Senators Question DOJ About Surveillance of Americans’ Location Data
March 26, 2019
A bipartisan group of Senators, including Senator Patrick Leahy, sent a series of questions last week to Attorney General William Barr about the government's surveillance of Americans' location data. The Senators specifically asked how the Supreme Court's decision in Carpenter v. United States has impacted government surveillance programs. In Carpenter, the Court ruled that the government could not collect cell phone location data without a warrant, even if that data was held by the phone company. The Senator's questions concern possible collection of location data by intelligence agencies as well as during criminal investigations. EPIC has sued the Department of Justice to obtain records of the number of surveillance applications for location data submitted by federal prosecutors in prior years. EPIC also filed a "friend of the court" brief in Carpenter, and urged the Court to extend Constitutional protection to cell phone data. EPIC also provides the public with access to and information about the federal wiretap reports, which provide important statistics about the use of other surveillance authorities. These reports have not yet been updated to address location data collection.