New guidance has been issued with regards to the use of various forms of tracking technology.
According to new guidance that has been released by the United States Justice Department, if federal agencies want to use mobile phone tracking technology, they will now need to obtain search warrants in order to do so legally.
Until now, various agencies – including the FBI – did not require a warrant to use this tracking technology.
This made it possible for cell-site simulators to be used for mobile phone tracking within an area without having to receive any type of warrant. Authorities have stated that being able to implement this tech as a part of search efforts has been an important tool in being able to effectively fight crime. That said, it has created quite the outcry from civil liberties groups that have argued that the use of this tech could present serious concerns when it comes to possible invasions of privacy.
The new rules with regards to mobile phone tracking warrants have already gone into effect.
What they mean is that “when the equipment is used to locate a known cellular device, all data must be deleted as soon as that device is located, and no less than once daily.” Furthermore, the new guidance states that cell-site simulators are not allowed to be used for the collection of any communication throughout the length of a criminal investigation. Therefore, that mobile technology cannot be used for collecting emails, texts, contacts, images, lists, and other information that is stored on the mobile device. This, according to the Justice Department.
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has referred to the new regulations as a “positive first step”. Equally, the group also pointed out that it is important to understand that the regulations don’t apply to other federal agencies. Moreover, there are also many local and state police departments to which the rules don’t apply, despite the fact that they have “received federal funds to purchase these devices,” said ACLU staff attorney, Nathan Freed Wessler.
The ACLU has already said that it has found that 53 agencies operating across 21 states are owners of this type of mobile phone tracking technology.