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7:38 pm
Wed August 3, 2011

RI ACLU wants to know if police track people through cellphones

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed an open records request with two of the largest police departments in the state seeking information about how it tracks residents through their cellphones. It's part of a larger push to understand the scope of cellphone data tracking in law enforcement.

The Rhode Island Chapter of the ACLU joined 33 chapters across the country to request more information on how law enforcement is tracking people through their cellphones. Steve Brown, Executive Director of the Rhode Island ACLU, has filed open records requests with the Rhode Island State Police and Providence Police Department.

"We're very interested in finding out just how significant the problem is here and based on that to determine whether there are steps to be taken to rein it in," says Brown.

Brown says he wants to know how law enforcement demonstrates probable cause, how often they receive cellphone location data, and how much it costs to track cellphone users.

Law enforcement say cellphone tracking is an effective tool.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on whether police need a warrant to track a person's GPS. A decision from the high court in that case is expected to have implications for tracking cellphones.

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