You probably did not know this, but you have no reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to the government knowing your location when you use a cell phone - no messy Bill of Rights 4th Amendment warrents are necessary. At least that is what the Federal government is arguing in court.
This may be more incideous that one would first imagine. How do you feel about attending a protest against a Republican administration, where the government can record that you attended the protest, when you arrived, when you left and where did you go after the event. With today's cheap computing, it is not difficult to track which protests or meetings you attend and of course where you live and work. Tracking which other people go to the same events that you go to, is a well established technology to gain insight into which other people you associate with.
In a criminal case the Federal government is arguing that they have the power to track people without a warrent.
In that case, the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in their--or at least their cell phones'--whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that "a customer's Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records" that show where a mobile device placed and received calls.
While the article refers to the government as the Obama adinistration, to my knowledge President Obama has not spoken on this issue. The press needs to follow up with the Justice Deprtment and the White House to get them on the record as supporting or opposing this policy.
Even though police are tapping into the locations of mobile phones thousands of times a year, the legal ground rules remain unclear, and federal privacy laws written a generation ago are ambiguous at best. On Friday, the first federal appeals court to consider the topic will hear oral arguments (PDF) in a case that could establish new standards for locating wireless devices.
While some see this as the issue of telecom corporations needing to stand-up for our civil rights, I see not giving the Federal, State and local governemnt the power in the first place as the better approach.
Many here in this community would make a big issue of this if were being done by the Bush administration. We need to equally oppose this even in the Obama administration that we strongly support.
Remember even if one believes the Obama administration would not use these powers against people like us - and may even use this power against the worst of the Tea Party activists, it is just a matter of time for the administration to change to a party that we don't trust.