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New Court Decision Affirms that 4th Amendment Protects Location Information
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 11:09:01 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: EFF Press <press () eff org>
Date: September 11, 2008 11:02:37 AM EDT
To: presslist () eff org
Subject: [E-B] EFF: New Court Decision Affirms that 4th Amendment Protects Location Information
Reply-To: press () eff org

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

For Immediate Release: Thursday, September 11, 2008


Kevin Bankston
  Senior Staff Attorney
  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  bankston () eff org
  +1 415 436-9333 x126

Rebecca Jeschke
  Media Coordinator
  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  press () eff org
  +1 415 436-9333 x125

New Court Decision Affirms that 4th Amendment Protects
Location Information

Government Must Get a Warrant Before Seizing Cell Phone
Location Records

San Francisco - In an unprecedented victory for cell phone
privacy, a federal court has affirmed that cell phone
location information stored by a mobile phone provider is
protected by the Fourth Amendment and that the government
must obtain a warrant based on probable cause before
seizing such records.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) had asked the federal court
in the Western District of Pennsylvania to overturn a
magistrate judge's decision requiring the government to
obtain a warrant for stored location data, arguing that the
government could obtain such information without probable
cause.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), at the
invitation of the court, filed a friend-of-the-court brief
opposing the government's appeal and arguing that the
magistrate was correct to require a warrant.  Wednesday,
the court agreed with EFF and issued an order affirming the
magistrate's decision.

EFF has successfully argued before other courts that the
government needs a warrant before it can track a cell
phone's location in real-time.  However, this is the first
known case where a court has found that the government must
also obtain a warrant when obtaining stored records about a
cell phone's location from the mobile phone provider.

"Cell phone providers store an increasing amount of
sensitive data about where you are and when, based on which
cell towers your phone uses when making a call.  Until now,
the government has routinely seized these records without
search warrants," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin
Bankston.  "This landmark ruling is hopefully only the
first of many.  Just as magistrates across the country have
begun denying government requests to track cell phones in
real-time without warrants, based on arguments first made
by EFF, so too do we hope this decision will spark new
scrutiny of the government's unconstitutional seizure of
stored cell phone location records."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU
Foundation of Pennsylvania, and the Center for Democracy
and Technology (CDT) joined EFF's brief.

For Wednesday's decision:

For the full amicus brief in the cell phone records case:

For more on cell phone tracking:

For this release:

About EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil
liberties organization working to protect rights in the
digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and
challenges industry and government to support free
expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported
organization and maintains one of the most linked-to
websites in the world at http://www.eff.org/


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