A Judge With Common Sense Says Cellphone Tracking Is as Intrusive as a GPS Tracker

Illustration for article titled A Judge With Common Sense Says Cellphone Tracking Is as Intrusive as a GPS Tracker

A NY state judge has said that looking up a person's movements via cell phone location data is just as intrusive as GPS tracking. Bless him.


Here's a fantastically verbose quote from the ruling of Judge Orenstein of the Eastern District of New York , who seems to be a remarkable example of some who knows what's going on in the modern world:

"The decision in Maynard is just one of several rulings in recent years reflecting a growing recognition, at least in some courts, that technology has progressed to the point where a person who wishes to partake in the social, cultural, and political affairs of our society has no realistic choice but to expose to others, if not to the public as a whole, a broad range of conduct and communications that would previously have been deemed unquestionably private"

In United v. Maynard, the previous case Orenstein refers to, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the government must obtain a warrant to track a person's movements via GPS tracking device. What Orenstein says is that the same rationale applies to re-creating a person's movements using historical cellphone location data—that it's just as intrusive to Americans' reasonable expectation of privacy. In the ruling, Orenstein and the court denied the government's request to access two months of historical cellphone location data without a warrant from mobile network Sprint.

A relieving contrast to a much different ruling last week, by the West's Ninth District Court of Appeals that ruled tracking by GPS is fine and not a privacy violation at all. Crazy.[Ruling via ACLU and Boing Boing]


I disagree i have no problem with governments and organizations having location data as long as that data remains 100% anonymous. Think of how useful that anonymous (key word here) data could be to a government, knowing which roads are most heavily traveled and at what times.