Warrantless Cell Phone Tapping? How Police May Be Secretly Tracking You
Continued from previous page
The Times also found that Sprint once billed the Raleigh, North Carolina, Police Department at a "reduced rate" of $50 for an historic tower search and added $30 more for a search of "L-Site GPS pings," while the ACLU reported that Sprint had billed the Phoenix Police Department $460 for the GPS "pings" over a two-day period in 2009.
"The bottom line is that our mobile phone companies should be working for us, their customers, not the police, says Nicole Ozer, an ACLU staff attorney.
Not only are the wireless providers profiting from your privacy by working with the police, they are lobbying to be able to continue to do so. Even as the debate rages over warrantless cell phone tracking, cell carriers are geared up to oppose legislation that would force the companies to publicly report the number of times their employees provide cell phone location information to police and federal agents.
One important proposal is California Senate Bill 1434 , introduced by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), which would prohibit carriers from revealing data to police without a warrant. Wireless providers are joining together to fight it.
"These reporting mandates would unduly prevent us to insure the public's safety and to save lives," AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile said in a joint statement .
The battle continues. Motivated by the ACLU research and news reports on the controversy surrounding warrantless cell phone tracking, US Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) recently convened a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to gather support for the GPS Act. At the hearing, Franken unveiled a letter he had written to Attorney General Holder seeking information on Justice Department cell phone tracking activity, what the department's stance on the standard for requests for historical location data (cell sites, GPS data), and whether the department had changed its practices in the light of the Jones decision.
He is still awaiting a response from Justice.
On the legal front, with state and federal courts split in their decisions on whether warrantless phone tracking violates the Fourth Amendment, the tens of millions of Americans who use cell phones and smart phones will have to wait for the Supreme Court to be the final arbiter. In the meantime, they could just be tracking you -- warrant or not.