Obama Wants Access to Your Cellphone Records
(Reuters) - The U.S. Congress should pass a law to give investigators freer access to certain cellphone records, an Obama administration official said on Thursday, in remarks that raised concern among advocates of civil liberties and privacy.
Jason Weinstein, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's criminal division, argued that requirements for warrants at early stages of investigations would "cripple" prosecutors and law enforcement.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this year that a warrant was needed to put a GPS satellite tracking device on a suspect's vehicle, prompting questions about other instances where probable-cause warrants should be needed to obtain information in the rapidly changing world of mobile devices.
"There really is no fairness and no justice when the law applies differently to different people depending on which courthouse you're sitting in," he said at the "State of the Mobile Net" conference sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee.
"For that reason alone, we think Congress should clarify the legal standard," he said.
One civil liberties advocate sought to challenge that assertion, saying the Obama administration had made the same argument during the Supreme Court GPS case and it had been soundly rejected.
"Not one justice accepted the Department of Justice's argument in that case. It got zero votes," Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said during the conference. "We're all here, the criminals are not taking over the country."
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