Disturbingly commonplace: Warrantless location tracking

Just how easily can your location information be accessed? That's the question posed by a new Newsweek article, which outlines the various methods local law-enforcement agencies and the Justice Department can use to trace Americans' cell phones--tracking that in some cases can be done in real time. According to the article, courts across the country routinely agree to police requests for cell phone location information, though the legality of such requests is somewhat cloudy. Further, there is anecdotal evidence of abuse of the system, with requests that are decidedly personal. And what if the Justice Department wants to track political protesters? That, apparently, may be allowed. Article. And, in a related action, CTIA's Senior Vice President and General Counsel Michael Altschul today testified on the topic before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet and Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection. "As technology continues to evolve, we would encourage Congress to clarify the terms under which location information may be released to law enforcement," he said. Release