Local Cops Following Big Brother’s Lead, Getting Cell Phone Location Data Without a Warrant
By Hanni Fakhoury
April 3, 2012
New data from law enforcement agencies across the country has confirmed what EFF has long been afraid of: while police are routinely using cell phone location tracking information, only a handful of agencies are bothering to obtain search warrants.
Since 2005, we’ve been beating the drum loudly, warning that the government’s attempts to track a person’s physical location through their cell phone requires a search warrant. As we’ve said again and again, because cell phone tracking can give the government a snapshot of a person’s life through their movements, a search warrant is necessary to safeguard against privacy intrusions.
Now new data — obtained from a coordinated FOIA request by the ACLU — shows just how pervasive cell phone tracking is throughout the United States. The ACLU obtained 5,500 pages of records from over 200 different law enforcement agencies. The records revealed that most law enforcement agencies are using location tracking information routinely, with only 10 out of the more than 200 claiming they had not tracked cell phones.