Samuelson Clinic Survey Finds Strong Support for Privacy of Location Data

Type: Report
Year: 2008

While law enforcement increasingly locates individuals by gaining access to wireless phone records, new survey data commissioned by the Samuelson Clinic finds that 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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