Target: Ms. Susan Illston, United States District Judge
Goal: Applaud ruling that requires police to have a warrant before taking cellular location data.
Police must now have a warrant to obtain cellular position data from phones in California thanks to a recent ruling. This is a huge win for privacy and guarantees that people’s locations will remain private until a judge decides that there is a reasonable cause to acquire them. These new regulations will help protect people from warrantless surveillance going forward and hopefully ensure that police do not abuse their power. For these reasons, the judge and all who helped to ensure this victory deserve our commendation.
Cellphones are ever-present for most of us and many of them track our whereabouts every minute of every day. There is nothing sinister in this tracking–it is simply a feature that newer GPS-enabled phones offer. However, that data, when put into the wrong hands, can do immense damage to a person’s character and therefore should be safe from prying eyes. The judge that offered her opinion in this decisions cited the fact that location data may reveal more about a person than they would otherwise feel comfortable with and may provide information about places where they have constitutional protections, such as their homes.
It may be acceptable to use this data when there is probable cause and a warrant is granted, but there is no reason for police to have access to everyone’s whereabouts at any time. Personal locations should be considered an issue of privacy and using cellular location data without a warrant is nothing short of warrantless surveillance. This ruling is a huge blow to the tracking, wire-tapping, and spying system that has recently arisen and will protect the constitutional right to privacy of all citizens of California. Please sign here to thank the judge for making the right decision and encourage others states to take up the banner of privacy.
Dear Justice Illston,
I am writing to thank you for your recent ruling that requires police to have a warrant in order to use a person’s cellular location data. This location data is an issue of privacy and to access it without probable cause and a warrant is most certainly unconstitutional. As you well know, location data can do immense damage to a person’s character and the data may tell more about them than they would otherwise feel comfortable sharing.
There has been a large push by law enforcement and governmental agencies to increase their surveillance of the population in recent years and I thank you once more for trying to level the playing field for average people. Privacy is a right in this country and what people do should not be available for prying eyes at all times. Please continue to rule in favor of personal privacy over institutional surveillance in the future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Paweł Zdziarski via Wikimedia Commons