ALCU to Join Wyden and Kirk in Fight Against Mobile Tracking

The ACLU will join Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) next week to call for legislation to prevent the government from tracking mobile phone users via those phones without a warrant.

The Oct. 18 announcement coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows that tracking. ACLU pointed out in a statement Friday that the bill was written when "cell phones were the size of bricks and the World Wide Web did not exist."

ACLU said there would be a tech fair -- though actually a retro version -- showcasing those brick-sized phones and computers of the era.

The Justice Department has actually been pushing for more freedom to track criminals on the move.

After Wyden teamed with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to introduce bills that would require the government to get a warrant before obtaining geolocation data from telecommunications companies and prevent geolocation service providers from sharing that info with third parties without their consent, Justice raised some red flags, arguing that law enforcement needs greater access to that data in order to track down criminals. Deputy Attorney General Jason Weinstein of the Justice Department's criminal division pointed out that while there were no restrictions on sharing online data with commercial third parties, there were plenty on sharing with the government.

Groups backing the effort include Americans for Tax Reform, Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Constitution Project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and TechFreedom.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.