Yes, the NSA can find you through your cellphone

Gen. Alexander admits that the spy agency tested pilot programs for U.S. phone location tracking


Natasha Lennard
October 2, 2013 11:02PM (UTC)

It's no secret that cellphones serve dual functions as communication and tracking devices: That's what GPS systems do as well as cellphone tower locations.

However, it's long been a staple of U.S. law, upholding Fourth Amendment protections, that in order to track an individual through a GPS system or connections to cellphone towers, law enforcement agencies need a warrant of probable cause. Yet, in the latest NSA revelation -- which of late seem to simply flesh out the established facts of a totalized surveillance state -- NSA director Keith Alexander admitted that the spy agency had tested cellphone location tracking programs in the U.S.

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With dystopian promise, Alexander told a Senate hearing on Wednesday that while location tracking was not among NSA programs currently used, it likely will be.

"I would just say that this may be something that is a future requirement for the country, but it is not right now, because when we identify a number, we can give that to the FBI," Alexander said. "When they get their probable cause [to justify obtaining the data] they can get the location data that they need."

Pilot programs tracking cellphone locations were tested from 2010 and 2011 and intended to explore the compatibility of the location data with the agency's preexisting vast databases.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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