Location Tracking

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 cell phone location records over a 67-day period. Yesterday evening the ACLU, along with the ACLU of Florida, Center for Democracy & Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers filed an amicus brief arguing that the government violated the Fourth Amendment when it obtained these location records from the men's wireless carrier without a warrant. For one suspect, Quartavious Davis, police got 11,606 location records—an average of 173 location points each day.
Police Documents on License Plate Scanners Reveal Mass Tracking

Police Documents on License Plate Scanners Reveal Mass Tracking

By Catherine Crump, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 10:01am

Automatic license plate readers are the most widespread location tracking technology you’ve probably never heard of. Mounted on patrol cars or stationary objects like bridges, they snap photos of every passing car, recording their plate numbers,…

AT&T Wants Us to Pay Them With Our Money And Our Privacy – How to Opt Out

AT&T Wants Us to Pay Them With Our Money And Our Privacy – How to Opt Out

By Nicole Ozer, Technology & Civil Liberties Policy Director, ACLU of Northern California at 5:43pm

I received an email from AT&T today. Did you? It turns out that AT&T is revising its privacy policy to make it “easier to understand” and by the way, also to let us know that they want us to pay them with our money and our privacy, too.…

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 &…

First in the Nation: Montana Requires a Warrant for Location Tracking

First in the Nation: Montana Requires a Warrant for Location Tracking

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 10:15am

Montana just made history. It recently enacted the first state law in the nation (sponsored by Rep. Daniel Zolnikov (R-Billings)) requiring...

If the Government Is Tracking Your Location or Reading Your Email, Would You Ever Know?

If the Government Is Tracking Your Location or Reading Your Email, Would You Ever Know?

By Patrick C. Toomey, Staff Attorney, ACLU National Security Project at 12:36pm

Court rulings unsealed last week in Washington show for the first time a behind-the-scenes legal battle over when the government should have to tell you that it's tracking your location and reading your email. These documents—which came to light…

Following Texas’s Lead on Location Tracking

Following Texas’s Lead on Location Tracking

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 4:21pm

Yesterday, the Texas House of Representatives passed the first bill in the nation that would require law enforcement to obtain a probable cause warrant before tracking individuals’ location by collecting their cell phone location data. As Rebecca…

What the Government Says When It Says Nothing

What the Government Says When It Says Nothing

By Bennett Stein, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 1:36pm

On May 8, the ACLU released a slew of government documents obtained from the FBI, U.S. Attorneys' offices around the country, and the Justice Department's Criminal Division concerning the government's access to the contents of private electronic communications.…

Federal Judge: Only Powered-Off Cell Phones Deserve Privacy Protections

Federal Judge: Only Powered-Off Cell Phones Deserve Privacy Protections

By Chris Soghoian, Principal Technologist and Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 11:27am

A federal magistrate judge in New York recently ruled that cell phone location data deserves no protection under the Fourth Amendment and that accordingly, the government can engage in real-time location surveillance without a search warrant. In an opinion straight from the Twilight Zone, magistrate judge Gary Brown ruled two weeks ago that “cell phone users who fail to turn off their cell phones do not exhibit an expectation of privacy.”

The case in question involved a physician who the DEA believed had issued thousands of prescriptions for pain killers in exchange for cash. In March of this year, the DEA had obtained a warrant for his arrest, and,

The House Hearing on Location Tracking Law (or the Lack Thereof)

The House Hearing on Location Tracking Law (or the Lack Thereof)

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 1:44pm

My colleague Catherine Crump testified before Congress today on location tracking and privacy, and the GPS Act that would increase legal protections for our location data. The hearing was before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, and you can read her written testimony submitted here.

The chairman of the committee, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (D-Wis.), is a strong supporter of updating the law. He opened the hearing by acknowledging that the law has not kept pace with new technology—certainly a truism, and certainly true with regards to location tracking in particular, but one that is good to hear accepted as fact by powerful lawmakers.

Sensenbrenner also slammed the Justice Department for not sending a witness to the hearing. The reason, he reported, is that “it lacks a clear policy position on ECPA,” referring to the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act. When Sensenbrenner was reading Catherine’s bio, which included mention of her efforts to find out how the DOJ is interpreting

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