A recent announcement from the office of the director of national intelligence has confirmed that US intelligence agencies will no longer record Americans’ phone location data without probable cause.
The people’s right to privacy has been severely challenged in the US over the course of the last few decades, particularly since the invention of smartphones. With the phones constantly reporting their location in the world, it was rather simple for intelligence agencies to start recording this data for their own purposes.
Geolocation Data Collecting Will No Longer Be Allowed
However, this might change from now on, as the office of the director of national intelligence has confirmed that this will no longer be the case. From now on, the US intelligence agencies will only record phones’ locations if they first manage to obtain a warrant for it.
However, seen as his decision falls under a key section of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), which expires next month, the decision will only remain if Congress reauthorizes it. Many view this as the last attempt of surveillance agencies to avoid the confrontation with their overseers over how tight privacy laws regarding the surveillance of non-criminals will be.
As many might be aware, smartphone location data provides almost the exact location of the phone owner’s whereabouts at any given time. This is why the Supreme Court ruled last year that this data, known as CSLI data, violates phone owners’ right to privacy. The solution was to force intelligence agencies to obtain a warrant, which was only obtainable in cases where there was a probable cause of wrongdoing.
The ruling, known as Carpenter v. U.S., was a major issue for the intelligence agencies, which had to stop seeking out and collecting CSLI data and similar records from third-party providers. This decision dates back in June 2018.
However, even with the ruling, the Justice Department never managed to come to an agreement with the intelligence agencies whether Carpenter prevents them from collecting the phones’ geolocation data. With Carpenter closing in on its expiration date, the House committees will likely reauthorize the ruling, possibly also eliminating the USA FREEDOM Act’s permission to collect massive amounts of records regarding Americans’ call patterns along the way.
Additionally, the FREEDOM Act noticeably excludes phones’ geolocation and GPS data, which will likely be added during the reauthorization process. That way, Americans will no longer have to choose between security and liberty, as Congress will ensure both.
What do you think about the state of privacy and security in the US? Are you worried that intelligence agencies might track you through your phone? Let us know in the comments below.
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