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Court Case Could Change Laws Governing Privacy

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by KYW’s John Ostapkovich

As we mark Independence Day, a decision is awaited from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on a collision of liberty, technology and police powers.

Police scored a big win last weekend when they used a murder suspect’s cell phone signal to track him down. Mary Catherine Roper, staff attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, says that’s a legitimate use of the technology but the case before the Third Circuit involves whether police even need a warrant.

Roper votes yes:

“Tracking a particular person, particularly by use of their personal cell phone or their personal information, that is a really intrusive power to give the police and it should be restricted to situations where there’s a verifiable reason to be tracking someone, so that it can’t be abused.”

Currently, some forms of tracking can locate to within 50 meters, but Roper says the issue is liberty, not accuracy.