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Federal Officials Obtaining Cell Phone Data To Track People
The Washington Post reports federal officials are routinely asking courts to order cellphone companies to furnish real-time tracking data to help the government monitor the whereabouts of some cell phone users. In some cases, judges have granted the requests without requiring the government to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe that a crime is taking place or that the inquiry will yield evidence of a crime. It is not known how many times the government has sought the ability to track cell phone users because the requests and orders are sealed. Kevin Bankston of the privacy advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation said: “Most people don’t realize it, but they’re carrying a tracking device in their pocket. Cellphones can reveal very precise information about your location, and yet legal protections are very much up in the air.” Experts say the phone data provided by the cell phone companies can help the government home in on a target to within about 30 feet.