Big Brother May Be Tracking Your Cell Phone

Judges are turning over tracking data from phones without probable cause
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2007 6:04 AM CST
Senior sales consultant Nick Snorgrass uses a touch screen to look at products offered at an Embarq retail store in Gardner, Kan. Thursday, May 17, 2007. Federal judges have been ordering cell phones...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Federal investigators pursuing drug traffickers, fugitives and other criminal suspects often get court orders to obtain tracking data from cell phones, and they're frequently granted the orders without showing probable cause. That worries privacy advocates, especially in light of the fact that new cell phone services are providing an unprecedented amount of data, including the precise location of the user, reports the Washington Post.

In a 2005 opinion a federal judge warned that allowing "surreptitious conversion" of a cellphone into a tracking device without probable cause raises serious constitutional concerns, "especially when the phone is in a house or other place where privacy is reasonably expected."