Court: Feds Can Track Your Location Without a Warrant

But in another case, government says it must admit NSA spying to defendants

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 31, 2013 7:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – The federal government can grab GPS data indicating where you've been directly from your phone carrier without a warrant, the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday, saying that the practice was "not per se unconstitutional." Technically, that data is a "business record," meaning it's not protected by the Fourth Amendment, the judges said in a 2-1 decision, according to the New York Times. "This decision is a big deal," an ACLU lawyer said, "and a big blow to Americans' privacy rights."

But hey, privacy fans, it's not all bad news. The Justice Department also made a major concession yesterday by agreeing that it must tell defendants when it has used mass surveillance techniques, like the ones revealed by Edward Snowden, to build its case against them, the Wall Street Journal reports. Until now, everyone who's tried to challenge the surveillance programs has run into dead ends in court because they couldn't prove they were subjected to them. Now, at least one group of people—namely, terrorism defendants—will be able to.

Satellite images are seen on a phone in this file photo.
Satellite images are seen on a phone in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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