Don’t want the police or your local government to know where you are? Then put your cell phone in airplane mode or turn it off.
Location tracking is inherent in how cell networks function; otherwise nobody’s cell phone would ring. But new evidence from the American Civil Liberties Union shows that phone location tracking has also become a surprisingly common tool of law-enforcement investigations — with, but often without, a warrant.
The ACLU recently obtained records from over 200 police departments and other law enforcement agencies around the U.S. They found that “virtually all” of these agencies track the location of cell phones with data supplied by wireless carriers. (For information on police in your state, check the ACLU’s interactive map, which shows details from responding agencies. Not all states or agencies responded to ACLU’s public-records requests.)
But don’t the police need a warrant for that? It varies by state, but carriers generally say they require a court order to release this data. Regardless of these requirements, however, “Only a tiny minority reported consistently obtaining a warrant and demonstrating probable cause to do so,” said the ACLU.
Not surprisingly, the ACLU disapproves of this practice.
“The government should have to obtain a warrant based upon probable cause before tracking cell phones. That is what is necessary to protect Americans’ privacy, and it is also what is required under the Constitution,” states the ACLU on its site…
If the police decide they want to know where you’ve been, it’s likely that your carrier will tell them, for the right price. And right now, there’s no way to prevent that.
Keep on rocking in the Free World!
One of the ways you might have prevented Telcos from collaboration was by suing them. Which is why our benevolent government has made that illegal. I’ve mentioned a class action suit folks won against the FBI – back in the day – for illegal wiretapping. That started with suing the regional telephone company and winning that case first. They assisted the Feds without warrants or court orders.
When it came settlement time in court they asked how much money we wanted – and the answer was “you’re going to pick up the tab for suing the FBI. Whatever it is. You pay for it.”
They did and we won.