For The Third Time, No; Gov't Cannot Track Citizen Whereabouts Phone Data
The Justice Department apparently isn’t used to hearing “no” for an answer. For the third time in recent months, apparently, they’ve tried to get permission to track the whereabouts of certain individuals by using data from their mobile phones without first showing probable cause (normally needed for a traditional search warrant). In all three cases, the judges have denied those requests. The government’s argument is a bit scary: “A cell phone user voluntarily transmits a signal to the cell phone company, and thereby ‘assumes the risk’ that the cell phone provider will reveal to law enforcement the cell-site information.” In other words, they’re claiming that by using a mobile phone you should know that the data leaves you open to being tracked, and therefore, it’s no problem at all. The article notes that the DoJ hasn’t appealed any of these decisions, perhaps out of fear that a higher court would definitively slam the door on such tracking measures.