Law Enforcement’s Use of Drones Raises Privacy Questions

Law enforcement’s use of GPS tracking technology in drones gives rise to many questions regarding issues such as regulation, privacy and usefulness. A Medina County, Ohio sheriff’s office has two such unmanned aerial systems and is exploring answers to these questions. The state of Ohio itself will probably propose legislation this year to address issues on both sides.   Unmanned Aerial Systems Drones cost about $25,000, have a camera and are infrared- and GPS-equipped. Weighing about 2 pounds, drones must have permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to be flown (though FAA restrictions have not been finalized). The Medina CountyRead More

7 Tips You Should Know About Geolocation Privacy


When it comes to your privacy rights in terms of GPS location information gathered by your smartphone, tablet, or digital camera with built-in GPS, what do you really know? You probably don’t realize that protection of your privacy is virtually nonexistent. Not to worry, as numerous legislators, the FCC, and certain consumer rights groups are working towards guidelines as to how app developers, law enforcement, marketers, and other third parties can use the GPS data gathered by the devices.   Catherine Crump, ACLU attorney, said, “Collecting personal data is increasingly easy for the government to do but hard for citizensRead More

ACLU Sues FBI For GPS Tracking Memos

GPS Supreme Court

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been on the front lines of the warrantless GPS tracking debate from day one. Now, almost a year after the Supreme Court ruled that tracking suspects with a GPS device is considered a search under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the ACLU is suing the FBI over documents regarding the ruling. At that time, the FBI had an estimated 3,000 GPS tracking devices on the field, with and without warrants. When the Supreme Court’s ruling was announced, the FBI sent out two memos to agents, instructing them to turn off allRead More

ACLU Investigates Mobile Phone Tracking


Do you own a smartphone? If so, you’ve joined the majority of all mobile phone users in the US. Approximately 74% of these smartphone owners rely on location-based information, such as local restaurants, directions, and more, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project poll. Some feel this is something to be concerned about, as it poses a bit of a privacy risk. However, it isn’t the average person using your GPS location you should be concerned about. Rather, you should be more worried your local police department can access this data.   The ACLU questioned 383 police departmentsRead More

U.S. Senator Inquiring Into Department of Justice’s GPS Tracking Procedures

GPS Supreme Court

Senator Al Franken, a Democrat representing Minnesota, recently inquired into the GPS tracking policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. The letter was made public, and expresses concerns about how January’s Supreme Court decision making warrantless GPS tracking illegal, had affected their policies when requesting GPS data from wireless carriers.   “I am writing to ask you about the Department of Justice’s own practices in requesting location information from wireless carriers,” wrote Franken. “I am eager to learn about how frequently the Department requests location information and what legal standard the Department believes it must meet to obtain it. IRead More

Vermont ACLU Fights Warrantless GPS Tracking

After the Vermont ACLU unsuccessfully attempted to obtain information pertaining to whether or not law enforcement was tracking citizens using the GPS on their cell phones, Rep. Peter Welch announced he would fight to pass a bill laying out ground rules for this practice. The Geolocation, Privacy and Security Act will cover not only law enforcement, but private companies as well.  The act will keep companies from taking information from citizens without their knowledge, making consent mandatory.  It will also force authorities to obtain a warrant before they can begin tracking anyone using a GPS device.  This bill is veryRead More

Tracking Schoolchildren with RFID Technology

In a day and age when parents fear for their children’s safety, one school district has decided to use modern technology to put those fears to rest. Officials state that efficiency is the main reason for the program, but it is hard to imagine that parental concern did not factor into the equation. Earlier this month, the Middletown school district in Providence, Rhode Island enacted a pilot program that included putting RFID (radio frequency identification) chips in tags that will be attached to children’s schoolbags. This initial trial run will include about 80 children (and their backpacks). The primary reasonRead More