to disclose how frequently they receive requests from law enforcement for customer call records—including the content of communications, numbers dialed, websites visited, and location data. Sometimes police have a warrant, sometimes they don’t.

Seven companies provided information in response to the inqury. The letters Markey received, which were covered today in the Boston Globe, Washington Post, and New York Times, show that the quantity of requests for these records is staggering. T-Mobile and AT&T together received nearly 600,000 requests for customer information in 2012. AT&T has to employ more than 100 full-time workers to process them. And police demand for our call records is growing rapidly, with requests to Verizon doubling in the last five years.

This piece was originally published on Slate. Click here to read the full article.

New Location Tracking Video Released

New Location Tracking Video Released

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 2:04pm

Our crack communications staff here at the ACLU have taken the graphical blog post I did on location tracking, and what it might look like in the future, and turned it into a snappy new video.

All of our materials on the various facets of the…

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