Location Tracking

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Federal Court Rules on One of the Major Outstanding Constitutional Privacy Questions of Our Time

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 9:13am
In a tremendous step forward for our right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held in United States v. Quartavious Davis that police need a warrant to obtain historical cell phone location information from a cell service provider. The ACLU filed an amicus brief in the case, along with the ACLU of Florida, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Center for Democracy & Technology, and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In April, I argued the cell phone tracking issue before a three-judge panel of the court.
Crop of photo by Paul Weiskel used by permission

Law Enforcement’s Lobbying Priority In States Is Fighting Transparency

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 9:38am

The ACLU has been working in states across the country on a variety of laws pertaining to law enforcement agencies and their power to gather and access information about us—including location tracking, drones, automatic license plate readers, and…

Photo of aircraft

ACLU Seeks Information About Airborne Cell Phone Snooping

By Bennett Stein, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at 7:59am

The ACLU is filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request today for information about a newly revealed Marshals Service program that uses aircraft to suck up location data from tens of thousands of people’s cell phones at a time.

The…

Photo of toll booth at night

Christie Use of Tollbooth Data and Why Location Privacy Must Be Protected

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 11:26am

David Sirota of the International Business Times reported last week that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and his appointee, the deputy governor of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, had released a political opponent's private tollbooth…

Image of radio signal in sky

ACLU Fights for Limits on Secret Phone Tracking

By Samia Hossain, William J. Brennan Fellow, ACLU Speech, Privacy, & Technology Project at 11:08am

In March of this year, Robert Harrison had a cell phone with him while he was inside his home. Though he has kept and used a cell phone as long as any of us, this time, things were different.

Unbeknownst to Harrison, Baltimore police officers…

Telephone by Vincent AF via Flickr

Americans' Confidence in Privacy of Electronic Communications is Very Low

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:16pm

Pew has a new poll out on Americans’ attitudes toward privacy, and it is full of interesting findings. A New York Times blog piece on the poll focused on the so-called “privacy paradox”—people’s seeming willingness to share personal information…

Blurred car lights at night

Location Apps Sharing Data With Governments

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 12:00pm

(Update: correction below)

Forbes reported last week that the crowdsourced mapping location service Waze is beginning to share bulk location data with government bodies—with Rio de Janeiro since 2013, and soon with the state of Florida. The…

Cell phone tower

New York Court Recognizes Privacy-Invasive Nature of Cell Tower Dumps But Stops Short of Requiring a Warrant

By Nathan Freed Wessler, Staff Attorney, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 5:49pm

A magistrate judge in New York has become only the second federal judge to issue a public ruling addressing the lawfulness of so-called “tower dumps”—the intrusive practice by which the government acquires location information for hundreds or…

Status of Location Privacy Legislation in the States

Status of Location Privacy Legislation in the States

By Allie Bohm, Advocacy & Policy Strategist, ACLU at 12:00am

In the wake of the NSA revelations, there has been an avalanche of state bills requiring law enforcement to obtain a probable cause warrant before tracking an individual’s location in an investigation. Most state legislators know they can’t control the NSA—but they can control their state and local law enforcement, which are engaging in some of the same invasive practices. The trend actually started in the wake of the ACLU’s nationwide public records requests on location tracking and the 2012 U.S. v. Jones decision, when Montana and Maine enacted the first two location tracking laws in the country—the recent revelations have simply increased the momentum.

Working closely with our lobbyists in state capitols around the country, we’ve been tracking this activity and working hard to make sure these privacy-protective bills become law. The chart below shows the current status of state legislation as we understand it. We will keep this chart up-to-date as we receive new information.

Image of car with lights at night

Lessons of the Uber Privacy Scandal

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at 4:12pm

Taxi-on-demand service Uber ran into hot water last week over reports that company executives have played fast and loose with some of the location data that the service records about its customers. A couple of thoughts about the scandal:

First,…

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