However, the court's decision pertained only to the issue of warrantless GPS tracking. It did not address the crucial and much broader issue of whether similar tracking using cellphone data and other geo-tracking devices requires a warrant.
That lack of guidance leaves the door open for all sorts of warrantless cellphone tracking by the government and all sorts of interpretation of those actions by the courts, privacy advocates say.
Internet and mobile privacy: Or the continuing lack thereof
For several years, consumer rights groups and others have been calling on Congress to create regulations governing how Internet companies, online advertisers, mobile service providers and mobile application providers can collect and use consumer data.
Despite some movement in attracting the attention of legislators, 2012 is set to close without any major changes to online consumer privacy rules.
The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights , released by the Obama Administration in February, sought to encourage the creation of new industry standards for collecting, sharing, storing and using private data on the Internet and mobile networks.
The administration said at the time that the document is part of an effort to require that companies limit the collection of personal data, protect any sensitive data collected, and give consumers the right to access and to correct mistakes in personal data collected by Internet service providers, carriers and mobile application companies.
While many consumer rights groups and privacy advocates have praised the Administration's intent, they have expressed disappointment at the continued focus on industry self-regulation.
Many of them fear that the "multi-stakeholder process" outlined in Obama's Consumer Bill of Rights will be hijacked by deep-pocketed Internet companies with little real concern for consumer privacy. The consumer advocacy groups continue to maintain that meaningful privacy protections can result only from strong legislation.
Predictably, industry groups such as the Digital Advertising Alliance, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Direct Marketers Association have cautioned against any legislation and have insisted that self-regulation is the best way forward.
NYC Domain Awareness System: Surveillance city?
A New York City-wide Domain Awareness System (DAS) rolled out by the New York Police Department (NYPD) in July has left groups like the American Civil Liberties Union uneasy about its privacy implications.
The city's data aggregation and real-time analytics tool, built in collaboration with Microsoft, is designed to combat crime and terror threats in the city.