The debate over whether is a good idea or not, an invasion of privacy or not, helping fight criminality or not, is long winding and has very vocal opinions from both camps (those who oppose it and those who don’t). Since the US government made it illegal to track vehicles with GPS without warrants, the next privacy debate that shot off was the one regarding the practice of using cell phone trackers to pinpoint individual’s locations. This is a practice that the US police and law enforcement agencies had been carrying on for awhile now.
However, the recent ACLU court law suit has forced agencies to temporarily limit this practice. The Department of Justice has already voiced how it feels that the privacy of those who have been involved and acquitted from cell phone tracking accusations should be honored. By this it was meant that the details of such cases and such government employed officials should be kept private.
What They’re Saying
Now however, the DOJ has decided to be more vocal on the matter and has released a statement saying that there is a very real need for warrantless cell phone tracking by law enforcement agencies so that the government would not be ‘crippled’. This statement was released at the ‘State of the Mobile Net’ government conference. The Department of Justice has been known to be a long term defendant of the use of cell phone monitoring when it comes to criminal investigations. It also argued in the favor of it in the case of United States Vs. Jones.
But this statement was met with a response from the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) invalidating their assertion. A council member pointed out how not a single Justice agreed with the DOJ’s argument in that case. What is more, it was also pointed out that it received zero votes and that criminals ‘are not taking over the country’. Hence no real loss from posing mandatory warrants they claim.
Money to be Made
Cell phone companies feel no qualms when it comes to handing out location data to law enforcement agencies without warrants. The reason being is quite simple; lots of money to be made. After all such crucial data is worth a lot to many agencies. There has already been a lot of talk regarding the special divisions and manuals that cell phone companies distribute to law enforcement agencies. Potentially, it’s a business client relationship. Putting in a warrant is going to potentially limit the amount of information that these mobile providers get to sell out to the investigative authorities. Keeping that in mind, we know what their stance is trying to track a cell phone without a warrantless; they’re all for it.
Regardless what anyone or any faction is saying, critics of warrantless cell phone tracking retain that more privacy elimination is not what is going to solve the country’s criminal problems. The DOJ’s stance that ‘any privacy protection’ is too much protection is completely out of line according to the EFF and a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. And this is what they will continue to use as a reference for all their future stances as well as against those who attempt to dwaddle away privacy for financial gain.
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