Law enforcement is taking advantage of outdated privacy laws to track Americans like never before. New technologies can record your every movement, revealing detailed information about how you choose to live your life. Without the right protections in place, the government can gain access to this information—and your private life—with disturbing ease.
As long as it is turned on, your mobile phone registers its position with cell towers every few minutes, whether or not the phone is in use. Since mobile carriers are retaining location data on their customers, government officials—often without a warrant from a judge—can obtain detailed personal information about you by accessing your location history from your cell phone company. In tandem with information from other location-tracking technologies (like automatic license plate readers), this information can tell the government an enormous deal about you, ranging from which friends you’re seeing to where you go to the doctor to how often you go to church.
Freedom from unreasonable government snooping has always been a foundation of liberty in America. Through coordinated open-government laws like the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU has uncovered the location-tracking policies and practices of hundreds of state and local police departments. We have also litigated in courts across the country to advocate for a warrant requirement for historical and real-time location information and lobbied in the U.S. Congress for the passage of the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act.
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