ACLU Releases info, says Cops Tracking Phones
The debate continues: Should law enforcement be allowed to monitor cell phones? On one hand, tracking a cell phone would give law enforcement access to all kinds of information that may otherwise take weeks or months to discover. On the other hand, it sets a dangerous precedent and is considered to be a massive invasion of privacy, especially if it is done without the proper warrant. As cell phones have continued to develop in technology and practicality, it seems that many people today practically live in and out of their phones. That is why police consider it to be such a crucial piece of evidence.
Therefore, anyone that can gain access to a cell phone can learn anything and everything they need to know about their target. Several new developments in the story are made every day. The newest of these developments is that the famed American Civil Liberties Union is claiming that dozens of law enforcement agencies have been tracking the cell phones of common civilians without proper warranting or probable cause.
ACLU staff attorney released a public statement on the issue, saying: “The most disturbing finding of our study is that law enforcement agents frequently track the locations of cell phones without getting a warrant based on probable cause. Where someone goes can reveal a great deal of information about them, from who all of their friends are to what medical professionals they visit to what civic or political organizations they join.”
The ACLU recently performed a study of the cell phone tracking activities of law enforcement offices around the United States. They sent out a survey to 383 different law enforcement offices. Of that 383, only about 200 offices responded to the survey. And of those 200 offices, only 10 offices reported that they do not monitor cell phone activity.
The police chief in Apex, N.C., also made a public comment about the issue. He says that tracking cell phones proves vital and that it can lead to saving lives. “We had only used cell phone data to try and locate reported missing persons during active cases where there were concerns for the missing persons’ welfare,” Chief Jack Lewis said.
“The basis for use is the reasonable belief that (the) one missing is endangered.”
But the ACLU didn’t stop their accusations there. They released another comment that divulged information regarding cell phone service providers. According to the ACLU, several cell phone service providers have found a way to make a profit off of the law enforcement tracking by charging law enforcement to view records and track phones.
AT&T, Bell South, Cricket, MetroPCS, Sprint and T-Mobile are all listed in the ACLU release as charging law enforcement agencies for things like “retention information,” and “subpoena compliance.” However, no dollar amounts are provided.
T-Mobile vigorously denies any wrongdoing, and insists all charges listed by the ACLU are above board. “T-Mobile only releases customer information to law enforcement as permitted under existing law,” a spokesperson said in an email. “Any fees related to fulfilling lawful requests are cost recovery measures as allowed by applicable law.”
An AT&T spokesman was direct. “We do not sell your personal information to anyone for any reason. Period.”