In EPIC Settlement, DOJ Breaks Down Number of Location Data Requests in Five Districts from 2016-2019

April 5, 2022

EPIC has recently settled its lawsuit for cell phone surveillance orders issued by federal prosecutors with the Department of Justice. EPIC previously obtained the aggregate number of location data requests for five districts that the DOJ agreed to search. As part of the settlement agreement between EPIC and the DOJ, the agency provided a detailed breakdown of the total number of applications, orders, and warrants for cell phone location data under ยง 2703(d) from five U.S. Attorney’s Offices from 2016-2019. The five U.S. Attorney’s Offices include the District of Delaware, District of Rhode Island, District of the Virgin Islands, Eastern District of Oklahoma, an the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. EPIC updated its comparative table highlighting the number of location data requests for each district. Currently, prosecutors do not release any comprehensive or uniform data about their surveillance of cell phone location data. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Carpenter v. United States that the collection of cell phone location data without a warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Through EPIC’s lawsuit, the DOJ’s search revealed that both the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Rhode Island, two of the smallest offices in the country, sought warrants for cell phone location data. It is unclear whether these districts sought warrants before or after the Carpenter decision. The case is EPIC v. DOJ, No. 18-1814 (D.D.C.).

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