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Appeals Court Upholds Judicial Oversight Of Cell Phone Tracking By Law Enforcement

Ruling Affirms Privacy Rights Of Innocent Americans, Says ACLU

federal appeals court in Pennsylvania today held that judges can
require the government to show probable cause and obtain a warrant
before accessing individuals' historical cell phone location records.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Center for Democracy and
Technology (CDT) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, which
was before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, charging
that federal law grants judges the discretion to require the government
to obtain a warrant based on probable cause before accessing historical
cell phone records, and that cell phone users do not give up their
expectation of privacy just because third party cell phone companies
have access to their location information. The court agreed with those
views set forth in the brief.

The following can be attributed to Catherine Crump, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project:

"Today's ruling sends a message that
merely carrying a cell phone should not make people more susceptible to
government surveillance. Innocent Americans should not be made to feel
the government is following them wherever they go - including in their
own home. While there's no question that law enforcement agents should
have the tools they need to stop crimes, such tools must be used in a
manner that upholds the Constitution and personal privacy."

The friend-of-the-court brief is available online at:


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