The DOJ Wants Access to Your Cell Phone Data…Without a Warrant



The Department of Justice is proposing that cellphone records be made more accessible to government.  DOJ deputy assistant attorney general, Jason Weinstein, claims that warrants “cripple” police and prosecutors, at the onset of an investigation.  Consequently, he believes they should be abolished.

The Supreme Court ruled on behalf of privacy, earlier in the year, contending that a warrant was, indeed, needed in order to attach a GPS satellite-tracking device to a given suspect’s car.  Weinstein, however, points out that federal courts across the country are not unified–they do not all agree that warrants, collected at towers that transmit cellphone signals, are required.  Weinstein is of the opinion that GPS tracking and obtaining data from cell phone towers are two different matters.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), on the other hand, has come out in strong disagreement with Weinstein.  EFF has consistently maintained, for years, that law enforcement’s accessing cell phone location data should be accompanied by a search warrant.  Keep in mind, EFF points out, that this data reveals a veritable blueprint of your every move.

The government cites the Stored Communications Act which allows for the disclosure of cell phone location data with a lower threshold than probable cause in terms of the requirement for a search warrant.  But, this year alone, three significant developments have led to a heightened awareness of this topic:

  • First, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in United States v. Jones which holds that the warrantless attachment of a GPS device on an automobile violates the Fourth Amendment’s right to be free from unreasonable government searches. In concurring opinions, Justices Alito and Sotomayor both noted that technology had the potential to minimize privacy, particularly in regard to locational privacy, because the information obtained from web enabled smartphones superseded the need for law enforcement to physically install GPS devices in order to track an individual.
  • Then in March, EFF filed an amicus brief along with various other civil liberties organizations, urging the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule that cell phone location data necessitates a search warrant.
  • In April, the ACLU released the results of a coordinated FOIA request that discovered law enforcement officials throughout the country were regularly obtaining cell phone location tracking information with “differing legal methods and standards,” and were often acquiring this information without a search warrant.

EFF affirms that it is the last point that Weinstein attempts to use in arguing against the need for search warrants.  Weinstein’s comments can be heard here.   Weinstein, according to EFF, does not take privacy into account.  It would appear that he is completely overlooking the Fourth Amendment and the violation that occurs when law enforcement work in collaboration with cell phone providers to gain access to location information.  And, this is done without your knowledge.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), however, has introduced the GPS Act which seeks to require search warrants in order to access location information.  And, in California, EFF in collaboration with the ACLU of Northern California, has sponsored a bill which would “require law enforcement to get a search warrant anytime it wants location information about another person in California.”

Most recently, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass) dispatched a request to the largest wireless carriers, demanding that they disclose information about their relationship with law enforcement.

-Candice Lanier

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1137662906 Glen J. Valiquette

    My cellphone records are in my pants.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1069399596 Ken Alan Draper

    The DOJ can have access to my butt so they can smooch it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000498049432 Jeff Holloway

    Eff them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1343002699 Karen Sinclair-Stubblefield

    Obama and his henchmen want to obliterate all of YOUR rights. The rules they pass won’t apply to them, of course.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000063110806 Leslie Vaughn Burckard

    Maybe we will not use them anymore..so there DOJ… y oh my what next???????????

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000631056274 Sean Devos

    What happened to the Fourth Amendment?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1473919561 Kathy Hilton

    Nancy Pelosi has got to go…She has worn out her welcome mat at our White House… She has swallowed too much wine & it has ate up her brain cells…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=750754027 Steven Drucker

    Well, we all know that holder doesn’t respect the authority of subpeonas. Why should warrants and checks and balances be any different?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1486966281 Carmine J. Ventura

    Perhaps we should all cancel our cellphone service then .

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002908947293 Mark Todd

    What about the Constitution they are supposed to uphold…I am ready fot honest Congressmen and women to get Eric out of the doj.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001179875349 Steve Demcak

    Totally wrong!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1000782769 Sheryl Molloy

    Perhaps we should cancel our president and Pelosi…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1206630777 Larry Madore

    I hate the smell of communism!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=678462253 Kendall Sontag

    Meh, the PATRIOT Act already allows this…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=678462253 Kendall Sontag

    Meh, the PATRIOT Act already allows this…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=678462253 Kendall Sontag

    Meh, the PATRIOT Act already allows this…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1002950704 Jeff Stoffel

    Just like with anything else that the corrupt DOJ or any other government agency wants from me, they can have it pointy end first!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=640934396 Tom Conde

    They already have access. What this law, and laws like NDAA and others do, is remove the govt agencies from the laws that govern the rest of us. We are losing the rule of law in this country at an exponential rate. All in the name of safety. But whose safety? Ours? Or those that would rule without any laws to bind them?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1798286175 Gregg Mcphedrain

    wouldn’t it be easier if we just lined up and went to a cell at nite for them to monitor us in?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1014474445 Sherry Taylor Schlereth

    Let’s face it, the DOJ has access to my cell phone data and a lot of other stuff already. Fact of life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1624602774 Gayle Dorton Royals

    That’s what people try to do when they want to take over and rule like a “kingship”!!! Anybody who would let them has their head in the sand!! Sorry if that offends, but that’s the way I see it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=750031686 Michael Gilbert Beard

    Good thing there’s a presidential candidate that opposes the unconstitutional breach of civil liberties enacted by the NDAA and the Patriot Act.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=633957090 Karen Cazad Adkins

    best have a warrant……or they can kiss my butt

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1326650025 Ken Lytle

    It’s not that I have anything to hide, but they can have my cell phone records when they pry them from my cold, dead database.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605156689 Betsy Worthington

    Welcome to Amerikkka …kiss those freedoms buhbye !!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1695451290 Gerald Langford

    Didn’t we have this same discussion back when the Bush was lamblasted for cell phone privatey rights. I guess it just depends on who is trying to enslave us. According to DOJ we are all right wing funactics and we need to be investigated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=605156689 Betsy Worthington

    @Mark Todd…don’t hold your breath …they ALL sit on their hands..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000040137651 Brenda Metz

    Then why can’t the congress look at Eric Holder’s records on Fast and Furious. Make those available FIRST

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000099353532 Tim Martin

    Yeah, .they couldn’t track Fast and Furious, . so instead of fixing their own issues, . they just want more invasion of privacy. This should not come as a shock considering who this yoyo works for!!!!. We need to get rid of all these fools that are trying to take our rights away!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=38505796 Shane Edmund Drozdowski

    *facepalm*

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=38505796 Shane Edmund Drozdowski

    Let’s start calling it like it is: the federal government is waging a war against we the people’s rights.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000575244768 Kevin Smith

    NOT!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000035047164 Gus Anderson

    The DOJ can go to Hell.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1217675548 Mitch Welter

    When we the people can video tape the cops without being hassled. Know how much they are getting paid, now how many tickets they need to write out to make their quota, and when the general public can investigate Police Brutality cases and throw the bums in jail besides taking away their jobs, then I would be alright with giving the Police more power in this POLICE STATE…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000288862472 Tom McCain

    My records are boring. Need to put the resources to better use.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000256534269 Thomas Burt Vanderslice

    Another attempt by WANNA BE DICTATOR OBAMA to bypass the laws of the USA. BS to DOJ. It only takes minutes to obtain a search warrant unless there is no justification for a warrant to be issued.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000267016806 De Dupree

    This admistration is filled with Czars that want to dictate to ‘We the People’ they are ‘Above the Law’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628132378 Kathi Jean Andrews

    NO!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000575244768 Kevin Smith

    some savy inventor will come out with a scrambler or a device that deletes your info immediately after the call or text.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001304075507 Raymond Lussier

    How about that criminal Eric Holder gives us access to Obama’s transcripts?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1079046734 Terry Riney

    Obummer is who we need to impeach. That would send a warning to rest of the communist.