Saturday, February 13, 2010

FBI May Be Tracking You Through Your Cell Phone

A case pending before the Federal Court of Appeals in Philadelphia is spotlighting the issue of how easy it is for the FBI to track our location through our cell phones.  The case involves an FBI agent who admitted that  he obtained cell phone records on 150 occasions to track the locations of federal fugitives.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU have filed a lawsuit claiming that this raises serious privacy concerns.  On Thursday the Court of Appeals in Philadelphia heard oral arguments on the matter.  People need to understand that cell phones have evolved into pocket-sized computers that allow cell phone operators to be able to pinpoint your location to as little as 150 feet to be able to connect you to the nearest cell phone tower.  In addition, the federal government has required that all cell phone operators provide E911 service that allows emergency response units to know where you are when 911 is called from your phone.  While the ability to find your location may help provide you with the best service and allow emergency personnel to locate you in case of an emergency, it opens to door to serious privacy concerns which need to be addressed by our courts.  Whenever you place a phone call from your cell phone, the location information is stored somewhere by your carrier and can be retrieved later on.  The current laws are outdated and this issue needs to be addressed by our government.

This also raises another issue that I would like to bring to the attention of our readers.  It involves expungement and how it relates to what the federal government knows and how it affects any potential questioning with the federal government.  If you are able to have your state criminal case expunged, there is no guarantee that your record has been expunged from the federal government's records.  A state court judge has no legal authority to order the FBI or Immigration and Naturalization to remove something from their records.  I received a phone call from a potential client this morning who informed me that he has applied for job with the federal government and wanted to know whether he should reveal an arrest for a local offense which was expunged many years ago.  I informed him that there's no way of knowing if the arrest is in some federal database and that the best policy is to answer their questions truthfully if this comes up.  We frequently run into the same issue with clients who have interviews with INS on immigration issues and the question is asked about a crime in which the client was able to have the matter expunged.  The best advice is to answer the question truthfully and assume that the federal government knows about the arrest even though it was expunged at the state level.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

No comments:

The Legal Defenders, PC

70 West Madison, Ste 1400 * Chicago * IL 60602 * Phone: (800) 228-7295 * Fax: (800) 604-0507