A senior British judge has highlighted the benefits of legislation that obliges people to carry their mobile phone at all times.
Sir Geoffrey Vos QC, Chancellor of the High Court and former head of the Bar Council, raised the prospect of compulsory mobe-carrying in a speech to the Law Society (PDF).
Vos drew attention to the advantages that a permanent record of an individual's movement could have on cutting crime.
He did not personally advocate the compulsory carrying of location-aware technology, but speculated that public resistance to it may diminish in the future.
I think there will be far fewer contested criminal cases in the future, mainly because of the surveillance of which I have already spoken. We have recently seen the impact that digital disclosure of mobile phone records has had on rape prosecutions. One change in behaviour is already having a big impact on the eradication of contested criminal cases. Most people carry their smartphones on their person at all times with their GPS location switched on. They do this voluntarily, but if the legislators were, for example, to require citizens to carry phones at all times, it would be even more difficult to avoid detection. With or without such a rule, as the location of all persons is continuously uploaded to the cloud, there will be far fewer identity issues in criminal cases. As society seems to accept more and more surveillance, I wonder how radical the change I have mentioned will seem to the population in 10, 15 or 20 years' time.
Digital mobile phones have always offered law enforcement the ability to obtain the location of devices via cell tower triangulation, but Silicon Valley's obsessive data hoarding has made the job easier. Google never throws anything away, and continues to collect (and store) location data even when GPS location services are disabled.
Two years ago a US appeal court ruled that law enforcement requests to obtain the location history acquired and stored by Google Maps did not require a warrant, as the user had shared the data voluntarily. The Supreme Court of the United States is mulling the issue (Carpenter vs USA) and a decision is expected by June.
We asked the Chancellor's office for clarification. ®