US intelligence no longer tracks the location of our smartphones without a warrant

US intelligence no longer tracks the location of our smartphones without a warrant

… hopes that this will change in the future and will pursue this through official legal avenues. Until recently, US intelligence agencies have been able to collect location data on residents using third-party companies, i.e. mobile network operators, because they are allowed to do so by Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Everything changed last year, however, when in Carpenter v. U.S. the Supreme Court ruled that this is a serious invasion of privacy and the services must seek appropriate injunctions.

Here, however, they already have to provide concrete evidence, and previously they were able to use the data quite freely – but as the assistant director of national intelligence, Benjamin T. Fallon: – Since the Carpenter ruling came down, U.S. intelligence has not seen any CSLI data or satellite navigation system records without a warrant. Interestingly, though, as we can learn from a letter written to Senator Ron Wyden by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the provisions of Section 215 of the Patriot Act expire as early as December, so there’s a chance to review it a bit.

It’s another part of the tussle between intelligence agencies and lawmakers, who can’t agree on where to put the limits on non-criminal surveillance of citizens. Currently, tracking the location of a specific target is only possible for a specific reason, but as Fallon assures us, the Justice Department and intelligence agencies have not reached a legal conclusion on the matter. Moreover, at the same time, the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015, under which the services could collect phone records, creating certain patterns of behavior of their citizens, also expires.

According to Ron Wyden: -Now that Congress plans to reauthorize Section 215, it needs to put a ban on warrantless geolocation in there. As the past year has shown, Americans don’t have to choose between freedom and security – Congress should reform the provisions to make sure we have both. Will that actually happen? It’s hard to say, but there’s no denying that after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Americans chose to give up much of their freedom in exchange for promises of security, and the services are still happy to take advantage of that today.

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