Quoted: on cops and cell-phone tracking bill

“These reporting mandates would unduly burden wireless providers and their employees — who are working day and night to assist law enforcement to ensure the public’s safety and to save lives.”

— The Wireless Association, also known as CTIA, a trade group representing Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and others, in a letter (PDF) to California Sen. Mark Leno, D-S.F. Leno has proposed a bill that would require law enforcement to get a warrant to use cell-phone location data to track a suspect. The California Location Privacy Bill (SB 1434), which will be heard in a state Senate committee Tuesday, also would require wireless providers to disclose the number of times they turn over location data to law enforcement. The Wireless Association opposes both the warrant requirement (“confusing” and may “hamper  response”) and the reporting mandates it mentions in the quote above. Reaction from the ACLU of Northern California, a co-sponsor of the bill: “Wireless companies should be working day and night for us — their customers — not for law enforcement.” Earlier this month, documents obtained by the ACLU found that police departments throughout the United States are increasingly engaging in warrantless tracking via cell phones, and paying wireless companies in order to do so.  (See Watching Big Brother: The cops and cell phones in the U.S.Wired points out that California Gov. Jerry Brown last year vetoed a measure that would’ve required police to obtain warrants to search suspects’ cell phones at the time of their arrest.


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