November 14, 2019

In Letter to Wyden, ODNI Reveals the Government Has Stopped Collecting Phone Location and GPS Data Under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act

ODNI Won’t Admit that Warrantless Location Tracking Under FISA Is Unconstitutional; To Protect Americans’ Rights, Congress Should Permanently Ban Warrantless Location Tracking, Wyden Says

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today called on Congress to ban warrantless tracking of Americans’ locations, following a new letter from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) today revealing that the government has stopped collecting phone location and GPS data under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.

In the letter, which Wyden released today, ODNI says it stopped warrantless location-tracking last year, after the Supreme Court ruled that the government must obtain a warrant to obtain most historical location information.

“The Intelligence Community has now publicly revealed that, since the Supreme Court decision more than a year ago, it hasn’t used Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to track Americans,” Wyden said. “At the same time, the government is hedging its bets by not formally acknowledging that the Supreme Court case applies to intelligence surveillance. The Supreme Court has confirmed that tracking our movements without a warrant is unconstitutional. Now that Congress is considering reauthorizing Section 215, it needs to write a prohibition on warrantless geolocation collection into black-letter law. As the past year has shown, Americans don’t need to choose between liberty and security – Congress should reform Section 215 to ensure we have both.”

Read the full letter from the ODNI to Wyden here. Wyden’s original letter to then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats is here.