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EFF Location Privacy Victory at Third Circuit Stands, With Implications Far Beyond Your Cell Phone

Dec 16, 2010, 05:04 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Kevin Bankston)

"In EFF's second major privacy victory in as many days, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals today denied the government's request that it reconsider its September decision regarding government access to cell phone company records that reveal your past locations. That means the court's original opinion — holding that federal magistrates have the discretion to require the government to get a search warrant based on probable cause before obtaining cell phone location records — is now the settled law of the Third Circuit, assuming the government doesn't seek review by the Supreme Court. Importantly, this victory won't just provide greater protection for the privacy of your cell phone records but for all other communications records that the government currently obtains without warrants.

"As we summarized when we filed our latest brief opposing the government's petition to the Third Circuit for a rehearing, this appellate case — awkwardly titled In the Matter of the Application of the USA for an Order Directing a Provider of Electronic Communication Service to Disclose Records to the Government — was sparked when the government appealed a lower court judge's denial of a government request for a court order to obtain cell phone location records without probable cause. In September, we won a great victory when the the three-judge panel reviewing the case agreed with EFF's arguments and held that federal law gives magistrates the discretion to require warrants for such data."

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