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You probably did not know this, but you have no reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to the government knowing your location when you use a cell phone - no messy Bill of Rights 4th Amendment warrents are necessary.  At least that is what the Federal government is arguing in court.

This may be more incideous that one would first imagine.  How do you feel about attending a protest against a Republican administration, where the government can record that you attended the protest, when you arrived, when you left and where did you go after the event.  With today's cheap computing, it is not difficult to track which protests or meetings you attend and of course where you live and work.  Tracking which other people go to the same events that you go to, is a well established technology to gain insight into which other people you associate with.

In a criminal case the Federal government is arguing that they have the power to track people without a warrent.

CNET NEWS: "Feds push for tracking cell phones"

In that case, the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in their--or at least their cell phones'--whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that "a customer's Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records" that show where a mobile device placed and received calls.

While the article refers to the government as the Obama adinistration, to my knowledge President Obama has not spoken on this issue.  The press needs to follow up with the Justice Deprtment and the White House to get them on the record as supporting or opposing this policy.

Even though police are tapping into the locations of mobile phones thousands of times a year, the legal ground rules remain unclear, and federal privacy laws written a generation ago are ambiguous at best. On Friday, the first federal appeals court to consider the topic will hear oral arguments (PDF) in a case that could establish new standards for locating wireless devices.

While some see this as the issue of telecom corporations needing to stand-up for our civil rights, I see not giving the Federal, State and local governemnt the power in the first place as the better approach.

Many here in this community would make a big issue of this if were being done by the Bush administration.  We need to equally oppose this even in the Obama administration that we strongly support.

Remember even if one believes the Obama administration would not use these powers against people like us - and may even use this power against the worst of the Tea Party activists, it is just a matter of time for the administration to change to a party that we don't trust.

Originally posted to nextstep on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:10 AM PST.

Poll

Should the government have the power to track your movement through your cell phone without a Warrent?

10%12 votes
84%94 votes
4%5 votes

| 111 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hell I can track your cell (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep, blueocean

    all I need is the number and some software.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:12:36 AM PST

    •  Don't you also need the data feeds (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kimball Cross

      from the carriers as well?

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:20:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

        because all new phones are GPS enabled about all I need is network access.
        Next I am not supposed to do it without your permission and the GPS tracking must be enabled on your phone.

        Simply put, tracking someone without their knowledge can get you in trouble. Typically, the subscriber must give permission and the cell phone must be enabled for tracking. Consult with your service providers for more detail.

        Like not having permission ever stopped anybody.

        Again, the tracking application on a cell phone typically must be enabled by the user. Depending on your equipment, the application may persist - remaining enabled when the phone is turned on after having been turned off. This feature is particularly handy if you do not want to instruct the person using the phone how to turn tracking on and off.

        In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

        by jsfox on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:31:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Oh really (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      UncleCharlie, Kimball Cross, nextstep

      Spill, MacGyver.

      YOU grab a mop. I'm gonna invent a car that runs on hate.

      by The Termite on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:22:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  BUT BUT BUT THE CSI DO IT (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite, UncleCharlie, nextstep

    THEREFORE IT IS OK BECAUSE I SAW IT ON THE TEEVEE

    /do I even have to state I'm snarking?

    BlackKos Tu/Fri. It could be worse for progressives. We could be in Port-au-Prince.

    by terrypinder on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:15:34 AM PST

  •  Chips in passports, cell phones, laptops & humans (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep

    a perfect set up for a police state to follow.  I suspect (CT) the shrub administration may have misused this power to disrupt any political opposition.

  •  Your tag "warrent" isn't of much use (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    UncleCharlie, nextstep

    Because it's mispelled.

    YM "warrant."

    YOU grab a mop. I'm gonna invent a car that runs on hate.

    by The Termite on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:23:14 AM PST

  •  The 1st trial in which this tech was used (10+ / 0-)

    The morning of the 2004 election, tires were slashed on the vans the Republicans had rented to move their Milwaukee supporters to the polls.

    A Virginia based operative ratted out the local kids he'd recruited for the job, including the sons of then Mayor Marvin Pratt and now Congresswoman Gwen Moore. Charged with misdemeanors, the defendants claimed alibis putting them on the South side. As impeachment testimony, the prosecution sought to introduce cellphone records placing 4 of the 5 on the north side, within a couple blocks of the Republican HQ. Those 4 switched their pleas to guilty. The 5th, who didn't own a cell phone, went ahead with the jury trial, and was acquitted.



    I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.

    by ben masel on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:24:41 AM PST

  •  bush did lay the precedent for this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep
  •  Their litigation posture doesn't surprise me. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep, DaNang65

    That's how these issues get worked out - in court.  

    FTR, here's fourth amendment expert Orin Kerr on this case.

  •  Congressional action? (5+ / 0-)

    I discussed the privacy implications of this technology with NY Congressman Nadler (Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties) in the  elevator at Netroots Nation last summer. He agreed it was worth at least a hearing, and likely new statutory privacy protections.

    This need not be a partisan issue.  I can see Republican Reps swayed by "Do you want the Justice Dept. to be able to extract a list of everyone who's been to the firing range in the last 6 months?"

    Subcommittee Members:
    Nadler
    Watt (NC)
    Scott (VA)
    Delahunt (MA)
    Johnson (GA)
    Baldwin (WI)
    Conyers (MI)
    Cohen (TN)
    Jackson Lee (TX)
    Chu (CA)

    Sensenbrenner (WI)
    Rooney (FL)
    King (IA)
    Franks (AZ)
    Gohmert (TX)
    Jordan (OH)



    I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.

    by ben masel on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:37:45 AM PST

  •  As a GIS professional, I have been (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep, blueocean

    contacted numerous times by local law enforcement  to map out the tower quads that cell phones utilize.  They use this to track calls made from suspect's cell phones, in an effort to refute alibis.  Its a good tool for case-building according to the detectives I have worked alongside.  But I want to point out that pin-point accuracy doesn't exist....the technology on the show "24" does not exist.....yet.  GPS can help pinpoint, but due to selective availability(we are at war remember) the error is larger.  They can interpolate your position using multiple towers in the same area, but aside from that, they can only tell what "1/3" of the tower's 360deg arc in which the phone is located.

    Just sayin

    Sic Gorgeamous Allos Subjectatos Nunc - Morticia Addams

    by Perdurabo on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:37:58 AM PST

  •  Thank God for the Constitution and the DOJ to (0+ / 0-)

    protect our rights . . . .

    "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by bobdevo on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:39:31 AM PST

  •  Risk in domestic violence too. (3+ / 0-)

    There've been a few instances in which batterers used the discovery process in child custody cases to subpoena location records, to further stalk their victims.

    The National Network to End Domestic Violence is also, therefore, interested in enacting Statutory limits on access to the tracking data.



    I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.

    by ben masel on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:45:57 AM PST

  •  And we thought Pres. Bush was bad.... (0+ / 0-)

    ANd he was... but what is our President Obama thinking?

  •  Action in the State Legislatures is possible too (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Daddy Bartholomew, nextstep

    to restrict State and local police from getting warrantless access. This would make the telcos more open to federal legislation, lest they be forced to retain attorneys specialized in dealing with each State's tracking laws.



    I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.

    by ben masel on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:54:59 AM PST

  •  Now, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep

    Would this then follow that people who have navigation systems in their cars, they could also be traced this way, right?  

    I never have my cell phone on..or only when absolutely necessary....does this not solve some of the problem, at least for me?  

    http://www.thehamandlegsshow.com

    •  For your Nav system (0+ / 0-)

      It does not broadcast its location except for special systems like OnStar.  

      For your cell phone, the tracking only works if the unit os on, but most all people try to have the phone on at all times.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 11:05:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  devil's advocate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep

    First, they are not tracking your location, just the location of a device that is registered to an individual.

    Second, is your physical location private information?  What is the precedent or logic?  Where could you be that, theoretically, someone could have physically observed you?

    •  Technology transforms privacy issues. (3+ / 0-)

      There are devices that translate the vibrations on the windows of your home that results from you speaking in your house - into audible sound. Would you argue that using such a device without a warrent is not a violation of 4th Amendment?  No wiretap, no physical entry.

      Much of our privacy comes from their beinging widely dispersed info about you that was previously difficult to assemble into something useful.

      The technology exists and is growing that most all of your privacy can be violated without violation of tradition views of privacy.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 11:12:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  not a lawyer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep

        This is just a matter of curiosity for me.
        The window thing, that is eavesdropping if they can determine what you are saying.
        That seems completely different from your physical location.  If someone can see you enter a building, I'm not sure a warrant should be necessary to determine that your phone is in that building.  Can you expect that a government agent doesn't know where you are if you traveled through public space to get there?
        The concept of collecting "widely dispersed info about you that was previously difficult to assemble into something useful" is the crux.  
        Has it been used to establish privacy rules before?

  •  Do you ever wonder whether or not this website (0+ / 0-)

    captures everything you put into the comment box AS YOU TYPE IT, or whether it politely shuts its eyes until you press "preview" or "Submit," allowing you to edit your work before capture and cancel profane or unwise vents?

    Their real God is money-- Jesus just drives the armored car, and his hat is made in China. © 2009 All Rights Reserved

    by oblomov on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 11:26:57 AM PST

  •  I'd like an option to use a non-CDMA phone. (0+ / 0-)

    Since that option doesn't exist, it would be nice if some enterprising individual would come up with a hack.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 11:33:05 AM PST

    •  What does that have to do with whether or not the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sceptical observer, nextstep

      system can be used to locate you?

      Their real God is money-- Jesus just drives the armored car, and his hat is made in China. © 2009 All Rights Reserved

      by oblomov on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 11:33:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I thought that CDMA was what allowed (0+ / 0-)

        GPS tracking. My old Alltel phone didn't have it but was grandfathered in. I was told that CDMA had been mandated and it was to allow for pinpointing location for 911, even for phones without GPS activated.

        "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

        by sceptical observer on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 12:30:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  From the diary link. (0+ / 0-)

          The Federal Communications Commission's "Enhanced 911" (E911) requirements allowed rough estimates to be transformed into precise coordinates. Wireless carriers using CDMA networks, such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel, tend to use embedded GPS technology to fulfill E911 requirements. AT&T and T-Mobile comply with E911 regulations using network-based technology that computes a phone's location using signal analysis and triangulation between towers.

          "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

          by sceptical observer on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 05:59:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  GPS devices on cars (4+ / 0-)

    Both the 9th Federal circuit, and a Wisconsin Appellate Court recently held no 4th Amendment violation occurred when police,anting without warrants, attached homing devices to the exterior of cars belonging to suspected marijuana dealers.

    The Wisconsin Assembly's Privacy Committee responded a week ago with unanimous passage of Assembly Bill 171 (as amended.)

    968.355  Application for an order for global positioning device.  
    (1)  The attorney general or a district attorney may make application for an order or an extension of an order under s. 968.365 authorizing or approving the installation and use of a global positioning device, in writing under oath or equivalent affirmation, to a circuit court for the county where the device is to be located.

    (2)  An application under sub. (1) shall include all of the following:
    (a)  The identity of the person making the application and the identity of the law enforcement agency conducting the investigation.
    (b)  A full and complete statement of the facts and circumstances relied upon
    by the applicant, to justify the applicant’s belief that an order should be issued or extended, including:
     1.  Details of the particular offense that the applicant has probable cause to
    believe has been, is being, or is about to be committed by the person who owns the vehicle to which the global positioning device is to be attached.

    1.  A certification by the applicant that the information likely to be obtained is

    relevant to the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by that agency.
    SECTION 3.  968.365 of the statutes is created to read:
    968.365  Issuance of an order for a global positioning device.  
    (1)  Upon
    an application made under s. 968.355, the court shall enter an ex parte order
    authorizing the installation and use of a global positioning device within the
    jurisdiction of the court if the court finds that the applicant has proved to the court that there is probable cause to believe that the person who owns the vehicle to which the global positioning device is to be attached has, is, or will commit an offense and that the applicant has certified to the court that the information likely to be obtained by the installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.

    (2)  An order issued under this section shall do all of the following:
     (a)  Specify the identity, if known, of the person who owns the vehicle to which the global positioning device is to be attached.
     (b)  Specify the identity, if known, of the person who is the subject of the criminal investigation.
    (c)  Specify, if known, the registration plate numbers and the color, make, model, and year of any motor vehicle to which the global positioning device is to be attached.
     (d)  Provide a statement of the offense to which the information likely to be
    obtained by the global positioning device relates.

    (3)  An order issued under this section shall authorize the installation and use of a global positioning device for a period not to exceed 60 days.

    (4)  Extensions of the order may be granted, but only upon an application for
    an order under s. 968.355 and upon the judicial finding required by sub. (1).  The period of extension shall be for a period not to exceed 60 days.

    (5)  An order authorizing or approving the installation and use of a global
    positioning device shall direct that the order be sealed until otherwise ordered by the court.

    (6)  Evidence obtained by placing a global positioning device on a vehicle in
    contravention of this section or of s. 940.315 may not be introduced in a criminal trial.



    I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.

    by ben masel on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 11:35:27 AM PST

  •  My understanding of Patriot Act... (0+ / 0-)

    ...is if FBI or whomever want to track you cell phone or bug your cp or ll they can but must have a warrant from powers that be within 48hrs or some time limit. If so couldn't they just do what they need to do and if nothing happens up to the time limit when they need warrant just drop the bug or tracking or whatever theyre doing? just saying

    Our nations quality of life is based on the rightousness of its people.

    by kalihikane on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 12:02:27 PM PST

    •  You're confusing PATRIOT and FISA. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens

      The FISA authority, while readily abused, is, in theory, limited to terrorism and foreign spying cases. This tracking authority, if upheld, will cover routine criminal investigations.



      I am not currently Licensed to Practice in this State.

      by ben masel on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 12:30:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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