(KCPW News) Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder says an open-records request to find out if law enforcement agencies are getting warrants for cell-phone location data is excessive. The ACLU of Utah filed the request as part of a nationwide effort among 33 other affiliates. Winder says he would understand if the organization were following up on individual cases, but the scale of the request serves no purpose but to burden law enforcement agencies and occupy staff time.
“It seems to me like kind of a fishing expedition that is unnecessary, when they can simply come and sit down with us and ask us about our procedures,” he says. “I don’t understand it and I wish they would again divert from the litigious and the GRAMA-related requests and simply communicate with law enforcement.”
Winder adds that Salt Lake County has nothing to worry about, because it has to justify access to cell phone data, and there are a number of protections to ensure that data isn’t grabbed inappropriately. But ACLU of Utah Executive Director Karen McCreary says the organization wants to strip away the secrecy.
“Technology continues to develop and as it develops we want make sure our privacy rights aren’t left behind,” says McCreary. “And while we’ve been aware and everyone knows that law enforcement has been using cell phone location data for the last several years, recently it’s become increasingly controversial.”
McCreary says the request isn’t an accusation; the ACLU just wants make sure the public knows their privacy rights are being protected.
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