Vt. ACLU chapter files complaint over cell phone tracking

by

By Allen Gilbert, executive director, ACLU-Vermont

When you carry a cellphone with you, you’re constantly broadcasting your whereabouts. That’s OK when it’s your cellphone provider and you’re receiving a call. But it’s not OK when it’s law enforcement tracking you without a warrant.

Police use of cellphone tracking data has become of great concern nationally. Maybe you heard the story about it the other week from the “On The Media” show on National Public Radio.

The government is claiming that when you agree to have a cellphone, you’re agreeing to tracking.

We say police can get tracking data from providers only if they have probable cause and a warrant from a court.

We don’t know if Vermont law enforcement is getting tracking data from the cell providers operating in Vermont. So we asked the Attorney General’s Office, through a public records request, whether they are utilizing this tool.

The Attorney General’s Office told us any records that they might have are exempt from disclosure. We disagree, and filed suit to contest the denial.

The implications of government’s ability to track us through our cellphones is chilling. Maybe if we knew what’s happening when we turn on our cellphones, we’d turn them off.

Lawsuit documents:

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