E911, or enhanced 911, is a Federal Communications Commission program requiring
mobile phone services to be able to track and communicate the locations of
users. Created for the obviously good purpose of helping authorities locate
emergency callers, E911 also represents a significant threat to privacy in that
it forces a location-tracking technology on mobile phone users.
The FCC has issued regulations requiring that 25% of all the handsets sold by
December 2001 support location broadcasting, and 100 percent must by December
2002. By December 2005, 95 percent of all handsets in use must be able to
broadcast location data.
In 1999, Congress passed the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999, which
amended privacy provisions in the Telecommunications
Act of 1996 to allow location information to be used for
E911 Web site, Federal
FBI Phone Tapping and Locating Cell Phones Making 911 calls: Is it
Privacy or Paranoia? by Ephraim Schwartz, InfoWorld (January 15, 2001)