Courts knock down government cellphone tracking

Justice Dept. has used "bogus legal theory to get secret authorizations for tracking ... probably for many years," says court.

The Justice Dept. cannot track a cellphone without a search warrant based on probable cause, two courts have recently ruled, according to an alert from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In two cellphone tracking cases in New York and Texas, judges ruled against the Justice Dept., saying the government has used "bogus legal theory to get secret authorizations for cell phone tracking from a number of courts, probably for many years." Says EFF:

"We need more judges who are brave enough to publish decisions that reveal and condemn the Justice Department's apparently routine misrepresentation of the law in secret court proceedings. That way, we may learn the answers to some key questions: what other unwarranted surveillance powers have the government's lawyers fabricated out of whole cloth and passed off on the courts in secret proceedings?" 

Given that the administration sees judicial oversight of surveillance, even of US citizens, as an incursion into proper executive power, what are the odds that the president will (has?) simply issue an executive order allowing cellphone tracking without a warrant? Isn't

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