ACLU Pries Tracking Info From Government

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The Department of Justice will disclose more than 200 documents to settle part of an FOIA complaint seeking policies and procedures for use of location-tracking technology in Northern California.
     The Department of Justice agreed to process documents related to the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act request for all “requests, subpoenas, and applications for court orders or warrants seeking location information” since 2008.
     The ACLU of Northern California submitted an FOIA request in early 2012 requesting information on the federal government’s use of location-tracking technology to monitor and surveil suspects.
     Among other things, the ACLU sought information on “the use or policies of utilizing any location-tracking technology, including but not limited to cellsite simulators or digital analyzers such as devices known as Stingray, Triggerfish, AmberJack, KingFish or Loggerhead.”
     U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James ordered the Department of Justice to release many of the requested documents in September 2014, including a record from the Executive Office for the United States Attorneys that contains 16 pages of templates used by prosecutors for use of a pen register and trap and trace device.
     James also ordered release of portions of the USA Book, a legal resource book and reference guide for federal prosecutors that includes a section titled “Electronic Surveillance Non-Wiretap,” which discusses tracking devices and cellular telephone location.
     The Justice Department, which argued that revealing the information would allow “would-be wrongdoers” to evade detection, appealed to the Ninth Circuit.
     James also ordered the government to review 348 cases that could have documents responsive to the ACLU’s request for subpoenas and applications for court orders seeking location information since Jan. 1, 2008.
     Under the Aug. 21 settlement, the Justice Department will not have to process 91 matters or cases that involve open investigations.
     Of the remaining 257 matters for review, the Justice Department declared that 29 did not involve requests or location-tracking information, 15 were missing, 10 had missing documents, and four had already been disclosed to the ACLU.
     Some of the matters had multiple applications of orders that were separately counted, leaving 211 applications for the government to process as part of the parties’ agreement.

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