Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the Department of Homeland Security’s Policy Regarding the Use Of Cell-Site Simulators

[The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued new guidelines governing the use of cell-site simulators.  The announcement comes weeks after Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), joined by Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), pressed DHS to safeguard Americans’ privacy when it comes to the use of these devices, which can sweep up the cell phone signals of unknowing and innocent Americans.]

“The Department of Homeland Security’s new policy on cell-site simulators is a positive first step in responding to the very serious privacy implications posed by cell phone tracking technology, but it raises additional questions that must be answered.  Chairman Grassley and I called on DHS to establish a default warrant requirement, and to apply that rule to all agencies within the Department.  I am disappointed that DHS has included the same problematic exception to the warrant requirement that is in the Justice Department’s policy.  Additionally, this policy is limited to criminal investigations, and it is not clear what rules will apply to any use of cell-site simulators for other DHS missions.  We must ensure stronger protections for the privacy rights of innocent Americans who are not the targets of an investigation.”  

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