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Feds Push For Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the unless-you-are-in-favor-of-child-abduction dept.

Privacy 400

An anonymous reader writes "An article at CNET is reporting on the Obama administration's push for warrantless tracking of the location of cell phones (Verizon Wireless stores location data for one year, for instance). The Justice Department says no warrant is necessary: 'Because wireless carriers regularly generate and retain the records at issue, and because these records provide only a very general indication of a user's whereabouts at certain times in the past, the requested cell-site records do not implicate a Fourth Amendment privacy interest.'"

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Yeah, that's ok.... (2, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102466)

I guess I didn't really need a cell phone anyway.

Re:Yeah, that's ok.... (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103114)

I have a cell phone. It's a Tracfone and it sits on my desk at home.

We use it when we go out of town on trips sometimes.

Well, in fairness (4, Funny)

drDugan (219551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102472)

If you don't want anyone to know where you are, you shouldn't go there.

[[/TROLL]]

Re:Well, in fairness (2, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102502)

[[/TROLL]]

Don't be a wuss. Take your moderation like a man, even if you were joking.

Re:Well, in fairness (5, Insightful)

drDugan (219551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102646)

This argument, while never voiced due to its absurdity seems the most common rationale for removing privacy protections.

The comment not a joke at all. It was satire of the recent Google CEO comment: If you have something that you dont want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place, said Schmidt. You know, kind of like calling a failed politician, "Fucking Retarded" (you're brilliant, Stephen). See? Satire.

Re:Well, in fairness (5, Insightful)

venom85 (1399525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102624)

So then I assume you also would say that if I have nothing to hide, I shouldn't mind the police tearing my house apart looking for something that may or may not be there? If I have nothing to hide, I shouldn't mind being searched every time I enter or leave a building? I shouldn't mind being spied on at all times during my daily life? That's all ridiculous. Just because I don't want the Feds to know where I am every waking second doesn't mean I'm doing anything wrong. I just like my privacy, and they're interfering with that. It's not like it's anything new in this country (USA), but it's still wrong. Plain and simple.

Re:Well, in fairness (5, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102706)

Seeing as how the feds are not above blackmail, e.g. "Help us nail this guy or we'll tell your wife where you were last Saturday," I'd have to agree with you. The reason we require warrants is to attempt to prevent abuses of authority.

Re:Well, in fairness (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102732)

Wow, the guy even said "[[/TROLL]]" at the end and he still caught someone.

Re:Well, in fairness (1)

teeloo (766817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102722)

...or at least switch the phone off for god's sake.

Re:Well, in fairness (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102930)

Yeah, who needs their cellphone when they're on the go?

Highly Disturbing (1)

KharmaWidow (1504025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103570)

... Or don't allow them to track you. In this case use a pay as you go phone or steal someone else's. And take the battery out when not in use.

hope and change (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102504)

Still glad you voted for Obama, fucknuts?

Re:hope and change (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102688)

Hey, he is way more open about disregarding the Constitution and civil liberties.

Really? (5, Insightful)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102516)

This sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing for carriers to provide UPON BEING SERVED WITH A WARRANT!

Re:Really? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102642)

This is more evidence that B.O. is really George Bush III

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31103168)

What I want to know is what GB3 is doing in my armpit.

Re:Really? (0, Troll)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103328)

It shows you of the absurdity of people like those in the Tea Party movement. They're complaining about non-existent things like "concentration camps" and saying the government is gonna take your guns while this sort of this actually is happening.

Re:Really? (1, Interesting)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103412)

No kidding, the guy should be burned for weeks for aggravated treason.

This is for giving us hope, this is for taking it away...

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102656)

I don't get it, what was wrong with their post-it(tm) note approach? Not quick enough? Too much paperwork? Pesky paper-trail?

Re:Really? (2, Insightful)

Sir_Dill (218371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102700)

Mod Parent Up. Seriously, this argument could be said about ALL REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION. OBVIOUSLY its available, because when you get a warrant, they look it up and provide it. DUH.

Re:Really? (1)

ComputerGeek01 (1182793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102760)

I agree, isn't the warrent at least supposed to be served to the wireless carrier? They are not the government, you would think of all the things that big business butts heads with the Obamastation about they could stand up for us at least this once!

Where in the Constitution? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102784)

The question is not only a one of the 4th Amendment, one of GRANTED powers in the Constitution. But since the Supreme Court has eviscerated the Constitution via the Commerce Clause rulings no one seems to even ask "wasn't this a document of ENUMERATED powers, and where is this enumerated?"

Re:Where in the Constitution? (4, Interesting)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103078)

That's what I thought.

Now, I'm Canadian, so I'm not entirely versed in US Law (having learned most of it from Law and Order) but my understanding was:

The US Constitution is a list of things the Government is allowed to do. If it's not on the list, it's not okay.

Re:Where in the Constitution? (5, Informative)

ari_j (90255) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103250)

You are correct, as far as the federal government goes. The state governments were not similarly limited except where the Constitution says they were to be. That has always been open to interpretation by the courts, with bizarre results such as the things that explicitly refer to Congress being imputed to the states long before the things that are worded in outright "nobody can do this" terms were. Classic example: First Amendment says 'Congress' but has long been applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Second Amendment says 'shall not be infringed' by anyone, but is still up in the air.

The problem as far as the federal government goes is the commerce clause taken together with rational basis review. If Congress passes a law that says 'Whereas interstate commerce is affected by the lederhosen industry, all citizens are required to wear lederhosen on Tuesdays. Violation is a felony punishable by five years in federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison.', that's enough to say that they were exercising their power under the Interstate Commerce Clause. Rational basis review means that a court won't overturn a commerce clause-based law if there is any rational way that the law relates to interstate commerce. And that includes enforcement when the actual act had nothing to do with interstate commerce.

For instance, a federal law that fixes grain prices will result in subsistence farmers being punished for violating it. (True story.) A federal law that says machine guns affect interstate commerce can be used to punish you for building a machine gun out of scrap metal even if none of it ever crossed state lines. (True story.) There are very few exceptions where the Supreme Court (after FDR and the New Deal) has thrown out a law for overstepping the authority of Congress under the commerce clause.

Long story short: Congress is allowed to do anything it wants, because everything has some effect on interstate commerce.

Re:Where in the Constitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31103308)

Dear Canadian Person,
If you could forward those episodes of Law and Order to our government officials we would be greatly appreciative. If you can not please let me know and I will start recording a book on tape version of our Constitution to send their way.
Sincerely yours,
The American People

Re:Where in the Constitution? (3, Insightful)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103370)

That's correct but if they actually follow that, then the government is basically required to be tiny, and politicians can't really bribe the voters if the .gov is tiny so they ignore it.

Re:Really? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103318)

It's not though, unless they only obtain information for the specific suspect named in the warrant. Using mass cell phone data as some kind of suspect sieve is definitely not within the scope of the fourth amendment (there will necessarily be thousands of records obtained for people who are not suspects and never will be) but is also a very dangerous investigative tactic: there can be both false positives and false negatives.

That data doesn't belong to the phone companies, and even if it did, the phone companies would almost certainly not be legitimate targets of a bank robbery investigation.

Hope and Change, eh? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102522)

So this comes with the same provisions for government officials, right? After all, the Obama administration was touting "transparency" when coming into office. Oh wait, by that, they meant everything the PEOPLE do has to be transparent to the GOVERNMENT. I guarantee if this were Bush wanting something similar, the left would be screaming bloody murder at the mere THOUGHT of it. $10 says Obama gets a free pass for being the "Savior of America", and because anyone who disagrees is now not only unpatriotic, but racist as well.

How the hell is this clown still allowed to remain in office? Oh wait, good thing I'm not in South Carolina. Otherwise I might have to register as a subversive group....

"Hope and Change", my ass. Same shit, different day.

Re:Hope and Change, eh? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31103008)

Yes, that's right Obamabots. Mod me down to oblivion rather than refuting anything I just said with reason or fact. Revel in your belief that Comrade Obamachrist is doing this out of the utmost love and concern for your well being, and would never allow this to be misused. Turn a blind eye to the fact the very transgressions you so loudly decried from the street corners during the previous administration are now being visited upon you with your full blessing and support. Take comfort and solace in the bosom of your precious leader as you anoint him protector and savior. Remember that the words of Benjamin Franklin you so readily quoted during the reign of Bush also apply to Obama as well. Remember them well as I speak them here:
br> "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Continue to delude yourselves that your perceived salvation is nothing more than the same thing you've railed against for the past eight years. Or you can wake up to the fact that Obama is nothing but a wolf in sheep's clothing who is even more dangerous due to his blind idealism and thinking he knows what's best for us all simply because he holds the highest office in the land.

THINK before you vote, next time, because THIS is where blind support and voting for buzzwords gets us. Bush 2.0 with a socialist agenda...

Re:Hope and Change, eh? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31103254)

Bad troll is bad. Fail less bro.

Re:Hope and Change, eh? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103618)

I think it's more the lack of awareness that people seem to be pretty upset about this regardless of whether it's Bush or Obama.

It looks like the majority of comments here are about how this is a violation of fundamental rights.

Re:Hope and Change, eh? (5, Insightful)

Malk-a-mite (134774) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103190)

Anonymous Troll writes:
"I guarantee if this were Bush wanting something similar, the left would be screaming bloody murder at the mere THOUGHT of it. "

... reading fundamentals works for me.

FTFA:
"Those claims have alarmed the ACLU and other civil liberties groups, which have opposed the Justice Department's request and plan to tell the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia that Americans' privacy deserves more protection and judicial oversight than what the administration has proposed. "

Gasp! Shock! Amazement!
People who don't like something under one administration - might also not like it under another!

The more things "Change"... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102532)

...the more they stay the same.

What happened to warrants? (1)

acalltoreason (1732266) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102546)

Even though they "keep and retain" those records, that's still data owned by the company, in this case Verizon. Don't they need a warrant or subpoena to look at that data? It's just like Google refusing to give out user data.

Re:What happened to warrants? (5, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102636)

They only need a warrant if the data owner demands one before compliance. The thing is, the large telecoms are lapdogs to the federal government. They need the government's blessing to make a profit so are all to willing to turn over your records upon request.

Re:What happened to warrants? (2)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103068)

They need the government's blessing to make a profit so are all to willing to turn over your records upon request.

I think the "to make a profit" part might be a stretch. Maybe it's not always the case, but I seem to hear a lot about the high profit margins for cell phone companies and ISPs (which does exclude traditional phone and TV, so maybe they are having harder times). I think part of it is they want to be able to keep their fake competition and continue exploitation of the consumer, and playing nice with the FBI is one way to help that.

Re:What happened to warrants? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102650)

And why do you think they are keeping that data? Could it be because the Justice Department made an unofficial request to do so? The claim that Verizon just happens to be keeping the data around so it should be fair game, sounds awfully suspicious.

Re:What happened to warrants? (1)

sp1nz (1336673) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103306)

Quite possibly they could use it for billing/roaming disputes... but I'd like to hear them justify keeping it longer than 6 months. Much past that time frame, and you get into lapdog territory.

But what about the spirit? (5, Insightful)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102586)

What about the spirit of the 4th amendment? Sure, it may not violate the amendment as it's worded, but was that the intent of it when it was put in?

We're getting into very precarious situations here. With technology advancing, we're pushing the letter of the law as far as it can go, even when it isn't really applicable. Don't forget, the Constitution was written over 200 years ago. We need to stop looking how the letter of the laws apply to today's world, and start looking into the spirit of the laws.

Re:But what about the spirit? (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102816)

Sounds great until you get to the bill of rights, particularly: #1,#2,#4,#5, ....

Many of these are single sentences, and still there are people that read them in completely different ways. See right to bear arms, and the argument of is it not an individual right. I mean does anyone out there really think it means that the government has the right to have guns? That concept would be so insane in the 19th century that no one would think to write it down.

Re:But what about the spirit? (4, Insightful)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102950)

Well, to understand #2, you have to understand the times. It was written right after the revolutionary war. A war where the people banded together to fight against their government... They used militias as organized fighting units. So, after the war, they put #2 in there to make sure that people always had the right to form their own militia and fight back against their government if they deemed it tyranical or for any other reason. That's the only way #2 would make sense in the context of how and where it was written. And the fact that it was put as the 2nd amendment (right under the freedom of speech) shows how important they felt it was.

Sure, it's my interpretation, but it's an educated interpretation based on why I think someone would have written it in the 1880's...

Re:But what about the spirit? (2, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103500)

My take on it in a more contemporary way is that we are allowed to have guns so that we can assassinate political leaders. Now obviously if one assassinates a political leader you would be charged with murder or treason or just plain dead.

Why is that my take on it? Well, we aren't exactly allowed to have any weapons that would be effective at fighting the US military so its not like we can exactly revolt. Since the second amendment was put specifically for revolt then assassination would be the modern approach.

This take on it though supports the US restricting military grade weapons, whether that be assault rifles or artillery. All one needs is a good hunting rifle and a good scope, I doubt those two things are ever going to be outlawed.

Not too worried about not going AC on this, its not the first time I have posted this.

Re:But what about the spirit? (0)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102980)

Or the argument that the amendment was written to ensure that every citizen had the right to own a breech-loading musket, which I strongly support, while not written to ensure that every citizen had the right to own any and all types of weapons every made (up to and including nuclear warheads).

The concept of such a weapon would be so insane in the 19th century that no one thought to write it down, but I'm quite certain that, were such weapons to exist back then, the amendment would have been written to clearly exclude them.

Re:But what about the spirit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31103176)

The breech-loading musket was the M16 of its day.

"The concept of such a weapon would be so insane in the 19th century that no one thought to write it down, but I'm quite certain that, were such weapons to exist back then, the amendment would have been written to clearly exclude them."
I think our forefathers would relate more with Islam extremists than our own government. I'm not so sure they would exclude them.

Re:But what about the spirit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31103198)

Or it was written with the intent that the average citizen would have at his disposal the latest weapon the military had at the time. It did not say each citizen has the right to a musket, powder and a pile of lead, it just the right to bear arms. At the time they had muskets, mobile cannon, as well as merchant ships with enough firepower to over come a military fort and they were owned by citizens. I really think they did not put those limits in at the time because they wanted it that vague.

Re:But what about the spirit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31103294)

Or the argument that the amendment was written to ensure that every citizen had the right to own a hand set printing press, which I strongly support, while not written to ensure that every citizen had the right to own any and all types of transmission media every made (up to and including internet access).

The concept of such a technology would be so insane in the 19th century that no one thought to write it down, but I'm quite certain that, were such technologies to exist back then, the amendment would have been written to clearly exclude them.

Re:But what about the spirit? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103458)

I think you would be interested to know where artillery used in the revolution came from. To interpret "arms" as anything other than "any and all arms" just because you're afraid of people sane enough to acquire a massive enough fortune to acquire expensive, gigantic weapons but insane enough to actually do so and further insane enough to use them is to emasculate the constitution as a controlling document.

If you think the second (or any other) amendments, articles, or clauses should be more permissive of government than they ostensibly are (or more restrictive, also) the proper way to accomplish that goal is to propose additional amendments to the document using the framework the founders already provided for just such an act.

These powers have been used nearly twenty times since the bill of rights, so they should not be foreign to anyone. There is no need, nor is it desirable, to extend "elastic" clauses to let congresses just "do what I want."

Re:But what about the spirit? (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103492)

The general consensus that seemed to be reached in Heller, and which seems to be best supported in the historical evidence, falls somewhere in between.

The general intent is that weapons of the type typically carried by individual soldiers at the time in question are protected. This would the average rifle, shotgun, and handgun, but wouldn't cover heavy machine guns, rocket launchers, tanks, artillery, etc. It also covers advances in technology within the protected class (moving from smoothbore muzzleloaders to lever-action repeaters to gas-operated autoloaders, for example), but stays within the categories of "things the average soldier carries and uses on his own" and "things we could reasonably expect people to muster with on their own".

Re:But what about the spirit? (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103664)

Well, by that notion, where are my hand grenades, C4 and tracer/incendiary rounds?

Re:But what about the spirit? (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103216)

user@darkstar:~$ links -dump http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.billofrights.html [cornell.edu] | grep "the people"
or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to
the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
or to the people.

Why is it that one of these "the peoples" isn't considered to be The People?

The 2nd is there to provide an absolute last ditch attempt at preserving the freedom of The People. The English trying to limit the arms posessions of the colonists was one of the final sparks needed to start the revolutionary war. And yes, The People have revolted, as recently as 1946 (over voting issues - see the Battle of Athens, Tenn)

Re:But what about the spirit? (5, Insightful)

Thoreauly Nuts (1701246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102836)

What about the spirit of the 4th amendment? Sure, it may not violate the amendment as it's worded, but was that the intent of it when it was put in?

The American Constitution is dead. It's an outdated document that has been viciously exploited by the frauds who claim to represent us. What we need to do is to call a Constitutional Convention and rewrite the thing with a clearer and MUCH expanded Bill of Rights.

In fact, I think that such a convention should be mandatory about every 50 years and there should be very clear rules that each iteration must always err in favor of the rights of the people and never increase the power of government. In fact, it should be mandatory that any increases in power that have occurred in the interim be removed at each convention.

Turtles all the way down... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103564)

So, what you propose is to create not only a new constitution every fifty years, but also to maintain a meta-constitution to restrict even the creation of the fifty-year constitution?

Although I do like the "get everyone to agree on the terms by which they will consent to be governed every generation." idea.

Re:But what about the spirit? (5, Insightful)

AthleteMusicianNerd (1633805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103658)

It is not outdated. Politicians take an oath to uphold the constitution, but don't. They should be thrown in jail. There is no interpretation of it, it's very easy to read and understand. The Founding Fathers were well aware of the consequences of the actions we're taking in government now because they lived through it in Britain. That's why you hear quotes from very smart men such as Benjamin Franklin saying "If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both." We've seen that actually play out since Sept. 11th. Or other ones like "Remember that time is money." which also continues to hold true.
Just because there is new technology, does not change the ways laws should be enforced. A cell phone conversation is no different from a land line conversation which is no different from sending a letter. If you intercept a letter, it's a violation of privacy just as it would be to listen to someone's cell phone conversation. The government would like people to believe that there's a difference so they can continue on their malicious ways of fascism.

Re:But what about the spirit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102856)

Really? After Guantanomo? A prison camp established in blatant violation of the spirit of the constitution, that is regularly defended as being O.K. because it's not in violation of the letter?
Sorry, I don't see that happening anytime soon. You Americans are screwed.

Re:But what about the spirit? (1, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102894)

I'm not as USian but as an outside observer it seems to me you need a new amendment for the digital age to finally codify the limits on police powers that apply to modern technology.

If we've learnt anything so far, it's that you can't rely on those in charge to care about the spirit of the law.

Re:But what about the spirit? (4, Interesting)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103144)

This is true. We need an amendment that says -- and I think the more plain English the better -- something along the lines of: communication on the internet is protected in the same way any other communication is protected. It is not a new frontier, it is just another communications tool. For each new communications tool, all previous rights and privileges need necessarily still apply.

Well, something like that. It should be really broad and obvious. When in doubt, you have the right to say it. When in doubt, the government can't get it without a fucking warrant. Maybe it should just say that (sans fuck).

Re:But what about the spirit? (3, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103240)

Having read some of the comments below I'd suggest you go a step further and impose criminal penalties for any person or company that surrenders personal information to law enforcement without a warrant.

I may be wrong, but on our side of the pond one of the few cases where an employee can be held individually subject to criminal prosecution is a breach of the Data Protection Act.

With Enumerated powers ignored, what does anyone.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102968)

The Constitution WAS a document of enumerated powers for the Feds, but that has been ignored with the Commerce Clause rulings and ignoring the 9th and 10th Amendments, what does anyone expect?

Re:But what about the spirit? (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103128)

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

They've got everything else in place, they're just working on the "instantaneous retrieval by the authorities" part.

FYI, Zbigniew Brzezinski [wikipedia.org] was carter's national security advisor and co-founder of the trilateral commission.

When the speach becomes more complex (4, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103146)

you can bet they are violating the intent. As the government has expanded so has the explanation for everything they do. The write long winded justifications all so that by the time you get done reading it you forget what it was about. It almost as if they hope that people opposed will just throw up their hands and give up.

Remember, those who clutch to their Constitution are now the radicals.

Re:But what about the spirit? (3, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103218)

No normal government will ever tie their own hands. Right after a revolution - be it a war of independence or civil war - is the only time when people wronged by the government will sit in government and have the power to do anything about it. The rest of the time, claw into what you have and don't let go - it's not coming back.

Re:But what about the spirit? (5, Insightful)

unix1 (1667411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103508)

What about the spirit of the 4th amendment? Sure, it may not violate the amendment as it's worded, but was that the intent of it when it was put in?

But it DOES violate. From their own argument:

"a customer's Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records"

Just because there's a 3rd party (phone company) involved doesn't mean 4th amendment goes out the window. The 4th amendment doesn't have an asterisk that says "(*) doesn't apply when facilitated by a 3rd party." The right is there to protect people from government's abuse of power. The issue is what the government can and cannot do, regardless of whether they are able to hire/convince a 3rd party to do it for them.

In fact, if the above argument stands as is, we can freely plug in other variables in that statement:

a customer's Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when:

- phone company reveals to the government its own customer call detail records
- hotels reveal to the government their guest check-in/out records
- credit card companies reveal to the government their customer purchase records
- libraries reveal to the government their book lending records
- dry cleaners reveal to the government their customer records
- etc.

Where does it stop? And all this without a warrant or a probable cause? How does it not violate?

Is this GPS, or Tower data? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102594)

I have my phone to only give out GPS data on 911 calls. Is that what they are interested in? The exact location of people (within a hundred yards or whatever) without a warrant, or just which towers they pinged off of at a given time?

Re:Is this GPS, or Tower data? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102818)

E-911 regulations say that the tower data provided by the cell phone companies has to be within a certain level of accuracy, which I believe is something like 300 meters 95% of the time. But that is only what is required.

The actual difference in data acquired from GPS and tower triangulation where there is sufficient tower data is actually nil. Tower triangulation is accurate enough, enough of the time, as to have no difference from the GPS data.

If GPS data is protected, so should the tower data. If GPS data isn't protected, how is it not a violation of the 4th amendment?

Re:Is this GPS, or Tower data? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103296)

Actually.... I can't see the supreme court ruling that this holds water without overturning current precedent.

This is NOT DIFFERENT from the argument as to why IR cameras need a warrent. The technology has the potential to reveal personal information (the example used in the case was the heat signature indicitive of when you are in the shower, thus revealing when you shower to an outside observer) that the average person would think unreasonable for any person on the street to be able to divine about them. Its obvious that such information COULD be intrusive information.

As such, the court made NO attempt to differenciate amongst technologies that could or could not produce that level of detail. (thats important here, I think). Since technology advances and this technology could be used in that way, the court felt that it would be a violation of the 4th ammendment to allow it without a warrent.

This data has been demonstrated to be able to tell a persons location WITHIN THEIR OWN HOME. The very fact that it can, even in some limited circumstances, give off that information, it has to be assumed that it can, and thus, its certainly a 4th amendment violation.

Then again, the court can overturn precedent. Maybe we will lose other protections here too.

-Steve

Re:Is this GPS, or Tower data? (2, Insightful)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102994)

more than likely they are wanting the tower data - BUT depending on the phone - and the towers that may be "hey i was talking to him" or "hey the 3 of us where listening to him here is the strength so you can triangulate" or "yea that phone associated with me - here is it's header data - oh see the GPS info in it?" either way - you may have a phone that only allows GPS data on 911 calls - i bet there are ALOT of phones where that isn't an option - and ALOT more phones where people have no idea it is even in there. Most people have no idea about the e911 location information for emergency calls being added in after Sept.11th.. And if i remember correctly there was recently evidence that some carriers where having the location data on all the time not just for 911 by default. if they can get it past that they don't need a warrant - then what they find in the records would be on the same level as seeing something in plain sight. meaning that even if now it doesn't normally have GPS location - in 2 years it might be the norm.. and they already have a warrant waver.. as far as i'm concerned they should need a warrant to get it.

Re:Is this GPS, or Tower data? (4, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103046)

I know it's bad form to reply to your self but wanted to note this.. A warrant gives the police special access to a location or information, something not publicly available. If it goes through that they don't need a warrant then could we not use this as a stepping stone to justify any member of the public requesting the same information from the telecom's? not just for our selves but for any one.. it's just a different way of looking at it - and one that should commonly be viewed

Re:Is this GPS, or Tower data? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103592)

i bet there are ALOT of phones where that isn't an option - and ALOT more phones where people have no idea it is even in there.

Not to be the grammar/spelling police, but since you used it twice - IN ALL CAPS - please, Please, PLEASE be advised that "a lot" is two fucking words.

Good job on the the rest of your post though.

Auto-suspect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102704)

So, if someone gets shot or robbed, do they immediately question everyone who was near the closest cell phone tower at or near the time of the incident? Or can they use that to find possible witnesses?

Confusing title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31102708)

The title is confusing because "warrantless" in this case means "without a warrant" (Warrant being a glam metal band from the 80s), whereas "warrantless" is usually taken to mean "unjustified", which of course means to have a messy right border.

Re:Confusing title (2, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103108)

The title is confusing because "warrantless" in this case means "without a warrant" (Warrant being a glam metal band from the 80s), whereas

"warrantless" is usually taken to mean "unjustified",

Stop right there.

unwarranted having no justification, groundless

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

There's no need to split hairs. If the cops had grounds for a warrant, and could justify their reasoning to an independent magistrate, they would have a warrant. A warrantless search is an unwarranted search.

This is basic english, folks.

Yeah? (4, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102756)

And if you read the 10th amendment at face value, nowhere is there authorization for quite literally the majority of the federal government. The very existence and authority of most federal agencies relies on the **spirit** of the Constitution's enumerated powers, not the actual hard letter.

Therefore, they should be required to abide by the **spirit** of the 4th amendment.

So where's the Fed tracking web site? (4, Interesting)

Kenja (541830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102774)

If someone's general location is not protected by the 4th amendment, lets see a web site that shows the "general location" of all federal employees. Seems only fair.

Re:So where's the Fed tracking web site? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31103408)

Yep, if it's not protected as an unreasonable search, then let's make it ALL public via a FOIA request.

Step 1: Gov't get everyone's location data
Step 2: Public files FOIA request
Step 3: Public get everyone's location data
Step 4: Marketers link up data to individual
Step 5: Painfully targeted ads
Step 6: PROFIT!

(Oh wait, wasn't there supposed to be a ??? in there somewhere?)

Obama must first guarantee no abuse (2, Insightful)

kawabago (551139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102826)

Police resources are abused by police for their own purposes on a regular basis. An abusive spouse who is also a police officer would have unfettered access to information on the whereabouts of their victims. This scenario alone should be enough to can this proposal, but it probably won't be.

Re:Obama must first guarantee no abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31103102)

Ok lets for aguments sake say he does promise this. Do you trust future generations of politicos to do the right thing based on some promise of a president from 10 years ago?

Also your abusive police spouse thing HAPPENS. Ive seen it. Dude I know was dating a lady (who was divorced and had been for a couple of years). He got a call to his unlisted number in the middle of the night from the ex who was in iraq (they were divorced before he shipped out). How did he find out? His buddies called him and let him know. His BUDDIES were stalking her. This sort of thing he could do it remotely. Then call while he was there and make a big stink.

People seem to think stalkers think like them. They dont. They think 'what can I do to make sure I am the only one in the others life'. They will do *ANYTHING* to insure this.

Re:Obama must first guarantee no abuse (3, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103124)

Obama doesn't care. His administration flat-out says in the article that Americans enjoy no "reasonable expectation of privacy." Along with his defense of Bush wiretapping, it sure looks like we got the hope and change we were promised, eh?

Meet the new boss (2, Insightful)

esocid (946821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102852)

Same as the old boss. I'm getting sick of this constant push to roll back privacy. No matter what the government may say, 9/11 was the best thing to happen to give them such blanket authority.

Re:Meet the new boss (1)

calzones (890942) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103454)

MeetTheNewBoss should be a tag on here already

More to the point, (2, Interesting)

tombeard (126886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102906)

just WHY are they retaining this information in the first place?

Solution (2, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102922)

1) if the feds require the data retention, then a warrant is necessary to access the customer's information.
2a) if the feds do not require data retention, then a warrant is required to access the carrier's information.
2b) if the feds do not require data retention and there is not a reasonable business reason to retain the information, find a carrier that doesn't retain the information beyond what is needed for routine business use.

It's reasonable for businesses to keep statistical, summary information that cannot be traced back to a customer pretty much indefinitely, well, for years anyways. It's useful for planning and the like.

It's reasonable for businesses to keep billing data until the billing is finalized. This will normally be 60-90 days after the bill is paid unless they are subject to having the billing opened up at a later date and need the records to protect their interests.

Location data needs to be kept only for a few days until it is stripped of personal information UNLESS it is needed for billing, for example, off-network roaming, reconciling a bill with a 3rd party carrier, etc.

requires some hacking activism (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102924)

publish the whereabouts going back a year of some government officials. especially let the wife see some of the more interesting locations

sounds unfair? no, it's epitome of turnaround and fairness

of course, it won't stop the assholes from going after the hacker and claiming that a crime was committed. fucking hypocrites

Cell Phone Triangulation (1)

jamesyouwish (1738816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102936)

Wait I have seen what Google Maps does with cell phone triangulation and it has never been more than a couple of meters off. Then GPS kicks in. That is way to close.

Letter of the Law vs. Spirit of the Law (3, Interesting)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102954)

The government logic being used here reminds of the incredible leaps of logic my 4-yr makes to defend himself from punishment.

Is very simple, my location at any given moment of any given day is none of the government's business. You want to know, get a warrant. None of this loop-hole business. Makes me happy to not own a cell phone, since I am absolutely certain they are ALREADY tracking innocent citizens in this manner on a regular basis.

I thought Bush was the fascist (5, Insightful)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31102998)

Looks like the Obama administration is full of Hope and Change.

No way in hell, even under the patriot act that this is legal to do to US citizens.

Then again, Obama has little faith in the Constitution, he considers it a document of "negative liberty" (see his NPR interview) that unfortunately tells he and his government lots of stuff (like this) they aren't allowed to do.

Have a problem with this? (1, Troll)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103044)

Then vote republican...

Re:Have a problem with this? (3, Insightful)

navyjeff (900138) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103286)

Yeah, because Republicans have been the bastion of reason and protectors of constitutional rights and freedoms lately. Did you forget about the USA PATRIOT Act already? Warrantless wiretaps of the previous administration? Mindlessly and wantonly increasing airport security rules? Did you just crawl out of Vault 101?

Far be it from me to tell you who to vote for, but voting blindly for any one party only seems to make this mess worse.

Re:Have a problem with this? (5, Insightful)

oneTheory (1194569) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103614)

I'd mod you up if I could. Partisan hacks on both sides try to tell you that their party will do it right next time. Liars! No president or legislators from either party have reined in government powers in recent history.

I liken America to a child with 2 abusive parents. They each play off the other to win the child over then proceed to beat the crap out of them. Then the other parent comes to the child's rescue with candy and toys, telling them they'll be good to them, back and forth never changing their ways. Are we really this stupid?

Re:Have a problem with this? (1)

gfreeman (456642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103398)

Because a republican administration would never suspend part of the constitution?

Re:Have a problem with this? (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103686)

Thanks for being part of the precipitate.

There are more than two parties...

Shocked by Obama? This is who he is... (5, Insightful)

inthealpine (1337881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103148)

I'm sure everyone that hated Bush is OK with Obama doing this. After all he is a kinder genteeler constitution shredder... From the January 18, 2001, broadcast of the WBEZ's Odyssey program, "The Court and Civil Rights": "[...T]he Constitution is a charter of negative liberties -- says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf, and that hasn't shifted." http://mediamatters.org/research/200810280021 [mediamatters.org] The constitution was meant to restrict the government from taking more and more control. Obama's vision is a constitution that has limitless government so said government can 'do things on your behalf', as though the government knew best.

Re:Shocked by Obama? This is who he is... (-1, Troll)

kindbud (90044) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103546)

I'm sure everyone that hated Bush is OK with Obama doing this.

Fuck you, partisan shithead. We're not OK with it. Why would you use this as an opportunity to attack your peers instead of the Administration? This is what listening to AM radio does to you: turns you against the ones that should be your allies.

Re:Shocked by Obama? This is who he is... (2, Insightful)

goofyspouse (817551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103622)

I'm sure everyone that hated Bush is OK with Obama doing this.

Nope. I hate this sort of nonsense no matter who is doing it. Obama has a long ways to go to catch up the BushCo's level of shenanigans, but he seems intent on doing so.

Cell phone tower data (3, Interesting)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103158)

They must be talking about the location based on cell phone tower data. The GPS on my phone can locate me to within a couple of meters and using google I can create a freaky accurate maptrail of my location over a period of weeks.

Having said that, even just the cell tower method can locate me, often, to within 500 meters. To argue that this is too general to know my whereabouts at all times is absurd. I think the only way you could claim that location data is not a 4th Amendment violation is if it only tracked you at the state level. And even then it may be a violation. To argue that 500 meters is not enough resolution to infringein my right to unreasonable search is pretty crazy.

Re:Cell phone tower data (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103288)

In an urban environment, 500m may not be enough to pinpoint a location. In a rural environment (or some suburban environments), however, it may well be enough to give away your location. The larger the lot and less densely developed/populated the area, the more likely 500m will make a difference.

I do not have a cell phone... (1)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103232)

... and I never will.

Reason: I have quite a bit of training in radio and satellite communications, radio frequency radiation and the like.

I know what such radiation does to a body, short and long term.

As a result, I have an aversion to carrying a transmitter on my person.

And, it looks like, as an added bonus, "someones" will not be able to track me (or attempt to do so) by my non-existent cell phone.

Note: In an emergency, there are probably 20 people in a four square block area with cell phones (if not more).

This violates our WA State Constitution (2, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103440)

Unlike some other states, we have strong protections for privacy in our state, and you can't even install a GPS tracking device on a car here without a warrant, or enable that On*Star tracking feature without written permission from the vehicle owner.

Thus, anyone tracking cell phones in our state - except in federal waterways or on a federal base or in a federal park, would still need a warrant.

Anyone.

Including the feds.

Meet the new Boss! (1)

cs668 (89484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103530)

Same as the old boss!

I guess "The Who" had it right.

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