Who’s tracking us through our cellphones?
Here are two stories in the news this past month regarding tracking the locations of mobile phones:
By Matt Richtel
How widely is the U.S. government using cell phones to pinpoint the locations or track the movements of Americans, or people living on American soil?
In November 2007, the American Civil Liberties filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Justice seeking records related to such tracking practices. The DOJ did not provide the requested information, the ACLU said.
And so Tuesday, the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit in federal court to try to force the DOJ to comply.
In a press release, the ACLU said that the information about how and how often the government tracks Americans using cell phones needs to come to light to determine if the efforts are unconstitutional.
The ACLU said it filed the initial data request after media reports showed that some government officials were claiming not to require “probable cause” of a crime being committed before getting court permission to do real-time tracking of cell phones.
Source: Matt Richtel, New York Times Bits Blog, July 1, 2008
Attorney Patrick Mueller forwarded the following story:
Northeastern University researchers observed the travel patterns of 100,000 cell phone users without their consent for a physics study published yesterday, says an Associated Press report. The study tracked individuals by noting which cell phone towers picked up their signals when they made or received calls or text messages over a period of six months. Co-author of the study Cesar Hidalgo said that knowing people’s travel patterns can benefit society in terms of designing better transportation systems and fighting diseases. But some say this type of nonconsensual tracking is troubling. “There is plenty going on here that sets off ethical alarm bells about privacy and trustworthiness,” said Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania.
Source: Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, June 4, 2008
For full text of the article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080604.wgtcellstudy0604/BNStory/Technology/