Routine abuse of government surveillance power

Discussion in 'privacy general' started by spy1, Sep 27, 2005.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. spy1

    spy1 Registered Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    Clover, SC

    "Cell Phones Used to Track Users Without Probable Cause

    San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is arguing that a New York federal court should stand by its decision to require probable cause to believe a crime has been or is about to be committed before letting the government secretly track people using their cell phones.

    "This is the first case considering when the government can track the movements of your cell phone, and the answer couldn't be more important," said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "Allowing the government to turn anyone's cell phone into a tracking device without probable cause will enable a surveillance society that would make Big Brother jealous."

    Last month, the court denied a Justice Department request to monitor a cell phone's location. The ruling revealed that the DOJ has routinely been securing court orders for real-time cell phone tracking without probable cause and without any law authorizing the surveillance.

    Many cell phone users aren't aware that their phones can be used to track their location in real-time, even when they aren't using them. EFF filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Friday to oppose a DOJ motion asking the court to reconsider its pro-privacy decision. EFF argues that the Fourth Amendment requires a search warrant for such invasive surveillance, issued under the same strict standards as warrants that authorize phone and Internet wiretaps.

    The government has tried to justify this gross expansion of its authority by combining two surveillance statutes, neither of which authorize cell phone tracking on their own. As EFF explains in its brief, there is no support anywhere for this argument -- not in the statutes' language, nor in legislative history, case law, or academic commentary. Indeed, it contradicts the government's own electronic evidence manual. "It's as if the government wants the court to believe that zero plus zero somehow equals one," said Bankston.

    EFF's brief marks the first time the DOJ has had to face lawyers presenting an opposing argument on this issue. "Secrecy breeds abuse," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Before this court had the courage to stand up to the government, the hearings were hidden from the public and the judge only saw the government's point of view; this led to secret tracking orders -- without basis in law -- that threaten our fundamental liberties."

    The DOJ is expected to appeal to the district court if Magistrate Judge Orenstein denies its motion to reconsider. The court has not said when it intends to rule.

    You can read the full text of the EFF brief at ."

    Wonder how long it'll be before the same types of problems become inherent in notebook/laptop computer use (if it isn't occurring already)? Pete

    Last edited: Sep 27, 2005
  2. Vikorr

    Vikorr Registered Member

    May 1, 2005
    A few years back in Australia, someone tried to setup a website, that you subscribed to for $50 per yer, per phone number, and you could track <on the net> the location of a mobile phone (as they are known down under) to within 50 metres of where the person was.

    Apparently the phone companies have always had the technology to do so.

    I'm not sure what happened to the website, or whether it ever got up and running (the article mentioned that it was going to be set up in about 2-3 months, but then never heard anything of it again). Probably the govt shut the idea down.
  3. goodquestion

    goodquestion Guest

    You could just disconnect the battery, and it can't be used as a tracking device anymore. But you wouldn't be able to receive incoming calls. Obviously, whenever you did decide to use the phone again, and hooked up the battery, you could again be tracked and possibly recorded at that point.

    I'm just surprised we haven't been forced by law to have a ID device implanted in us all yet......that would be used for identification purposes only, which would be bad enough, and could never be used to track us in any way. ;)

    It looks like privacy will be something only seen in science fiction movies in a few years anyway. With all the newer technologies now being developed, even your thoughts won't be private anymore.
  4. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    When I worked for a networking company a number of years ago, I took a course taught by one of the best field engineers from Verizon. He made us all promise not to tell about one thing - I think it was 1) below:

    1) The power output at the top of the cell towers - local communities were concerned about microwave radiation safety in our state. Don't ever climb to the top of one of these towers - well, ok if you don't want kids, but always check for dead birds at the base of the tower before climbing. :rolleyes: :blink:
    2) That they could use triangulation to track your location by cell phone in near realtime. Only police could request this service at the time. Now with GPS, parents can track their teen's location by cell phone and record their driving habits over the Internet - just purchase the software and rig the car with a transmitter. Talk about redundant tracking.
    3) That the local DA's recorded all cell phone traffic into a data base for future reference for trial against drug trafficers from 9PM-3AM when most of the drug traffic calls occured. :D

    -- Tom
  5. _Lyn_

    _Lyn_ Guest

    Not surprising. All us sci-fi fans knew this would happen. Something else for people to consider is if they really *need* to enter the phone #'s of everyone they know. Removing the battery when not in use is a good idea, and if you dont need it, leave it at home -just be sure to check under your rear bumper for surprises! (especially those of us posting at political bbs)

    quote: I'm just surprised we haven't been forced by law to have a ID device implanted in us all yet......"

    Interesting discussion on CSPAN the other day: "Should it be mandatory to teach the Constitution in government funded schools?"

    A caller ask the Director of the Robert Byrd National Constitution Center if the Constitution permitted such acts to be perpetrated upon American citizens. His answer was "NO. That is unconstitutional", and he added that it was something that he would "fight to the death."

    quote: ".. even your thoughts won't be private anymore."

    for those unaware of what this poster is referring to, DARPA has been pursuing these and incredibly worse technologies for decades.

    lotuseclat79 thanks, i will look for dead birds! j/k (i'm not bad shot) ; )
  6. Notok

    Notok Registered Member

    May 28, 2004
    Portland, OR (USA)
    I can't say I like where technology seems to be leading us. Since when do parents have a need to know what their kids are saying and doing at any given moment? Keyloggers, GPS tracking.. kinda defeats the point of childhood, doesn't it?

    Personally I've never wanted a cell phone. If I'm out of the house I don't want anyone and everyone to be able to get ahold of me. Our phone rings too much as it is, and most all I do at work all day is talk on the phone. If I had a cell phone, I think I'd probably go crazy. The ideas expressed above only really reinforce that.
  7. StevieO

    StevieO Guest

    There are a number of companys providing tracking services in the UK, and have been for a while. You can't uninvent the technology, so it looks like it's here to stay.

    And if this is just a sample of what we could do, then i'm sure the Men in Black etc can do even more, and do ! Here's just a few examples, and the prices may surprise you too !

    Mobile Phone and Vehicle Tracking

    Easy to set up, low cost and all web based. Track any mobile in the UK.

    from 20p per track

    Are you ever worried where your children are?

    ChildLocate provides you with peace of mind
    Locate your child's mobile phone anywhere in the UK from your PC or via text message.

    It is Simple... Safe... and Secure

    The service costs just £1.34 per week for a Family Pack of 5 registered mobiles

    - Free Connection (worth £10.00)
    - 25 Free annual locations (worth £11.20)
    - Unlimited text messages from 10p a message
    - 24 x 7 X 365 days location services

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.