Fighting for cell phone privacy

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says it’ll
ask a federal appeals court to demand the government
gets a warrant before collecting cell phone location
information.

The oral argument is set for Tuesday at 9:00 am in New Orleans.

At issue are government requests for
judicial orders authorizing the disclosure of 60 days of
location data from two separate cell phone companies as
part of a routine law enforcement investigation,” says the foundation, going on.

“A magistrate judge denied the request, saying the government
needed to apply for a search warrant supported by probable
cause to obtain the information. The district court judge
agreed with the magistrate’s finding, and the government
appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
5th Circuit.

“In this case – and in many others across the U.S. – the
government claims that cell phone users give up their
privacy rights because they have voluntarily disclosed
their physical location to the cell phone providers every
time a phone connects to the provider’s cell tower.
Government attorneys argue this means investigators do not
need a warrant to get access to location history. However,
this theory undermines privacy in nearly any networked
communication. At Tuesday’s hearing, EFF Staff Attorney
Hanni Fakhoury will argue that obtaining a warrant for cell
location data is essential to ensuring Fourth Amendment
protections.

Tuesday’s hearing comes just weeks after the US Court of
Appeals for the 6th Circuit allowed the government warrantless access
to cell phone location records.

“That conflicts with a 2010 decision from the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, which ruled that a court could
require the government to obtain a search warrant to access
location information. The case being argued Tuesday is
just the third case to reach the federal appellate courts
on this issue, and the conflicting circuit court decisions
could encourage Supreme Court attention,”  says the EFF.

 Jon Newton — myblogdammit

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