A Supermajority of Californians Supports Limits on Law Enforcement Access to Cell Phone Location Information

Jennifer King, Chris Jay Hoofnagle


While law enforcement increasingly locates individuals by gaining access to wireless phone records, a supermajority of Californians supports judicial intervention and informing suspects before law enforcement acquires retrospective (historical) location data on individuals from wireless phone companies. A majority of Californians understands that wireless phones can track their location, and that there is broad support for location tracking in emergency situations. When compared with Professor Alan Westin's three privacy segments, "Fundamentalists," "Pragmatists," and the "Unconcerned," Californians are more likely to be privacy pragmatists or fundamentalists, and less likely to be unconcerned about privacy. Generally, Westin's segmentation was not predictive of Californians' attitudes towards law enforcement access to wireless location data.


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