Justin Elliot has more on the issue of how easy it is — or isn’t — for law enforcement to obtain your GPS data. The issue grabbed a lot of attention last week after graduate student Chris Soghoian published some information suggesting that Sprint had gotten 8 million requests last year for customer data. Sprint later responded that 8 million did not refer to unique customers or accounts, but to pings.
Depending on the circumstances, police would generally need to meet one of three tiers of standards to get a court order to access to GPS data from a phone company, Orin Kerr, a professor at George Washington University Law School, tells TPMmuckraker: a certification to the court that the location information is relevant to an investigation (a court must grant this request); showing the court with “specific and articulable facts” — say, that a suspect is involved in drug smuggling — that the data is relevant; or, finally, showing good old probable cause to obtain a search warrant.
“Under a legal standard like this one, people who will never do anything wrong — who have simply caught the interest of law enforcement — will have their GPS info pulled,” says Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel at the ACLU. Adds Calabrese: “GPS data should clearly be protected by the Fourth Amendment warrant standard, but right now it’s not.”
Read more on TPMMuckraker.