By Alan Chestnutt
Although there are many advantages to cell phone GPS tracking, there are also privacy concerns. As most people carry their cell phone with them at all times, the ability is in place to track the exact movements of all individuals. Is this a case of Big Brother, and who can access to this information?
Cell Phone GPS tracking can prove useful in many walks of life and especially when an emergency arises. Picture the scene of a road accident where injuries have occurred. A 911 call made from a GPS cell phone would significantly speed up the arrival of the emergency services if the GPS signal from the cell phone can be pin-pointed to an exact location. This feature alone could save many lives.
For these reasons the FCC has instructed that wireless network providers provide the cell phone GPS tracking location information for 911 calls which have been made from cell phones. This is known as E911. In essence this is no different than a 911 call made from a land line, as the land line is registered to an address and the relevant emergency services can be quickly dispatched to that address.
However, where the difference occurs is that a property does not move but the tracking of a GPS cell phone is registering the day to day movements of an individual, and that has given rise to the privacy concerns of who can access such private information.
However, the relevant law relating to E911 is fairly explicit. It allows carriers to provide tracking location information to third parties for e911 emergency calls only, however not under any other circumstances whatsoever without the consent of the cell phone owner.
The privacy of cell phone GPS tracking has also been backed up by a number of recent court hearings. Recent court hearings have disallowed the requests of law enforcement agencies to obtain cell phone GPS tracking information from the cell phone companies for suspects. The courts have ruled that Congress have not authorized location tracking without actual evidence of wrongdoing and that probable cause is not sufficient reason for the release of records.
These events will ensure that the advantages of cell phone GPS tracking will not be compromised by privacy issues and that its long term future and usefulness is secured.