A proposed law in the state of California would require that law enforcement officials obtain a search warrant before they are able to track a suspect's location via their cellphone signal.
However, the nation's largest wireless carriers have come out in opposition to the proposed bill, according to a report from CNET
. Many consumer advocates have noted that this practice creates serious privacy concerns for Americans, but law enforcement officials and the Obama administration has defended the practice.
For their part, the wireless service providers say that such a law would cause their companies unnecessary confusion when it comes to responding to legitimate requests from law enforcement officials, the report said. A letter written by CTIA - The Wireless Association (a trade group comprised of major cellphone carriers like AT&T, Verizon Wireless, U.S. Cellular, Sprint Nextel and more) to the bill's sponsor also notes that the legislation would "unduly burden" the carriers and their employees.
However, critics note that opposition of this bill likely isn't even in the companies' best interests, the report said.
"Wireless companies should be working day and night for us, their customers, not law enforcement," Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director at the ACLU of Northern California, told the tech news site. "This bill is good for consumers and it's good for business. [CTIA] shouldn't be opposing this bill. They shouldn't be opposing the warrant requirement. And they shouldn't be opposing the basic reporting requirements to make sure the law is being followed."
Some note the issue for companies isn't the burden, but rather that the bill requires them to disclose when they comply with these tracking requests from law enforcement officials, and that they are loath to do so, the report said. The companies already keep track of many of these efforts - which they claim would be additionally burdensome - because they are, in the end, paid to do it. For its part, though, AT&T, which is one of CTIA's largest members, supports tracking and location disclosure only when search warrants are filed.Eduard Goodman
, chief privacy officer for Identity Theft
911, has a blog about the concerns consumers may face as a result of this type of location tracking by cellphone service providers.
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