Geolocation Apps

Geolocation: Law Enforcement

The president has signed a law giving law enforcement agencies the right to obtain data on the location of cell phones of missing citizens to search for them.


The law allows the bodies engaged in operational-search activities to request information on the location of the phone or computer of the missing person, as well as call billing, from telecommunications operators with help of geolocation tracking apps. These operators will have to provide within 24 hours, law enforcement officers are obliged to notify the court about the request for such information. And if the court permission is not received within 48 hours, they will have to stop using this information.

President gave law enforcers the right to promptly search for missing people using geolocation aps
Andrei Klishas, head of the Committee on Constitutional Legislation and Nation Building, told TASS with reference to the law regulates the search procedure for incapacitated or partially capable individuals in a way similar to the current procedure for searching minors. In this case, the information on the whereabouts of the geolocation of the law enforcement agencies will be obtained after a written consent of the legal representative of the missing person.
The law was developed by a group of deputies and senators, headed by speaker Valentina Matvienko in execution of the president’s order. The document amends Article 8 of the Law “On Investigative Work” and specifies the information to be transmitted by the operator when a person is missing.

The earlier the possibility of search appears, the better the chances to find a person alive,” Valentina Matvienko said earlier. 

The initiative was previously supported by the coordinator of the detachment “Liza Alert” Oleg Leonov. He noted that “about six thousand people die with their cell phones turned on every year.”

The bill of the Ministry of Digital:

the withdrawal of the geolocation of smartphones from the secrecy of communications


In early February 2021 it became known about the draft law developed by the Ministry of Digital, which gives the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Federal Security Service and Federal Security Service the right to obtain data on the volume of services, their cost and geolocation of subscribers from mobile operators without a court decision.
By February 2021, data on the location of the device will fall under the protection of Article 63 of the Federal Law “On Communications. It says that this information can be disclosed to third parties only by court decision.
As “Kommersant” writes with reference to the explanatory note to the new bill, the information listed there is not related to the secrecy of communications, and a request of the bodies carrying out investigative activities to the communications operator should be quite enough to obtain it.

Ministry of Digital plans to remove the geolocation of smartphones from the secrecy of communications
The Ministry of Digital noted that the bill was prepared as part of the president’s instruction, which the leader made after a meeting with the public. It is about ensuring the finalization of legislation for the rapid search for missing people, and as part of the federal project “Regulatory regulation of the digital environment”, which is part of the national program “Digital Economy”.

Tens of thousands of people are lost in the country every year. Both resources of federal bodies, which carry out ORD, and search public organizations and communication operators are involved in their search,” says Oleg Ivanov, deputy head of the Ministry of Digital Economy (quoted by Vedomosti). – Telecom operators can provide service information of communication facilities, including coordinates of subscriber devices of missing citizens. However, at present, coordinates of subscriber devices are a secret, which operators are obliged to enforce. 

Law enforcers used to be able to request such data without a court decision, said Dmitry Lipin, member of the commission for legal support of the digital economy of the Moscow branch of the Association of Lawyers to the Kommersant newspaper. But formally this issue was in a legal gray area, but now the Ministry of Digital Economy wants to eliminate the gap in regulation, the expert added.

Mobile operators will be obliged to disclose the geolocation of missing people without a court decision

The government has adopted laws on communications on operative investigation activity, which should simplify access to geolocation data from the devices of people who have gone missing.
If the innovations come into force, the authorized bodies, which carry out investigative activities, may receive information from the operator about the location of the subscriber’s cell phone without a court decision. A motivated decision of one of the heads of the internal affairs bodies is enough for this.

In such a case cellular operators will take permission from the clients to use their personal data:

it will help the police to conduct searches faster and more accurately.


By the end of September it will be mandatory to get a court approval for locating a subscriber, but the waiting for such a paper can last for hours, if not days. This precious time could be spent on the successful search for the missing. This is how the authors of the bill, which includes well-known senators Lyudmila Bokova and Andrei Klishas, argued the need for a new rule.

The authors of the amendments point out that in the first two or three days the cell phone of the lost person still works – it’s a good opportunity to find him quickly, using the geodata.

Earlier amendments that simplified the search for missing children using data from their mobile devices were adopted. If a child goes missing, his or her parents (or one of them, or legal representatives) can apply to the police with a written statement, and they should start a search within 24 hours, including the use of geolocation data from the child’s mobile devices.