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Throughout its new season, the political drama "House of Cards" touches on the salient issues of government surveillance and law enforcement access to phone and internet data. But many privacy experts are criticizing the show for getting a key aspect of law enforcement's surveillance authority wrong.
The script for a D.C. police officer in one of the early episodes reads, "Even if we got the case reopened, which isn't gonna happen, do you have any idea how hard it is to get a warrant for phone data?"
Many privacy advocates have pointed out that a warrant is seldom necessary for federal, state and local law enforcement officials to access phone metadata. The "House of Cards" character in this scene would simply have to ask the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to issue an administrative subpoena. The request would require neither a judge nor evidence of criminal wrongdoing.