Computing Profession

CFP: Experts Discuss Location Data and the State of the Laws Protecting IT

The Computer, Freedom & Privacy Conference logo
The logo of the Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference.

The ACLU discussed a massive coordinated records request that proves law enforcement across the country are using very different standards to access location information. While a few cities and towns required a probable cause warrant for access, most do not, and many have no protections at all.

The Chief Privacy Officer at Neustar, J. Beckwith ("Becky") Burr, agreed and said the lack of clear standards create a lot of frustration and difficulty for business providers.  She explained it is really difficult for them to know if they are doing the right thing at any given time considering the variety of standards used. She said it is particularly difficult for small offices without the legal means.

Chris Soghoian, principal technologist and a senior policy analyst with the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, discussed the issues with data retention and how it contributes to mass surveillance of location data. He argued that governments could not engage in such wholesale surveillance without the assistance of the companies gathering the data. He hopes the revealing of PRISM, and the weeks of negative press associated with it, will encourage companies to push back the next time the government asks for such sensitive information.

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