New technologies – like cell phones, smart phones, laptops and navigation devices – are making it increasingly easy to track and log the location of individual Americans, yet federal laws have not kept pace with the technology.
The lack of legal clarity surrounding the use of electronically-obtained location data, also known as geolocation information, means that there are no clear rules for how this data can be used, accessed or sold by law enforcement, commercial entities or private citizens. As a result, prosecutors are often unsure when judges will allow geolocation information to be admitted as evidence.
Telecommunications companies are often unsure when or if they are allowed to share their customer’s geolocation data with law enforcement. Customers are often unsure when or if their providers are sharing their geolocation data with law enforcement or selling it to other private companies. It is even unclear if law enforcement has the tools to arrest a stalker caught using technology to follow another person or obtain that person’s geolocation information.
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