By Chad Bray, The Wall Street Journal
The American Civil Liberties Union will be in federal court Tuesday
as it seeks to force the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal
agencies to detail how often they use surveillance tools that capture
the email addresses contacted, phone numbers called and websites visited
by a person.
Such tools are known as pen register and trace-and-track technology,
and while the government believes they’re critical for law enforcement,
privacy advocates are concerned about the lack of transparency on how
often the searches are used.
Paul M. Schwartz, a law professor and director of the Berkeley Center
for Law and Technology, said the use of pen registers and
trap-and-trace technology is likely up because the public is spending
more time on smartphones and the Internet. It’s not like the old days
when an individual had a phone at their office and home, not on their
persons at all times, he said.The data available to agencies is much
broader than when investigators tracked phone calls to and from a single
line, he said. “It’s not surprising they’re going to make use of it,”
“We’re online more. We’re engaged in telecommunication many, many more hours a day,” he said.