Intelligence Agencies Halt Collection of Cell Location Data Without ‘Probable Cause’

The Director of National Intelligence has notified Congress that U.S. intelligence agencies are no longer obtaining cell site location data without “a showing of probable cause.” The change is a direct result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Carpenter v. United States, which held the Fourth Amendment protects location records generated by mobile phones. The Director wrote that “given the significant constitutional and statutory issues the decision raises,” the intelligence community has “not sought CSLI records or global positioning system (GPS) records” without probable cause “since Carpenter was decided.” EPIC filed an amicus brief in Carpenter, joined by 36 technical experts and legal scholars (members of the EPIC Advisory Board), urging the Court to extend Constitutional protection to cell phone data. Last year, EPIC’s Marc Rotenberg wrote that "Congress now has an opportunity to update federal privacy law, providing greater clarity for digital searches after the Carpenter decision.”


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