If you’re have been reading our reports or watching them on Unitednetwork.tv, odds are you are already skeptical about the government and its ability to easily access your private data.
Here’s one more reason to be leery…. Last month, the federal district court judge approved a “Geofence” warrant, which gave authorities to search the cell phone history of every American who happened to be in the capital building area on January 6th. The “Geofence” in this context refers to cell phone location data collected by Google from users of its Android operating system, as well as iPhone users who use apps such as Google maps.
Location tracking can be turned off, but most users allow it for the convenience of getting directions, tracking their daily jog, or finding the nearest Chipotle. The government’s warrant demanded location history for every Google account holder within a range of longitude and latitude roughly corresponding to the capitol building on the afternoon of January 6th, along with similar data from that morning and evening.
Here’s the problem. The fourth amendment calls for every warrant to describe the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. It’s difficult to imagine how a Geofence warrant could ever fit the requirements of the fourth amendment. Traditionally, the government would identify a list of suspects and then ask the phone company for records specific to them.
Geofencing reverses the order of operations. Now the government demands the data of everyone, and only decides which of us is guilty or innocent after invading the privacy of both.