Obama Admin. Arguing It’s Legal To Track Citizens’ Every Movement Without A Warrant

The Obama administration told federal judges in New Orleans yesterday that warrantless tracking of the location of Americans’ mobile devices is perfectly legal.

Federal prosecutors are planning to argue that they should be able to obtain stored records revealing the minute-by-minute movements of mobile users over a 60-day period — in this case, T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers — without having to ask a judge to approve a warrant first.

The case highlights how valuable location data is for police, especially when it’s tied to devices that millions of people carry with them almost all the time. Records kept by wireless carriers can hint at or reveal medical treatments, political associations, religious convictions, and even whether someone is cheating on his or her spouse.

“It’s at a point now where the public awareness about this specific issue is growing,” says Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who will be arguing the pro-privacy side before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals this morning.

Today’s oral arguments are remarkably timely: on Sunday, California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, vetoed (PDF) a bill that would have required law enforcement to obtain location warrants. And last week, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat representing Silicon Valley, introduced pro-warrant federal legislation.

Read more from this story HERE.