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Judge Nixes Warrantless Cell Phone Location Data

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the feds-can't-be-that-lazy dept.

Privacy 66

Front page first-timer poena.dare writes "The government sought warrantless access to 113 days of location data for a Verizon Wireless customer. On Monday, a judge refused the request (PDF), ruling that cell phone users have an expectation of privacy in location information. 'There is no meaningful Fourth Amendment distinction between content and other forms of information, the disclosure of which to the Government would be equally intrusive and reveal information society values as private,' said Judge Nicholas Garaufis. Privacy advocates in DC will be cheering as soon as they climb out from under their desks!"

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66 comments

FIRST BITCHSLAP! (4)

IonOtter (629215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185480)

May there be many more!

Yay Judge Garaufis!

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (5, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185816)

Celebrations are hardly warranted here.

This was one judge who made a correct decision and refused. However, Obama screwed us all over when he did not follow through on one his campaign promises when he let the carriers off the hook, and everyone else involved, in the warrantless surveillance of US Citizens.

Verizon Wireless refused in this instance... but what should be far more concerning is that Verizon Wireless actually has 113 days of location data. It did NOT specify which days those were either. So far all we know, there is a Verizon Wireless database that can be used to see everywhere we have been and predict our behavior. Not to mention, also figure out what businsesses and people are at those locations at the same time.

Basically, if you are afraid of Google indexing everything on the web and just taking pictures from the road, having Verizon Wireless being able to construct a complete profile of you based on your locations and cross-referencing other databases should be a startling revelation.

I knew that with the e911 laws they had to isolate you within 100 meters right now (I think, different phases had different requirements), but I was not under the impression that Verizon Wireless would store data that massive. For what purpose could they possibly need historical positioning data?

It's not anonymous data, or data that has been made anonymous, because the Feds are requesting specifics, so no demographics and usage bullshit will explain this.

I would think everybody needs to wake up and at least realize the big picture here.

Facebook, Google, Twitter, your ISP, and your wireless carrier can apparently be used to strip away all privacy, not just from you, but from everyone.

So even if I don't participate and shut off the wireless phone, or go to a pre-paid with a forward so that I cannot be reliably tracked, I still need to recognize that you walking into my home creates a record that a relationship of some kind exists between us.

Sure, call me paranoid. However, has it not been demonstrated in the past that if the tools are available, they will be used? Hoover and many other governments have proved it already.

This is not a victory.

A victory will be when it is illegal, punishable by prison terms, for any wireless carrier to record positioning data.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185872)

For what purpose could they possibly need historical positioning data?

It's not anonymous data, or data that has been made anonymous, because the Feds are requesting specifics, so no demographics and usage bullshit will explain this.

Need? They don't need it. But it's information with potential value, and also having it keeps the feds liking them, so they hang onto it.

Note that even if there's fourth amendment protection, that doesn't mean there's constitutional protection to prevent them from selling it to the highest bidder. There may be legal protections, but it's a lot easier for a telecom lobby and a buyer lobby (say, insurance) to re-write the law than it is for them to re-write the constitution.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37187014)

They could use (and do use) historical positioning data to locate missing persons. Amusingly, it is frustratingly difficult to get this info from the carriers, yet they seem to do whatever they can to help on government "terrorist" tracking.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188184)

They aren't keeping this data for the feds. They are keeping it to sell to Google for more precisely targeted ads.

And your specific location data will be anonymized by deleting the last digit of your phone number.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188502)

If it is anonymized as you say it is, then how can the Feds request specific data for a specific account?

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188516)

They jus ask for the data for all phones with the same first digit as the one they want

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

Anonymous Crobar (1143477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37189440)

I'm not sure how it is done where you work, but this information - location and usage - is not anonymized when you order it from the carriers with a subpoena (at least in New York). In our office, we use this data all the time to defend against auto accident litigants. (Hint: The plaintiff always swears he was not on the phone at the time of the accident.) Regardless, the stuff we get is never anonymized.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#37200788)

So 10 possible suspects?

Whatever evidence is directly gathered from those records is inadmissible in court. I think I can certainly reasonably doubt the person's phone was at a certain place and time when the defense points out that it only means 1 of 10 possible people was there and not the defendant for certain.

What about the rights of the 9 other people? Their privacy was invaded, and admittedly and quite obviously, they were not suspects and did not deserve to be under surveillance, or have their privacy breached. That is regardless of what is accomplished.

The ends don't justify the means here.

It is either anonymized, or it isn't. If it is, then no useful data can be found and any attempts as you suggest greatly compound the violations in principle.

Those other 9 people certainly have the 4th violated and can sue for redress. Assuming, they ever even know about it in the first place. Given the Patriot Act behavior in the last decade, I certainly doubt anybody is being informed about it after the fact.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37201966)

No. If your phone number is for example, 980-976-5555, they send out all the location data for every phone with the number 980-9xx-xxxx.

It's because several of those people will be either (or both) child molesters or terrorists. Or they'll vote independent.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#37202024)

You know... tonight I figured out that if I twisted the right nipple counter clockwise 5 times... then let go... I could fart every single time. I mean every time. It's like The Matrix and I figured out a software bug. 100% of the time. 149 times I flipped heads.

Now.. I know your thinking what the fuck is this guy smoking?

That is how I felt reading your post.

Thank You, and I hope I returned the favor.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37196158)

Wireless carriers use location data for 911. If you are in a car crash and you need to call for help, do you want to go through some complicated process of turning on the phone's ability to relay it's position when you dial 911? Someone will suggest, "Turn it on when I dial 911." Hey, 911 does not exist everywhere in the US, nor does every 911 answering center have the same technologies; they are all in a constant state of "upgrade", if they have the money. Also, that 911 center might not be in the same geographic area as you. And then there is the "tinhat crowd" that would want to get into the phone to turn off 911 to prevent tracking. Doubt that will happen as it's hard-coded in a phone's OS. All of this is very, very true.

Wireless carriers collection phone location information for customer service. Ever called the carrier to complain about dropped calls? When you describe the location where the dropped call took place, odds are some technical type (not on the phone) can review the progress of that call to the point where it dropped to determine what actually happened. Did the call drop due to RF issues, command from the mobile switching system, or the far-end dropped it for some reason.

Wireless carriers collection phone location information "by accident". When you turn on your phone it announces itself to the network. That is recorded as a cell tower and switching office location. If the carrier had to process an inbound call to the cell phone, they need to know which office and tower to direct that call. Doh! All phones maintain a type of "paging channel" with the carrier; a means of periodically telling the carrier's system where the phone is (cell tower and switching office). Without that "paging feature" cell phones would only be useful for outbound calls.

As for the Feds, yes, I agree that asking for 100+ days of cell phone location information is going too far. I read the PDF file from the Court. It actually makes sense. Also, I agree that it's only 1 judge, but sometimes that is enough to start the uproar.

Why doesn't the Slashdot community start an uproar over local, state, and US government proposals to tax our cars "by the mile". I hear some places in Europe are trying to do that. What kind of information will be collected? What if I only drive my vehicle around my very large ranch (farm)? Lots of questions to ask in that case, and it can definitely open other US 4th Amendment issues.

Geolocation Profiles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185968)

So even if I don't participate and shut off the wireless phone, or go to a pre-paid with a forward so that I cannot be reliably tracked, I still need to recognize that you walking into my home creates a record that a relationship of some kind exists between us. Sure, call me paranoid. However, has it not been demonstrated in the past that if the tools are available, they will be used? Hoover and many other governments have proved it already.

I knew there was tracking of geolocation of cell phone locations (see the South Korea lawsuit against Apple), but I had not previously thought of using that information to track relationships between people.

So, if someone broke into my house over the weekend, and didn't leave any forensic evidence (for whatever reason), I could just have the DA subpoena the local cell carriers for the names of everyone who was within range of my house over the time period, and run down the list of suspects from there? Excellent!

Need a list of people participating in a *pfft* Free Speech Zone protest? Take pictures of the crowd, run them through your facial recognition software, correlate with cell phone tracking data, add names to the database.

For additional fun, borrow your friend's cell phone and tape it underneath a vehicle in a "high crime" area. Tada, association with criminal elements. It's too easy.

Highway workers put those little rubber hoses across lanes of traffic to measure average speed and vehicle density at various times. Why not just get the cell phone people to hand over the tracking data of that area as a secondary data source? It would have people, not vehicle types (passenger car, tractor trailer, etc.), but could be useful tracking usage by financial strata or business purpose.

Excuse me, someone's knocking on my friend's Mom's basement door...

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

dmitrygr (736758) | more than 2 years ago | (#37186148)

"The advent of technology collecting cell-site-location records has made continuous surveillance of a vast portion of the American populace possible: a level of Governmental intrusion previously inconceivable. It is natural for Fourth Amendment doctrine to evolve to meet these changes." - Judge Garaufis

"The fiction that the vast majority of the American population consents to warrantless government access to the records of a significant share of their movements by "choosing" to carry a cell phone must be rejected. In light of drastic developments in technology, the Fourth Amendment doctrine must evolve to preserve cell-phone user's reasonable expectation of privacy in cumulative cell-site-location records." - Judge Garaufis

"While the government's monitoring of our thoughts may be the archetypical Orwellian intrusion, the government's surveillance of our movements over a considerable time period through new technologies, such as the collection of cell-site-location records, without the protections of the Fourth Amendment, puts our country far closer to Oceania than our Constitution permits. It is time that the courts begin to address whether revolutionary changes in technology require changes to existing Fourth Amendment doctrine. Here, the court concludes only that existing Fourth Amendment doctrine must be interpreted so as to afford constitutional protection to the cumulative cell-site-location records requested here. For the foregoing reasons the Government's motion for orders pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Â 2703(c){l) and (d) is DENIED." - Judge Garaufis

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187536)

While the government's monitoring of our thoughts may be the archetypical Orwellian intrusion,

The really sad thing is that, while that judge seemingly had a well rounded education, many schools no longer even consider teaching with Orwell's 1984. Presumably this is because the governments have decided teaching critical thinking about liberty is likely to lead to thought crimes. In another generation or so we'll very likely begin to have judges who have no such frame of reference and therefore have no clue as to the potential danger to society such contrary rulings may impose.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

IonOtter (629215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37186186)

A victory will be when it is illegal, punishable by prison terms, for any wireless carrier to record positioning data.

It has never been thus, but this is a step towards the goal. Learn to take pleasure in the small things, or you'll never reach your goal alive.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 2 years ago | (#37186360)

Yeah! We won this battle but not the war. Sure. I'm still PLEASED AS PUNCH!

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#37200892)

Don't get me wrong. This is progress. I am just pointing out that I had no idea a wireless carrier was storing positional data on me for such a long time period. It's why I surf anonymously and use Google through a proxy. I refuse to be monitored in cyberspace, and you can greatly mitigate their ability to do so.

I neither desire or will accept my actions being monitored and analyzed in meatspace either. I am an adult, not a criminal, and have given the government no legal reason to watch me, and I don't consent to being watched by corporations either.

Knowing this now has only pushed me to get rid of my Blackberry and go to pre-paid phones purchased with cash and use my VOIP systems to roam anonymously on the carrier networks. Once I do that, the best you can do is pinpoint the data center where I route the calls. Certainly, it will take far more effort then some data mining to figure out where I have been. Real-time intercepts will be even more hilarious, since I am actually in the technical contact loop.

Ever since all the bullshit with the banks, I cut up all my credit cards and live on cash only. I won't lie. It has been an adjustment. However, I am now actually living within my means, and I have found out what that actually IS.

So as much as this is progress, I was just trying to put in context of the bigger picture. Specifically, the state of our Privacy and Anonymity in this chaotic transition to a 4 dimensional world. That is an accurate description. It might was well be a spatial dimension. Cyberspace can affect you, without you even interacting in it, and you can affect it without even knowing it. If you think of radio waves and how ubiquitous they are, you could even say the dimension has aquatic qualities :)

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (0)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37186344)

If you want privacy, don't broadcast wireless information over public land. Try turning off your cell phone, it really works.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37186472)

If you want privacy, don't broadcast wireless information over public land. Try turning off your cell phone, it really works.

If you want privacy, don't send email over public networks. Try turning off your computer, it really works.
If you want privacy, don't send letters via the public postal service. Try putting down your pen, it really works.
If you want privacy, don't ever go out in public. Try staying in your house with the shades closed all the time, it really works.

Alternatively, stop being an idiot and realize that the situation is more nuanced than a ridiculous false dichotomy clumsily disguised as Brutally Honest Common Sense(TM) would suggest.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37186780)

The third option is on life support and could be declared dead any day now. They have these vans going on public streets scanning everything for fun and profit.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37186892)

No it doesn't. Some handsets can't be completely turned off. Take the battery out or use a foil bag.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187248)

No it doesn't. Some handsets can't be completely turned off. Take the battery out or use a foil bag.

This.

I will go so far as to say that most phones can not be completely turned off - and that's the way its been for at least a decade. And as you say, either pull the battery or put it in a shielded container (which will drain your battery really quick as your phone starts transmitting at max power trying to contact a cell tower).

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37189126)

tape a piece of plastic to the inside of the phone that can be raised to cover the battery contacts. that way you don't need a carrying case for your battery to avoid shorting the terminals.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37186480)

A victory will be when it is illegal, punishable by prison terms, for any wireless carrier to record positioning data.

a real victory is when we see the lawbreakers actually GO to prison and be punished.

making things illegal is not enough. there needs to be teeth behind it or it won't matter.

if ceo's have a chance of truly suffering due to their lawlessness, things will change. until then, they'll dodge.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187764)

The only useful function I can conceive of for storing positional data long-term is for network analysis: Despite all the bitching and moaning that folks do about cellular services in general, it's no accident that it works as well as it does. Having some historical data available will make an engineer's job easier at improving things further.

The privacy advocate in me says that such data, while useful, should have sufficiently large granularity that individual activities can't be discovered, but the engineer in me says that it's impossible to have too much data available when troubleshooting or planning: Everything is potentially useful.

At the same time, the armchair cryptographer in me says that there's no way at all to sufficiently anonymize the data while retaining useful long-term results for individual devices (so the engineers can do their job better) without also having giant gaping holes in that paper-thin veil of anonymity, so it's impossible to cryptographically satisfy both privacy and engineering concerns.

I, therefore, don't opine that it's right or wrong for VZW to hold onto that stuff for a good long while. And, no, I don't think 113 days is too long from the perspective of an engineer. I do think that the court has no business requesting this data ex-post-facto, however (though I do feel that they've every right and responsibility to issue a warrant for the collection of it, and have law enforcement monitor that data during the effective duration of that warrant as long so long as it is of limited time and not retroactive).

The scholar in me says that this all conspires to mean that I feel that the data is above subpoena, which is impossible, but the voter in me doesn't give a fuck about scholarly law: I just want what's right.

Meanwhile, I submit that the data itself is likely to be pretty terse. Verizon's answer to E911's location data requirements was not to use cellular triangulation, but to incorporate GPS receivers into every handset and to disallow new activation of handsets which do not have GPS. And as the GPS radio is generally only activated (and detailed position collected) when performing an E911 call, it's not going to be a very detailed log of position even in the best case.

So instead of a continuous log of location data within 100 meters, they've only got a vague idea of where the handset is: They know which sector of which tower site you're connected to, along with signal strengths in both directions, and might have similar data for other near(ish) sites (though I doubt it: that's more of a GSM trick). This may be good enough to triangulate a very coarse position history, but by no means would it reliably pin it down to 100 meters -- especially indoors or anywhere remotely near large buildings.

More likely, it's just barely good enough to tell what section of a town you're in, and to reproduce a general route of travel when mobile. That's still enough data to be incriminating, depending on the case, but it's not at all as if VZW is harboring detailed location data on everyone: The tech isn't there for it.

My personal experience closely observing several different E911 dispatch centers in operation also bears this out: Even with all of the super-priority that emergency calls like 911 have had on every cellular network since the dawn of time (a 911 call ALWAYS goes through as long as there's signal, no matter what, even if someone else's non-emergency call is immediately dropped to make room for it), the dispatcher's CAD screen generally first pins the caller's location down directly on top of the cellular tower they're connected to. *Eventually*, if the call lasts long enough, it begins to show more detailed information, but that seems to take however long a GPS fix happens to take on [random handset] in [random place]...

(Other carriers, like AT&T, do have different tricks up their sleeves. But I'm deep in Verizon country, myself, so that's about all I've been able to directly observe, and conveniently enough that seems to be the context of TFA. I lack the knowledge and experience to guess at how other carriers behave.)

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (0)

theArtificial (613980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187984)

I've had a few this evening so please pardon me if this has been addressed. I find many of your points valid however there is a strong argument for one of your points:

A victory will be when it is illegal, punishable by prison terms, for any wireless carrier to record positioning data.

It's my understanding that cell phones use cell towers to relay messages, and many of these towers are operated by third parties in addition to the company. These third parties charge respective carriers for use. This is useful for many things otherwise how are you able to bill someone without knowing which user is receiving service? How do the messages get back to your phone if they don't know which tower you're connected to? It's like saying the server you're connected to shouldn't keep logs of people (or companies) who use their service which they charge for - what happens when you need to dispute a bill? I probably could've worded this better. I think for a good estimate of how long things are retained look no further than how long you're able to retrieve your statements from a carrier. Perhaps someone from the industry will shed more light on this.

Facebook, Google, Twitter, your ISP, and your wireless carrier can apparently be used to strip away all privacy, not just from you, but from everyone.

I don't like being tracked any more than the other guy, but honestly if it's private information why is it provided freely, willingly, and broadcast by users on these social sites? I hate to be a rules guy but for crying out loud the terms and conditions agreed to might shed some light on what makes the service a "free" service. Agreeing to something you've not read (or even understand) isn't smart. Is that a wise move with a mortgage? How about when financing a car!? If you're getting a service or item for free there is a catch and it's irresponsible to assume otherwise. This situation is like a blogger who is upset when someone else comes across one of their posts. If it's indeed private information keep it to yourself! A social network promotes sharing information, much like the ping from a phone to a tower to receive service.

"I can keep a secret but the people I tell can't" sums up the privacy argument.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#37201022)

It's my understanding that cell phones use cell towers to relay messages, and many of these towers are operated by third parties in addition to the company. These third parties charge respective carriers for use. This is useful for many things otherwise how are you able to bill someone without knowing which user is receiving service? How do the messages get back to your phone if they don't know which tower you're connected to? It's like saying the server you're connected to shouldn't keep logs of people (or companies) who use their service which they charge for - what happens when you need to dispute a bill? I probably could've worded this better. I think for a good estimate of how long things are retained look no further than how long you're able to retrieve your statements from a carrier. Perhaps someone from the industry will shed more light on this.

They don't need positional data to do that. That is like saying we need to tag each TCP/IP packet with geo-location data to know how to do "something". We don't. Everything required for billing is in the header, and more specifically, how the header causes the packet to "move".

As for the billing part, that is pretty gosh darn simple. As far as TCP/IP is concerned, that is peering and transit agreements. When something leaves the infrastructure of one carrier and has to go to another, there are legal agreements on what can be charged. Peering is two networks side by side. Transit is network A communicating to network C through network B. Do a traceroute to your favorite website and you can see the handoffs. For instance, from where I am right now, I can see my packets going through Charter then being handed off to the XO network before arriving at a website. They know how to bill all of that, without even knowing where my system is physically.

Wireless has plenty of "tags" and "headers" for it to bill correctly. Wireless carriers have something pretty similar to peering and transit agreements. When you are roaming and connect to a tower it knows that you are not a customer. That is based on the data you are sending. It determines who it needs to bill before it even connects you, otherwise it would not allow the communication. Nothing in that process requires GPS positioning data, or triangulation data to be stored.

Another poster mentioned the PSAP (Public Safety Access Point) not actually using GPS data yet, but getting a gradually more refined position as the call progresses. Even in that instance, historical data is not needed by the carrier. The PSAP can record it as part of the 911 call data to be used later if needed in civil court or by law enforcement.

You bring up some technical questions, and some interesting ones, but I don't see anything that you pointed out that still requires positional data.

I don't like being tracked any more than the other guy, but honestly if it's private information why is it provided freely, willingly, and broadcast by users on these social sites? I hate to be a rules guy but for crying out loud the terms and conditions agreed to might shed some light on what makes the service a "free" service. Agreeing to something you've not read (or even understand) isn't smart. Is that a wise move with a mortgage? How about when financing a car!? If you're getting a service or item for free there is a catch and it's irresponsible to assume otherwise. This situation is like a blogger who is upset when someone else comes across one of their posts. If it's indeed private information keep it to yourself! A social network promotes sharing information, much like the ping from a phone to a tower to receive service.

"I can keep a secret but the people I tell can't" sums up the privacy argument.

That's a whole different argument here. I agree with you in principle, but unless you are a lawyer and have the time to read 250 pages, it is pretty hard to fully comprehend a TOS. That is why privacy statements should be simple, then explained further.

My response is simple. I don't participate in any social media and I block all the Google analytic requests on my networks, and any DoubleClick like shenanigans as well. I don't agree with their terms and don't use their service.

That being said, it is not prominent enough, or stated clearly enough that Verizon Wireless is recording your positional data for at least 133 days. I would not agree to it, and I am now looking into alternatives.

I agree with the gist of your argument, and I think that is that we have to be responsible for ourselves and if we don't like it, then stop the behavior. I intend to do so.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

theArtificial (613980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37220946)

They don't need positional data to do that. That is like saying we need to tag each TCP/IP packet with geo-location data to know how to do "something". We don't. Everything required for billing is in the header, and more specifically, how the header causes the packet to "move". ...

Wireless has plenty of "tags" and "headers" for it to bill correctly. Wireless carriers have something pretty similar to peering and transit agreements. When you are roaming and connect to a tower it knows that you are not a customer. That is based on the data you are sending. It determines who it needs to bill before it even connects you, otherwise it would not allow the communication. Nothing in that process requires GPS positioning data, or triangulation data to be stored.

Thanks for the clarification.

That's a whole different argument here. I agree with you in principle, but unless you are a lawyer and have the time to read 250 pages, it is pretty hard to fully comprehend a TOS. That is why privacy statements should be simple, then explained further.

Absolutely, the TOS should be aimed at their intended customers (lay persons) with privacy set to "fail safe" as in remain private.

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37189378)

well im glad i have sprint! except for the service is terrible

Re:FIRST BITCHSLAP! (1)

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Big Whoop (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185548)

AT&T was funneling network traffic directly to the Feds and walked Scot free for capitulating. Unless there are lock tight rules for suiting the s**t out of corporations that violate our privacy, a judge's "stern rebuke" means jack squat to me.

Re:Big Whoop (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185720)

Lock tight rules for suing corporations?

You are joking, right? The law provides EXACTLY the opposite [cornell.edu]:

(e) No Cause of Action Against a Provider Disclosing Information Under This Chapter.— No cause of action shall lie in any court against any provider of wire or electronic communication service, its officers, employees, agents, or other specified persons for providing information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with the terms of a court order, warrant, subpoena, statutory authorization, or certification under this chapter.

In the present case, they had two choices, seek a warrant, or notify the subscriber in advance if they used any lesser means (court order, administrative subpoena, etc). They apparently tried tor the lesser means and got denied. You wonder why they just didn't go for the warrant, since the criteria are almost exactly the same.

This was a telemarketing fraud case apparently, because that's all that 18 U.S.C. 2703(c)(l), (d) deals with.

Re:Big Whoop (1)

xenobyte (446878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188992)

Telemarketing?

Why in the world would they need location data for that? - Whatever crime happened on the phone lines.

If they wanted to know whether the suspect physically visited a certain location (the source of the calls perhaps?), they could ask for a list of times the suspect was in that area. This way his privacy isn't violated outside what is part of the investigation itself. Law enforcement cannot reasonably expect to be able to (ab)use location data to lead them to any co-conspirators; that would be making the telco part of the investigative process which is a violation of several laws. They just need to show the suspect being somewhere at a certain time in order to punch holes in an alibi. Well, and show that his phone was with him and not just left in a car driven by someone else, but that's a different matter...

Re:Big Whoop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185834)

If you can't support a decision that aligns with your implicit viewpoint,what's wrong with you? Take a win when you get one because nobody cares about people who bitch about things because it's not perfect. I'm assuming you're older than 2, apologies if you're not.

Crawl out? (2)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185560)

Let me explain something about D.C. They didn't crawl, they sprinted.

5 minutes after the all clear was given to get back in the buildings, everyone was heading home to "make sure the kids/pets were safe". Instead of the normal traffic mess at 4:30 p.m., it started at 2:20 p.m..

And if hurricane Irene passes anywhere this side of Bermuda, look for D.C. to be a ghost town as people "telecommute".

Re:Crawl out? (1)

fiatpirate (2445398) | more than 2 years ago | (#37192986)

It's Wednesday today, I may do the same :-). Wait, I'm not from DC, I guess I will have to continue to work, just like a normal person.

Re:Crawl out? (1)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37193166)

I guess I will have to continue to work, just like a normal person.

Right. Which is it, then? Minesweeper, Solitaire or something on Facebook? :-)

Location data (4, Funny)

md65536 (670240) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185622)

"Privacy advocates in DC will be cheering as soon as they climb out from under their desks!"

in DC... under their desks...

WHY would you rile privacy advocates by going and posting their locations?

Re:Location data (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185752)

No really!

"Privacy advocates will be cheering - and here is a PDF of their current locations, expected future locations, and good sniper shot dat plus political weaknesses."

SOoCS (2)

GarretSidzaka (1417217) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185652)

this is the first time in a while that I cheered for a judge. They can really suprise you sometimes

Re:SOoCS (4, Informative)

e9th (652576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187378)

This particular judge is an interesting guy. He is reported to have sentenced a woman to indefinite jury duty [foxnews.com] for answering the question, "name the three people you least admire," with "African-Americans, Hispanics and Haitians."

Finally (1)

nani popoki (594111) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185654)

a geniuine outbreak of commonsense! Just because it's digital bits doesn't mean you can throw the Constitution in the trash. Bravo!

Get a warrant! Follow due process! No more excuses about it being somehow a "new" paradigm.

From the opinion: (3, Informative)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185732)

The implication of these facts is that cellular service providers have records of the
geographic location of almost every American at almost every time of day and night. And under
current statutes and law enforcement practices, these records can be obtained without a search
warrant and its requisite showing of probable cause.

What does this mean for ordinary Americans? That at all times, our physical movements
are being monitored and recorded, and once the Government can make a showing of less-thanprobable-
cause, it may obtain these records of our movements, study the map our lives, and learn
the many things we reveal about ourselves through our physical presence.

...

[opinion quotes a dissent by judge Kozinski] "The Supreme Court in Knotts expressly left open whether twentyfour
hour surveillance of any citizen of this country by means of dragnet-type law enforcement
practices violates the Fourth Amendment's guarantee of personal privacy. When requests for
cell phone location information have become so numerous that the telephone company must
develop a self-service website so that law enforcement agents can retrieve user data from the
comfort of their desks, we can safely say that such dragnet-type law enforcement practices are
already in use. This is precisely the wrong time ... to say that the Fourth Amendment has no
role to play in mediating the voracious appetites oflaw enforcement."

...

The Maynard court noted two important distinctions between the short-term surveillance
in Knotts and the prolonged surveillance at issue in Mavnard. First, the court concluded that
while the individual in Katz did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy over his location
while traveling from one place to another, the individual in Mavnard had a reasonable
expectation of privacy over the totality of his movements over the course of a month. The court
reasoned that the totality of one's movements over an extended time period is not actually
exposed to the public "because the likelihood a stranger would observe all those movements is
not just remote, it is essentially nil." Mavnard, 615 F.3d at 560. Second, the court concluded
that people have an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the totality of their
movements over an extended period because an individual's privacy interests in the totality of
his movements far exceeds any privacy interest in a single public trip from one place to another.

...

there are circumstances in which the legal interest
being protected from government intrusion trumps any actual belief that it will remain private.
In such cases, society's recognition of a particular privacy right as important swallows the
discrete articulation of Fourth Amendment doctrine in Smith [indicating information conveyed to third parties is no longer protected by the Fourth Amendment] As addressed below, the court
concludes that the "normative inquiry" envisioned in Smith is required here, and it preserves the
reasonable expectation of privacy in cumulative cell-site-location records.

Why all the "front page first-timer" stuff? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185862)

There's been a lot of such notices recently. Are we supposed to care? Are they better now than the unpublished heathens they were before the post in question?

Seems to have picked up around the time "Unknown Lamer" showed up, though maybe that's just a coincidence.

Wait, what? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37186154)

They were requesting "warantless" something from a Judge? If you're involving the Judge, get the warrant. Or were they trying to get a warrant and the article is being stupid and trying to call it warrantless?

Re:Wait, what? (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37186808)

Searches of stuff that you have an expectation of privacy for require warrants which require the Cops prove to the judge they have probable cause. cf 4th Amendment. Apparently they don't have it.

So they are trying for a judicial order (doesn't require probable cause) under the Stored Communication Act.

The judge says nope - the SCA is overridden by the 4th Amendment (praise the Founders!) because this request asks for 113 days of cell tower location data. That's broad enough to be considered a search.

I hope it sticks. This crap regarding any electronic data being fair game has to stop.

Once Again: Falsify (2)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37186414)

Earlier today I made a reference to "cookie camouflage", and got a very apt response about a program which runs in background as a browser. In this case, the solution would also be software - not software that blocks, but GPS etc. software which submits camouflage (false) data. http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2393464&cid=37178870 [slashdot.org] The thread identifies a legitimate attempt at camouflage strategy http://news.cnet.com/8301-13880_3-9950126-68.html [cnet.com]

The point is that people's tolerance level to COMPLAIN about something is much lower than their tolerance level to DO SOMETHING.

Re:Once Again: Falsify (1)

pacinpm (631330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188444)

Cell phones can be located even if they have no builtin GPS. You are always connected to at least one cell tower. It's enough to find your location within 100m. Not as good as GPS but probably good enough for cops to say you were in a vicinity of crimescene.

Re:Once Again: Falsify (1)

Wymsey (952708) | more than 2 years ago | (#37188658)

Keep your phone switched off until you need to make a call, off all night. You may need counseling but you will appear saner and safer for it.

Tracking cell phone locations in real-time (3, Informative)

Laerien (92580) | more than 2 years ago | (#37186644)

Gov't has been tracking cell phone locations without a warrant for years. There are quite a few cases on the books, and they represent only a tiny portion of those that are requested and denied. Check out this law review 'recent development' article [heinonline.org] from 2006, back when they were first doing this.

Under their desks? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37187258)

Privacy advocates in DC will be cheering as soon as they climb out from under their desks!

That's where their GPS says they are. In fact, that's just where they toss their phones when they want to go off the grid.

earthquake safety? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37189726)

I thought we were supposed to stand in doorways for earthquakes and hide under desks for nuclear attacks...

This ruling sets a powerful precedent. (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37192104)

That precedent is: "The judiciary will not always roll over and give 'law enforcement/national security actors' trolling licenses in company-held private databases."

The lesson that community learned is: "Since the courts may say 'no', we just have to stop asking permission."

There are plenty of ways to secure back-door and under-the-table access to the data they want. None of those risk the embarrassment and delay of some judge kicking over the traces and mistakenly deciding the Constitution matters. Any of this which somehow comes to public notice will be smoothed over after the fact, legitimized by retroactive fiat, or settled with selective sacrifices of low-level peons who will be painted as "acting outside of their authority" although they were acting entirely within their off-the-record orders.

Ultimately, there's nothing to see here.

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