(via ACLU email)
Earlier today, in a big victory for privacy rights, the Supreme Court ruled in U.S. v. Jones that the government violated the Fourth Amendment when it attached a GPS device to Antoine Jones's car and tracked his movements continuously for a month without a warrant. The ACLU filed an amicus in the case.
This was a critical decision for defending the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unreasonable searches. But even more significant, this was the first time in 20 years, the Supreme Court has had to consider the constitutionality of location-tracking technology.
As the court made clear, attaching a GPS device to a car and tracking its movements implicates the Fourth Amendment. Unfortunately, the government is likely to persist in arguing that the decision does not apply to tracking the location of cell phones.
Tell Congress: The government can't use our cell phones as tracking devices without a warrant.
From GPS tracking to wireless surveillance, the ACLU is making sure your rights are protected and your privacy is respected.
Today was a big first victory. Now, we need to keep pushing for better privacy laws.
Help keep cell phone location data private. Contact Congress today, and tell them you value your privacy!
Thank you for all you've done to push for better privacy laws. We're starting to see the benefits of all that hard work. We can see even more progress if we keep pushing forward together.
Thanks for all you do,
Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director, ACLU
(please personalize if used)
Quote:Please Co-Sponsor the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act
Dear [Decision Maker],
I am writing to urge you to contact Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) or Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to sign on as a co-sponsor and to pledge your support for the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act, H.R. 2168 and S.1212, bills that would protect sensitive location information data by requiring law enforcement to get a warrant based on probable cause before accessing it and also regulate the use of this information by businesses. The recent case of U.S. v. Jones, bolsters support for the bill. It outlawed a particular type of tracking and a majority of the court held that longer term location monitoring implicated our expectations of privacy.
The danger that unregulated location tracking poses to American's privacy is real, immediate and universal. Because of the prevalence of mobile phones in modern society, every American is carrying a portable tracking device, one that can be used to reveal their current and past location. These devices can reveal our every move. Whether it is a visit to a therapist or liquor store, church or gun range, many individuals' locations will be available either in real time or months later. Because of the sensitivity and invasiveness of these records, law enforcement agents should always be required to obtain a warrant and show probable cause, no matter the technology employed or the age of the records.
Unfortunately, the government frequently obtains location tracking information without first obtaining a warrant and establishing probable cause. Law enforcement has obtained location information since at least the late 1990s, but more than a decade later, we still have no uniform standard for when law enforcement can access this information. While the Department of Justice has issued recommendations setting out when prosecutors should show probable cause, United States Attorneys' Offices are apparently free to ignore these recommendations, and some have chosen to do so. Even worse, the government seems to have engaged in a coordinated effort to prevent the creation of a uniform standard by refusing to seek appellate court decisions on the issue. This legal maneuvering has prevented public debate and allowed a practice that is not consistent with our constitutional principles to become entrenched.
As the Supreme Court has recognized in the case of U.S. v. Jones, Congress is the branch of government best positioned to make sure that privacy is respected in the face of new mobile tracking technologies. The Executive has proven itself unwilling to voluntarily show probable cause and the court can only act as cases are brought before them.