Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Sprint Revealed Customer GPS Data 8 Million Times

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the tap-o-matic dept.

Privacy 315

An anonymous reader sends along Chris Soghoian's blog entry revealing that Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers' GPS location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009. The data point comes from a closed industry conference that Soghoian attended, at which Paul Taylor, Electronic Surveillance Manager at Sprint Nextel, said: "[M]y major concern is the volume of requests. We have a lot of things that are automated but that's just scratching the surface. One of the things, like with our GPS tool. We turned it on the web interface for law enforcement about one year ago last month, and we just passed 8 million requests. So there is no way on earth my team could have handled 8 million requests from law enforcement, just for GPS alone. So the tool has just really caught on fire with law enforcement. They also love that it is extremely inexpensive to operate and easy, so, just the sheer volume of requests they anticipate us automating other features, and I just don't know how we'll handle the millions and millions of requests that are going to come in." Soghoian's post details the laws around disclosure of wiretap and other interception data — one of which the Department of Justice has been violating since 2004 — and calls for more disclosure of the levels of all forms of surveillance.

cancel ×

315 comments

conferenct? (1, Offtopic)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30287880)

What's that?

Re:conferenct? (1)

RedACE7500 (904963) | more than 4 years ago | (#30287928)

It's in Connectictuct.

In other news... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30287910)

kdawson and CmdrTaco have revealed their micropenises 8 million times at the local glory hole.

automated tool for locating cells? (2, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#30287918)

Automated tool for locating cells? wow that sounds like an invitation for disaster and abuse. So what happens first, someone hacks it, or it's used in a 1984 style manner? (my guess is the latter has already happened/happening.)

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (4, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30287970)

Uh, with 8 million requests in a year I'd say it's already very 1984ish. Wonder if this overrides the '911 only' setting on many handsets?

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (-1, Flamebait)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288068)

The true 1984 will come, when all your health records will be known to the Federal Government so that it can monitor both the health care you are getting and whether you are complying with the mandate to carry health insurance.

It sure is "Orwellian" and it is true [csmonitor.com] ... Republicans may have skirted some laws (although no more than Democrat Roosevelt did, when arresting thousands of Americans of Japanese, German, or Italian origin) in their "war on terror", but to establish a true Big Brother, a nation needs an Illiberal in office...

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288180)

whether you are complying with the unconstitutional mandate to carry health insurance.

Fixed that for you.

It sure is "Orwellian"

Doesn't that depend on how they are counting requests? If a 'request' is nothing more than a hit on their webpage then 8,000,000 might not be out of line. Imagine how often you would need to refresh such a tool in the process of tracking a particular suspect.

If 8,000,000 refers to the number of customers that law enforcement requested data on then that's another matter altogether.....

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (-1, Offtopic)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288366)

Unconstitutional is right. I'm not paying any damn ~$2500 fine just because I don't have health insurance.

So if I suddenly disappear during 2010, first you can party, and then second you can come visit me in jail. The Constitution gives to the U.S. no power to fine people for not buying a product. What's next? I'll be fined because I bought a conventional Civic instead of the "green" hybrid version? Any such power has been reserved to the STATES or the people. The U.S. can take its unconstitutional fines and shove them up its marble ass.

'

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (2, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288422)

Any such power has been reserved to the STATES or the people.

There's also the concept of freedom of association to consider. Congress can't compel me by force of law to associate with anybody, including a health insurance company. Might be able to make a claim under the 4th amendment as well. If I have the right to be secure in my papers and effects then how the hell does the Federal Government have the power to demand to know whether or not I'm carrying insurance?

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (2, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288670)

There's also the concept of freedom of association to consider. Congress can't compel me by force of law to associate with anybody, including a health insurance company.

You'll be arguing these fine legal points in courts, until the judges get bored with it and begin fining you for contempt as they already do to people, who argue, that the entire Income Tax is unconstitutional [wikipedia.org] .

The monstrosity has to be stopped now (make that a "Now!!!" — with the Illiberal-beloved raised fist). Don't wait for it to be struck by Supreme Court, for it may never happen... Roosevelt — the earlier opponent of "letting a good crisis go to waste" — had to fight Supreme Court for his "New Deal", and prevailed...

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288742)

You'll be arguing these fine legal points in courts, until the judges get bored with it and begin fining you for contempt as they already do to people, who argue, that the entire Income Tax is unconstitutional [wikipedia.org].

Those people deserve to go to jail. The income tax is [wikipedia.org] constitutional. If Congress can pass a Constitutional Amendment authorizing a health insurance mandate and 3/4 of the states ratify it then I'll shut up about how it's unconstitutional. If they pass it without doing that then it deserves to be struck down as the freedom infringing power grab that it really is.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288766)

Yeah except the Income Tax people are just loony since the 16th amendment to the constitution allows congress to levy the tax.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (2, Insightful)

kaizendojo (956951) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288546)

I hate to put a crease in your tinfoil hat, but...

1. What the hell does your health insurance rant have to do with the subject at hand?
2. You quote the Constitution like fundamentalists quote the Bible; you're damn sure there's something about 'insert rantable subject here' in there but you have no proof of reference.
3. The Federal Government doesn't HAVE to have the power to 'fine people for not buying a product'; your State/Commonwealth has been doing it for years with Auto Insurance. Don't want to pay those insurance bills? Then you don't get to drive that car of yours.
4. You sir, can take your tinfoil hat and leave and we'll not shed a tear... Go form your own country or find one that you like better. You don't even have to wait until 2010.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288780)

2. You quote the Constitution like fundamentalists quote the Bible; you're damn sure there's something about 'insert rantable subject here' in there but you have no proof of reference.

Freedom of association is protected by the 1st amendment. The 4th amendment protects the privacy of my papers and effects. The 10th amendment reserves all powers not specifically granted to Congress to the states or the people. I'd say that's enough reference for anybody.

3. The Federal Government doesn't HAVE to have the power to 'fine people for not buying a product'; your State/Commonwealth has been doing it for years with Auto Insurance. Don't want to pay those insurance bills? Then you don't get to drive that car of yours.

Having a car is a choice. The health insurance mandate is a mandate that will be imposed just by virtue of being born on American soil. If you draw breath then you will be subject to this mandate. If you can't see the difference between the two then there's no point in discussing this matter with you.

4. You sir, can take your tinfoil hat and leave and we'll not shed a tear... Go form your own country or find one that you like better. You don't even have to wait until 2010.

Ah, the old "if you don't like this, leave" argument. Funny how you leftists cried foul when the rightists made that argument but now use it yourselves. Fucking hypocrites.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (4, Interesting)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288788)

What the hell does your health insurance rant have to do with the subject at hand?

The subject at hand outrages Illiberal slashdotters because the government's law enforcers find it "too easy" to get GPS-data about their suspects (the subset of suspects, who are also Sprint customers) from Sprint. The "health insurance rant" is related to that, because people with self-consistent beliefs ought to be even more outraged, by the government's attempts to learn about each citizen's (suspected of anything or not) health care, linked precisely to their financial information [csmonitor.com] .

That's what links the two topics fairly closely. I hope, I was able to address your concern.

You sir, can take your tinfoil hat and leave and we'll not shed a tear... Go form your own country or find one that you like better. You don't even have to wait until 2010.

Didn't you promise to leave for Canada in 2004? What happened — the door slammed you too hard on your way out?..

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288598)

Does Sprint even have 8,000,000 customers?

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288646)

Hey, idiot [theonion.com] , maybe you would be interested in reading this article [fivethirtyeight.com] which explains why you're wrong.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288242)

That this party or that is more responsible for the painful, ongoing fiasco of stripping our constitutional freedoms is naive to the point of childishness. Both parties have been screwing us with both fists for more decades than you have neurons. Also 1984 has no more to do with medical charts than it does with internet search histories (i.e. both are troubling but neither are explicitly featured in Orwell's work). Get a new buzzword for totalitarianism/fascism (actually those words suffice just fine).

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288282)

var topic = "cell phone"
if(yourRant != topic)
{
return null;
}

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (3, Funny)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288390)

var topic = "cell phone"
if(yourRant != topic)
{
return null;
}

Yikes. I hope he wasn't posting from a Fios connection.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

Cal27 (1610211) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288616)

1: error: expected ‘,’ or ‘;’ before ‘if’

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288686)

There is a bug in your code. I think you are missing the goto 10

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288344)

The true 1984 will come, when all your health records will be known to the Federal Government so that it can monitor both the health care you are getting and whether you are complying with the mandate to carry health insurance.

It sure is "Orwellian" and it is true [csmonitor.com] ... Republicans may have skirted some laws (although no more than Democrat Roosevelt did, when arresting thousands of Americans of Japanese, German, or Italian origin) in their "war on terror", but to establish a true Big Brother, a nation needs an Illiberal in office...

Or it needs to have one party, the Statist Party. This party has two factions; one is called the Democrats while the other is called the Republicans. Their value to the Statist Party is derived from maximizing small, petty differences and minimizing fundamental similarities. I'll explain one such similarity.

Traditionally, the Democrats/Leftists prefer personal freedoms at the expense of economic freedoms, while tradtionally the Republicans/Rightists prefer economic freedoms at the expense of personal freedoms. This is the case even though a freedom, once restricted, is never made unrestricted again. So the parties take turns being in power, and while there they implement their particular brand of restrictions. When the other party reacquires power, they further implement their brand of restrictions without lifting those enacted by the party that was previously in power. This guarantees that over time, you end up with less freedom and eventually end up with a total police state. This is only one technique in use. The notion that over generations of time, no one in those parties would have noticed this and decided to change it is absurd. Therefore there can be nothing accidental about it.

The important thing about this system is that it appears to provide choice to the electorate. The electorate must remain convinced that their votes matter and might really change the system, or else they lose all incentive to participate in the system and accept it as valid. This is necessary because the British have already tried to control this region by brute force and overt authority and were not successful; therefore something more deceptive is needed.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (3, Insightful)

FlyingAfrican (1690304) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288694)

Economic freedom IS personal freedom.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (2, Insightful)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288792)

...sure, unless you're broke.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

Rewind (138843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288506)

Insightful? A health care rant on this story? I think the correct mod would have been off-topic, but hey, I could be wrong.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288712)

to establish a true Big Brother, a nation needs an Illiberal in office

Mussolini was a liberal? Buddy, you sound both ignorant and insane. Your health care records are already owned by the government. They have access any time they want them.

In return the government is owned by the insurance company as well as every other big corporation.

By the time Mussolini returned from Allied service in World War I, he had decided that socialism as a doctrine had largely been a failure [wikipedia.org]

rule by an elite promoting the state as the ultimate end, opposition to democracy, protecting the class system and promoting class collaboration, rejection of egalitarianism, promoting the militarization of a nation by creating a class of warriors, demanding that citizens perform civic duties in the interest of the state, and utilizing state intervention in education to promote the creation of warriors and future rulers of the state

Sounds like the Republicans... AND the Democrats.

Facism [wikipedia.org] "Fascism, pronounced /fæzm/, is a political ideology that seeks to combine radical and authoritarian nationalism[1][2][3][4] with a corporatist economic system,[5] and which is usually considered to be on the far right of the traditional left-right political spectrum.[6][7][8][9][10]

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288170)

Uh, with 8 million requests in a year I'd say it's already very 1984ish. Wonder if this overrides the '911 only' setting on many handsets?

The funny thing is, those of us who saw this coming and knew that any sort of GPS capability for which it is technically possible for the phone company to read that GPS data would be abused in this fashion were usually called "paranoid" or "conspiracy nuts". How many examples like this do we need before people are less quick to dismiss what they should be examining as a real possibility?

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288218)

he funny thing is, those of us who saw this coming and knew that any sort of GPS capability for which it is technically possible for the phone company to read that GPS data would be abused in this fashion were usually called "paranoid" or "conspiracy nuts"

It really doesn't matter that they use GPS. Any transmitting radio device can be tracked. It's just a matter of having the right tools and the training to do so. The question you've got to ask yourself is whether or not the convenience of a cell phone is worth the trade off of the phone company having access to your whereabouts whenever you carry said cell phone with you.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288516)

Yeah but triangulation is difficult and time-consuming, plus far from exact. It also requires knowing where somebody is at, else you'll be triangulating Baltimore when the suspect is over in Philly. In contrast GPS is like a big sign that says, "Here he is" as it moves across the cop's map. It's precise, instant, and easy

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (2, Informative)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288662)

Yeah but triangulation is difficult and time-consuming, plus far from exact. It also requires knowing where somebody is at, else you'll be triangulating Baltimore when the suspect is over in Philly. In contrast GPS is like a big sign that says, "Here he is" as it moves across the cop's map. It's precise, instant, and easy

Well, to be clear, triangulation is easy if you are the cell company or software running on the device. Google maps has (and still does) used triangulation to get pretty accurate location for years - before GPS was as common or when GPS signals are unavaliable. That still requires hacking either sprint's network or the device itself, but it's just good to be clear that not having GPS on a device doesn't save us much.
-Taylor

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (4, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288682)

It also requires knowing where somebody is at, else you'll be triangulating Baltimore when the suspect is over in Philly.

You'd know that anyway. The cellular network is broken up into zones to lessen the load on the paging channel. Pages are the way that the network locates your phone for incoming calls, pings, SMS, etc. If you had one giant nationwide paging zone then you'd have far too many paging requests to handle. So they break the network up into zones and at a minimum are always going to know which zone your phone is located in. In a rural area these zones might stretch for quite a distance but in more urban areas they tend to be smaller, as more phones equals more paging traffic.

The minute your phone makes/receives a call or SMS they know which tower it's on. From that point forward it's child's play to locate the customer. You don't even need to do triangulation either. At a minimum you can figure out which sector of the tower they are on -- that will narrow down their location to a 120 degree slice of the tower's coverage. With GSM you can use the timing advance to figure out their range from the tower, in 550 meter segments. I believe there's also a way to compute the distance from the tower in CDMA networks without needing to do triangulation.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288552)

he funny thing is, those of us who saw this coming and knew that any sort of GPS capability for which it is technically possible for the phone company to read that GPS data would be abused in this fashion were usually called "paranoid" or "conspiracy nuts"

It really doesn't matter that they use GPS. Any transmitting radio device can be tracked. It's just a matter of having the right tools and the training to do so. The question you've got to ask yourself is whether or not the convenience of a cell phone is worth the trade off of the phone company having access to your whereabouts whenever you carry said cell phone with you.

While that's absolutely true, it's also a less convenient way to track someone. Less convenient than having their handset automatically and periodically broadcast its already-calculated whearabouts to anyone who wants to know. Is either carrying a transmitting radio, or carrying a transmitting radio with GPS perfect? No, that's why I never claimed that it was. Do I prefer that we raise the bar as much as possible for this sort of surveillance, and consider it in terms of "the more effort, training, and equipment it takes to do this, the better"? Yes, I do.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288296)

You are paranoid, a conspiracy nut and have a highly inflated self-image if you honestly think that anyone in the government gives a flying fuck about what you're doing.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288330)

You are paranoid, a conspiracy nut and have a highly inflated self-image if you honestly think that anyone in the government gives a flying fuck about what you're doing.

You've never paid attention to history if you think that government won't eventually be corrupted and abuse it's power.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288600)

You are paranoid, a conspiracy nut and have a highly inflated self-image if you honestly think that anyone in the government gives a flying fuck about what you're doing.

If I exceed the speed limit by 10 mph and a traffic cop notices, at that moment someone in the government has chosen to give a fuck about what I am doing. Therefore, it doesn't take much to meet this definition you have given, and that's assuming an honest cop and honest state legislators. I don't even want to know what kind of extralegal problems dishonest cops and corrupt officials could cause with impunity.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

LOLLinux (1682094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288642)

Which is completely different to thinking that someone is watching all your movements through the GPS data from your phone.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288748)

Which is completely different to thinking that someone is watching all your movements through the GPS data from your phone.

???

8 Million is a big number, I would like to see all 8 million warrants please... I mean they are public record right? shrug...

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

LOLLinux (1682094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288790)

I would also agree as well. But 8 million requests doesn't imply that someone in the government gives a fuck about the location of some random slashdotter while they are on the phone.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (0)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30287982)

I see.... you're one of "those" complainers... well... we'll just have to start watching *you*.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (5, Informative)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#30287994)

Automated tool for locating cells? wow that sounds like an invitation for disaster and abuse. So what happens first, someone hacks it, or it's used in a 1984 style manner? (my guess is the latter has already happened/happening.)

Your latter guess has been mandated by law since the passage of the 1996 telecommunications act. Your cell phone can be listened to and tracked anywhere within coverage area as long as your cellphone has its battery inserted.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288168)

I guess that explains why you can not remove the battery on the iPhone.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288174)

Thanks Hans.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1, Troll)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288254)

Your latter guess has been mandated by law since the passage of the 1996 telecommunications act.

Remember who signed that into law the next time you hear someone try to tell you that Democrats are actually better than Republicans.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (5, Insightful)

LOLLinux (1682094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288360)

Remember who signed that into law the next time you hear someone try to tell you that Democrats are actually better than Republicans.

And remember who controlled both the House and the Senate when that law was passed by both houses the next time you hear someone try to tell you that Republicans are actually better than Democrats.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

LOLLinux (1682094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288612)

Good thing those "small government" Republicans came in to power to help stop the passage of this heinous bill, right? If only it weren't for those pesky Democrats it would have failed due to only having a paltry 100% support from Reps in the House and 96.2% support in the Senate.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (0, Offtopic)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288698)

I love it! You get an informative mod and I get a troll one for saying the exact same thing. Moderator hypocrisy seems to be on full display today, doesn't it?

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (5, Informative)

LOLLinux (1682094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288398)

Oh and let's look at who actually voted against the act here [wave-guide.org] : Notice how only 1 Republican voted against it in the Senate while 4 Democrats did. And how it wasn't voted against by a single Republican in the House while 15 Democrats did. Even the abstainers don't paint the Republicans in a good light on this one. Only 1 Rep abstained in the Senate while 2 Dems did while 4 Dems in the House abstained while 0 Reps did. And before I get labeled a Liberal or a Democrat, I'm a centrist who votes for the Libertarians.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (3, Informative)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288302)

Welcome to the Technetronic era!

The technetronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities.’

- Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, 1970

FYI, Zbigniew Brzezinski [wikipedia.org] is one of America's most influential foreign policy strategists.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

rpresser (610529) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288720)

So HE'S responsible for pumping up the jam.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (3, Insightful)

whterbt (211035) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288568)

Your latter guess has been mandated by law since the passage of the 1996 telecommunications act. Your cell phone can be listened to and tracked anywhere within coverage area as long as your cellphone has its battery inserted.

[citation needed]

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (2, Interesting)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288700)

... Your cell phone can be listened to and tracked anywhere within coverage area as long as your cellphone has its battery inserted.

Uh, really? Even when the phone is powered off? My phone doesn't seem to communicate with the cell towers when its powered off, or else the battery would still die. Are you citing some verifiable resource, or just conspiracy theory? I'm not trying to flame, it just sounds unlikely to me that a powered off cell phone would still be trackable. Of course, if you really don't wanna be tracked, removing the battery is safer, because crazier things have happened, but still, are you sure you're correct?
-Taylor

How to fix things: break them further (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288258)

There is a simple fix for this problem: Someone with law enforcement access needs to log in, look up the numbers for some prominent politicians and CEOs, and start posting their locations on a public site. When we can watch the watchmen, they will restore proper checks and balances (require a warrant or similar).

I suspect that focusing the spotlight on the roaches at the top will send them scurrying for cover in rapid order.

Re:automated tool for locating cells? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288260)

Well, eight million requests - good grief. Maybe the police has an automated screen scraper tied to a moving map to follow a suspect in real time. Otherwise some copper must really bored and pressing Reload umpteen times a day.

RTFA .. or even the story excerpt (1)

rpresser (610529) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288740)

and then go learn what "web services" are.

Guess whose contract with Sprint is up for renewal (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30287988)

Mine, though I seriously doubt all the other major carriers aren't also doing this. Maybe I'll go back to using pre-paid phones plus Google voice to rule them all, Google versus the Feds, who do you trust less?

Re:Guess whose contract with Sprint is up for rene (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288194)

Well since Google bends over backwards for the People's Republic, I'm sure that when the Feds push it they will do whatever the Feds want.

I trust the Feds more than Google, at least with the Feds there is a chance at court, not with Google.

Re:Guess whose contract with Sprint is up for rene (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288348)

You think the cops are watching YOU? What are you doing that makes you so paranoid?

Re:Guess whose contract with Sprint is up for rene (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288752)

You think the cops are watching YOU? What are you doing that makes you so paranoid?

That's cute, quaint, and outdated. It used to be that the state had limited resources and therefore, of economic necessity, it could only focus its manpower and its surveillance capability on what it considered to be the most dangerous/influential dissidents. That has been the case, historically.

Technologies like automated GPS and massive databases have changed the game. The more technology advances, the cheaper it becomes to surveil more and more people. A state that would have had to focus its efforts on the 50 most dangerous dissidents 100 years ago can now use those same resources to monitor hundreds or thousands. Over time, that becomes more and more the case. You now have modern governments with plenty of manpower, nearly unlimited funding (thanks to deficit spending), and high technology which can efficiently keep tabs on millions of people at once. The more this is the case, the less unusual you have to be to stand out from the crowd and attract unwanted attention and scrutiny. We are quickly heading towards a future where even expressing a slightly unpopular political opinion can get you noticed whether or not you are informed of this fact.

Think of all the people who have committed no crimes, have not even been accused of a crime, yet end up on the "no-fly" list for no apparent reason and are not allowed to find out why. Right here in America, the "land of the free." Then consider that this list is special because its existence is publically acknowledged and its use appears to be relatively limited.

Time to track some goverment officials (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30287998)

Hmmmmm, what is the http:// address of that service, I have some congress critters I would like to know there whereabouts.

Um. (0, Redundant)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288000)

So what?

Just the spies hitting refresh incessantly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288042)

I think sprint should consider removing the karma feature from the CIA message boards.

Not just for law enforcement (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288046)

Many companies track their employees too using tools like Xora (xora.com). The City of Chicago uses it extensively to track city workers...

"Who watches the Watchers?" (5, Insightful)

P-38Jbird (1087601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288050)

As if... So, tell me, how many of these were legal crime fighting uses and how many were just cops checking up on their girlfriends, ect. 8 million. and thet's just Sprint.

Re:"Who watches the Watchers?" (1)

aclunc (1690832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288232)

Unfortunately, the answer is likely "no one." A huge part of the problem is the fact that our current privacy laws are completely outdated. Law enforcement agencies can request geolocation data and other private information from companies with little or no court oversight, and the customer is unlikely to ever even know that their information was disclosed. You can read more about the issue at our Location Information page here: http://tr.im/GkQT [tr.im] . ACLU of Northern California – dotRights Campaign

8 million times? (2, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288058)

That could easily be 15 people, one "location" revealed per GPS heartbeat for the full year+month. Or a slightly larger number of people tracked for smaller periods of time. No, I didn't read the article, but 8,000,000 sounds ridiculously high for individual requests.

Re:8 million times? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288128)

actually, according to the article, it's ridiculously low. Try not to make up stupid shit.

Re:8 million times? (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288434)

That could easily be 15 people, one "location" revealed per GPS heartbeat for the full year+month. Or a slightly larger number of people tracked for smaller periods of time. No, I didn't read the article, but 8,000,000 sounds ridiculously high for individual requests.

I suspect this is closer to the truth. Try getting even 100 requests for information out of a telecom, much less 8,000,000 individual requests, even if the tool is somewhat automated.

Who are we fighing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288062)

I can never keep track of what side I'm on, is it Oceania, Eurasia, or Eastasia?

The tinfoil hat jokes are on us. (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288104)

Yesterday's unmedicated-schizophrenic black helicopterite conspiracy theory is today's mundane maybe-the-media-will-actually-bother-to-pick-it-up-I-think-we-have-some-space-on-page-six story.

Re:The tinfoil hat jokes are on us. (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288364)

And tomorrow's front page headline. The question is whether the headline article will say, "What an outrage; someone should stop this!" or the more likely, "This is why you need to calm down and be good citizens."

Re:The tinfoil hat jokes are on us. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288556)

I suspect that we'll be treated to a facile "debate" on the matter by a largely supine media who, when not overtly groveling for their coveted "access", have let a fetish for "balance" overwhelm any commitment to clear presentation of the truth.

Your staid, respectable, "serious" journalists will write a bunch of he-said/she-said articles, where bland denials from law enforcement will be taken at face value.

The only part of this that isn't completely predictable is trying to figure out how right wing sources will react: Will they be overcome by their usual worshipful attitude toward law enforcement and executive power, or will this be one of those cases where a program, having hummed along for years now, is suddenly a clear and pressing indicator of Obama's communist-fascist-muslim plot to destroy america.

Re:The tinfoil hat jokes are on us. (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288372)

And if the trend is continuing, pause to imagine the unprecedented horrors that await us tomorrow.

Just Sprint, or others as well? (4, Informative)

Tynin (634655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288110)

I just don't understand how this could be legal. The fact that Sprint is being open about this seems to suggest that they have done nothing wrong, and this is business as usual. If so, is this standard with other cell providers as well? I could have sworn I've read an article elsewhere, where someone was trying to locate a missing person and contacted the cell provider to have them give them GPS coords and they refused to turn them over without a court order (cannot find it after some searching)... yet they give the police unlimited access without so much as a court provided rubber stamp machine?!

Re:Just Sprint, or others as well? (5, Informative)

Tynin (634655) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288306)

Sorry for replying to myself. After some more research I found a ruling by the DoJ (discussed on /. here [slashdot.org] ) that what Sprint is giving the police is protected by the 4th Amendment and would need a warrant to be issued before providing that data. Yet that isn't happening. I read the article, I'm still not sure how this could be legal.

Out-of-date laws are the culprit (5, Informative)

ManConley (1085415) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288806)

While the Lenihan order [eff.org] and decision did say that the government cannot demand location information without a search warrant, that decision has been appealed by the current administration [irregulartimes.com] . And even if the DOJ loses that appeal, the decision would only apply to a limited section of the country - other courts could decide differently.

The bigger issue is that electronic communications laws are badly out-of-date. There are so many grey areas and loopholes that Sprint and the DOJ can easily argue with a straight face that GPS records are not protected by the Constitution, are not protected by federal or state law, can be demanded without a search warrant, can even be voluntarily handed over with no process whatsoever, do not have to be logged, and do not require anyone ever to tell the person whose location information was collected that they were tracked. And while the courts often do get it right eventually, that's a really slow battle - we need a better approach than that.

We (the ACLU) are launching a new campaign, Demand Your dotRights [dotrights.org] , to push companies and lawmakers to provide real protections for our personal information. The "Electronic Communication Privacy Act," which is supposed to protect information like GPS records, was passed in 1986(!) - it just doesn't fit any more.

We hope you will all sign on and join our efforts to push Sprint, lawmakers, and others to respect individual privacy. It clearly won't be an easy battle (seeing how Sprint is actually proud of its "over 8 million GPS record requests served" title), but with enough support, we hope to make a difference - and we could use your help!

Abuse of Power (1)

Gricey (154787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288136)

The problem with this kind of tool, and really it boils down to all the increasing surveillance options available to law enforcement (trust me, my ass is fully violated, I live in the UK) - they make it trivial for anyone interested with the correct clearance to go to town and infringe on someones rights. This kind of tool rarely has the correct AAA criteria set up for it (nor does any of the increasing computerised government systems), so more and more of our personal data is being shipped wholesale, without our permission, into the hands of people who are either incompetant or not suitable to handle it.

These kind of tools need peer-review as to their use, and an accountable audit procedure.

Re:Abuse of Power (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288244)

"my ass is fully violated, I live in the UK"

If you'd said "Christmas Islands" I'd have believed you.

I'm immune! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288152)

My blackberry has a crappy GPS. Doesn't work indoors, and doesn't work half the time in the car.

Take that, iphone fanbois!!!!!!

Re:I'm immune! (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288224)

They can still get you through cell tower triangulation.

Re:I'm immune! (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288346)

Do you have to have three towers within range to get a triangulation? When I'm home, I'm within range of one tower. When it goes out (it has twice), I have no cell reception.

There are plenty of places in the U.S. without more than one tower in range.

Re:I'm immune! (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288432)

They will know what tower you are on.

So theres 1 tower, they can go - oh xxx-yyy-zzzz is at Tower XCD1, within 410 yards. Look up...he has a green Mazada and his billing address is 1234 whatever lane. 1234 whatever lane is within 410 yards of the tower! Get him!

Re:I'm immune! (1)

danlip (737336) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288474)

I believe you only need 2 towers for triangulation (you are the 3rd point in the triangle). And even with 1 tower, they still know your approximate location (i.e. they know you are close enough to that tower to get reception, and not close enough to any other tower to register). They might even be able to tell distance from the tower by signal strength or delay. Enough to support or destroy an alibi.

Re:I'm immune! (2, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288684)

You're not taking into account that cell towers are omnidirectional.

You need 3 towers. If there are two, you could be in either of the two places of equal distance. You need the third tower to take the ambiguity away.

http://www.hacking--thealliance.50megs.com/images/cell_triangulation.gif [50megs.com]

--
BMO

Re:I'm immune! (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288730)

trilaterlization (not triangulation) can be done with just 2 towers, but it's iffy. If the 120 degree arcs of the antennas overlap roughly symmetrically and the phone isn't near the edge or either arc, it can sometimes be impossible to map the phone to a single location. If the point opposite the phone in relation to the line of symmetry also falls within the overlapped area, there's no way to know which is the actual location and which is the reflection without having a third tower present. Having a third tower eliminates all reflexive points.

Glad I don't have GPS in my cellphone (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288216)

I am now really glad I don't have GPS in my cellphone. In fact, I am glad I almost never even have my cellphone with me anymore...

Re:Glad I don't have GPS in my cellphone (1)

Jon Abbott (723) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288452)

I'm glad I don't have a cell phone.

Re:Glad I don't have GPS in my cellphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288660)

I would agree with you, except where I live at least there are *NO* payphones anymore. What does this mean? Unless you're really suave and can either bum a call off a passerby, or business, or homeowner, you're SOL for getting ahold of someone, if say they forgot to pick you up. Or your car broke down, Or your phone service got cut because you couldn't afford to pay the bill.

Point? Cells are almost a necessity now because the alternative infrastructure previously employed is no longer offered in an ubiquitous fashion.

Re:Glad I don't have GPS in my cellphone (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288744)

I'm glad I don't have a cell phone.

I really don't understand that. I mean, are you a criminal doing serious stuff where tracking would matter? Not that this sprint stuff is okay, but i mean, I just don't get people without cell phones. And i've had the why or why not discussion on slashdot enough I don't want to have it again, but still, i just don't get it. I mean, you don't not have it just to avoid tracking, do you?
-Taylor

Re:Glad I don't have GPS in my cellphone (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288716)

I am now really glad I don't have GPS in my cellphone. In fact, I am glad I almost never even have my cellphone with me anymore...

They can still find you to within a couple hundred meters. They use cell triangulation for 911 calls and smartphones with google maps use it with surprising accuracy for a rough fix when GPS is off or out of signal.
-Taylor

Warrant required? (5, Interesting)

Jon_Hanson (779123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288352)

That's great that they have a web interface to service the law enforcement needs to track people by the GPS in their cell phone. How does the web site verify a valid warrant? Does the web site ask them to hold it up to the screen for verification?

Re:Warrant required? (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288574)

Surely warrants have some kind of identifier on them, even if it's just the title. Seems easy enough to require the police to fill in another field with the warrant ID. The defense lawyers can then sort through it all and blow things up at their convenience.

Not just Sprint (2, Informative)

mu51c10rd (187182) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288368)

This was interesting:

 

The first agency within DOJ to respond was the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), who informed me that they had price lists on file for Cox, Comcast, Yahoo! and Verizon. Since the price lists were provided to USMS voluntarily, the companies were given the opportunity to object to the disclosure of their documents. Neither Comcast nor Cox objected (perhaps because their price lists were already public), while both Verizon and Yahoo! objected to the disclosure.

I am sure all the major providers are guilty of this. Regardless, I am curious to see if 911 operators are lumped into those requests. Many of them may be dispatch trying to find someone's cell phone from an accident or someone in trouble.

Re:Not just Sprint (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288758)

That was my initial thought, too.

Hopefully, more details will be released.

Re:Not just Sprint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288760)

The location comes in with the call, it's called e911, and it's basically a pumped up version of caller id. This is pretty much universal, though maybe not if you're really out in the sticks.

Mindsplosion - This is "cell phone", not "GPS" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30288498)

A GPS does not transmit. It only receives.

It does not even transmit a little tiny bit, not even like 'not really transmitting because isn't so little'. Or even transmit that it's not transmitting at all, like a "Hello, I am here, just ignore me". It is silent like the death of the grave from sunup to sundown.

Cell phones transmit, though.

So you can safely carry around a GPS without being tracked, but a Nokia 2100 would make you blip.

Legislate with Your Wallet (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288538)

I think because of Paul Taylors attitude " and I just don't know how we'll handle the millions and millions of requests that are going to come in."
Most smart people will gravitate toward other service providers rather than become a statistic picked up by cops just 'cause they're cops and they wanted to."
When the industry picks up that we want more privacy then we'll get it. Or else.

Surveillance or 911 data? (1)

ArbitraryDescriptor (1257752) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288632)

I imagine they pull your GPS location if you call 911 and, given the issues with 911 handling on a cellphone, I'd be pleased to hear that they did. Is this 8 million incidents of the police trying to locate a suspect, or 8 million incidents of a 911 dispatcher reacting to a "Oh my god there's blood everywher~..."

I appreciate it could be a little of both, and I am displeased if the police have been given unfettered access to this data for non-emergencies, but I'm witholding my outrage until I get some context on this one.

numbers? (1)

zerointeger (1587877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288680)

So if America's population is currently 305 million...

305million / 8million = 38.125

38.125 / 30days = 1.27

How wide spread is this application? One state? Two states? Is it limited to federal? I would like to know the stats on this during Bush's reign...

Amanda Seyfried/Julianne Moore love scene? Check! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 4 years ago | (#30288692)

Wait, wut?

So this happened: Government: Would you provide us an interface to check up on GPS locations without warrants?

Version: Sure.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...