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Proposed Bill Asks for Warranted Cell Phone Tracking

Arizona lawmakers are deciding whether or not to enact rules on when police can use technology to track cell-phones.

The legislation, which would be the first of its kind in Arizona, would make it so state and local police are required to get a search warrant before using cell phone tracking devices.

For years the American Civil Liberties Union fought the city of Tucson to uncover how their cell-tracking devices work. The ACLU also wanted to know the devices’ capability to track not only the targeted suspect but one else in the same vicinity.

In the end, the Court of Appeals ruled that Arizona cities do not need to inform the public on how the cell-tracking technology works. The judges concluded that sharing such information could potentially help criminals evade the law.

The cell-tracking devices most police departments use act as “trick” cell-phone towers and get the phones to log in to them. Once a cell-phone logs in, it can be tracked by authorities.

However, since the devices act as cell-phone towers, they can trick other phones that have nothing to do with an investigation into logging in to the device.

Along with requiring police obtain a warrant, the legislation also would require police or prosecutors notify the person who own the phone being tracked within 10 days after the tracking ends.

The ACLU calls the legislation, “a step in the right direction to increase police transparency and protect Arizonan’s privacy.”


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