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Cellphone Tracing Controversy Continues

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Face-Off Over Warrantless Cellphone Tracking at House Judiciary Committee Hearing

By  – Article Courtesy of:  SLATE

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Cell Phone Tracking – Image: InfoWars

Should cops need a warrant to use your cellphone to track your movements?

Law enforcement agencies and privacy advocates are in a long-standing face-off that might finally be coming to a head.

Tracking people using cellphone location data: Should it require a search warrant?

Yesterday, both sides were given the opportunity to argue their case as lawmakers consider bringing in new legislation to provide clarity on location privacy. For several years, confusion has surrounded the legal standard required for cops to track people by cellphone, with courts in different states issuing conflicting judgments.

The Justice Department has continued to argue that Americans have “no protected privacy interest” over historic location data stored by carriers. But civil rights groups disagree—and in recent months, the issue has generated nationwide attention, following the revelation that major wireless carriers had received more than 1.3 million requests for subscriber data from law enforcement in 2011 alone.

(The 1.3 million included requests for content of text messages, wiretaps, and geolocation information—sometimes as part of so-called “cell tower dumps” that involve carriers handing over data on all cell users that have connected to a tower during a specific period of time.)

In a House judiciary committee hearing Thursday, Peter Modafferi from the International Association of Chiefs of Police made the law enforcement case.

Modafferi argued that warrantless cell tracking is necessary because it enables cops to develop leads, establish suspects, and confirm facts after a crime has been committed—in other words, it helps provide the “fundamental building blocks” in the early stages of an investigation, he said in a written statement.

Changing the law so that cops would be forced to show probable cause and obtain a search warrant before obtaining historic cellphone location data, according to Modafferi, would hinder their ability to identify perpetrators of a crime and “make it significantly more difficult to solve crimes and seek justice for victims.”

However, Catherine Crump of the ACLU disagreed.

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By  – Article Courtesy of:  SLATE

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