Somehow, this story slipped under the radar last week: The Obama administration is arguing before a federal appeals court that the government has the right to use a citizen’s cell phone signal to track his location, without a warrant.
[T]he Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in their — or at least their cell phones’ — whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that “a customer’s Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records” that show where a mobile device placed and received calls.
Those claims have alarmed the ACLU and other civil liberties groups, which have opposed the Justice Department’s request and plan to tell the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia that Americans’ privacy deserves more protection and judicial oversight than what the administration has proposed.
“This is a critical question for privacy in the 21st century,” says Kevin Bankston, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who will be arguing on Friday. “If the courts do side with the government, that means that everywhere we go, in the real world and online, will be an open book to the government unprotected by the Fourth Amendment.”
Have you noticed that whenever the government removes one of our freedoms, it does so in the name of our safety/security? Works like a charm.