Via Talkleft, something I really don’t like:
Most Americans carry cellphones, but many may not know that government agencies can track their movements through the signals emanating from the handset.
In recent years, law enforcement officials have turned to cellular technology as a tool for easily and secretly monitoring the movements of suspects as they occur. But this kind of surveillance – which investigators have been able to conduct with easily obtained court orders – has now come under tougher legal scrutiny.
In the last four months, three federal judges have denied prosecutors the right to get cellphone tracking information from wireless companies without first showing “probable cause” to believe that a crime has been or is being committed. That is the same standard applied to requests for search warrants.
I have no problem with the government subpoenaing records to find out where an individual has been, but I do not like the idea of the government using cell phones to track people. Call me an alarmist, but I already don’t trust the power the authorities have already, and with the current crop of statists in Washington, it will be no time whatsoever before they are revising the Patriot Act to allow this kind of tracking without ever even having to go before a judge. Advocates are already laying the groundwork after several courts have decided to not allow this type of real-time tracking:
The recent rulings by the magistrates, who are appointed by a majority of the federal district judges in a given court, do not bind other courts. But they could significantly curtail access to cell location data if other jurisdictions adopt the same reasoning. (The government’s requests in the three cases, with their details, were sealed because they involve investigations still under way.)
“It can have a major negative impact,” said Clifford S. Fishman, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and a professor at the Catholic University of America’s law school in Washington. “If I’m on an investigation and I need to know where somebody is located who might be committing a crime, or, worse, might have a hostage, real-time knowledge of where this person is could be a matter of life or death.”
Ahh, the old ‘life or death’ scenario. Too bad he just couldn’t come out and say ‘ticking time bomb,’ because lord knows we will justify ANYTHING if there is a ticking time bomb involved.
No more. Not even in life or death cases. I love technology, but I do not like where this country is going. And I look silly in one of these.
I must be one of the only people in the counry that doesn’t have, or desires to have, a cell phone. My life is remarkably peaceful and friends, miraculously, are still able to contact me. :)
I agree that this kind of techonology is dangerous. Like the GPS in cars, or boats for that matter (commercial fishing family here), the application is very nice and handy and could be used for good, as in tracking missing people, but as with all advances, there are some in law enforcement, etc. that can’t resist stretching or simply ignoring the idea of privacy and freedom of movement.
Who was it that voluntarily had a chip put in his body?
The remarkable denizens of MIT have researched the efficacy of the Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie. Their results are published here. To summarize: the AFDB magnifies the effects of certain frequencies of radio waves, specifically those reserved for government use.
Meanwhile, turn that cell phone off, or slip it into the foil bag that comes with your EZ Pass.
If the government is stopped from tracking suspected terrorists by their real-time cellphone use, then the terrorists have won.
Battle Over Patriot Act Reauthorization Continues
Tell Your Senators to Block Bad Bill: Vote Against Cloture Motion
Many of you have written and called on this issue before and the temptation is to say, “I’ve already contacted my Senators and Representative.” The battle isn’t over though until the fat lady sings as they say. Its more urgent now than ever that you write again because the battle has not been won.
On Thursday, December 8, 2005, only 23 days before parts of the controversial USA Patriot Act were due to expire, some conferees reached an agreement on Patriot Act reauthorization that does nothing to protect the privacy of your personal records. Under the report, the FBI would still be able to gather your personal medical, financial, library, gun purchase and other records without absolutely any evidence linking your records to a suspected foreign terrorist.
Certain sections of this controversial law are due to expire December 31, 2005. Until recently, it appeared that lawmakers were moving toward adopting the modest checks on federal power contained in the Senate reauthorization bill (S.1389), which would require a connection to a suspected terrorist to obtain Americans’ records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. This reflected a commonsense compromise that was widely praised as a step in the right direction by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, representatives of the business community, civil liberties groups and – most importantly – the American public.
But then, at the eleventh hour and behind closed doors, some Patriot Act conferees bowed to pressure from the Administration and produced a completely unacceptable conference report. However, the conferees still have a chance to fix the problems in the report and adopt the Senate reforms by filibustering the bad bill and demanding that changes be made.
Take action now! Contact your Senators and urge them to reject this sham conference report and instead support a bill with meaningful changes to protect your constitutional freedoms! Tell your Senators to vote NO on cloture!
Send this message to everyone you know and tell them to act before its too late! Let Congress know that you are watching and will neither forget nor forgive their actions on this Act!
The Disenfranchised Voter
With each passing day we move further away from the ideals this country was founded on.
capelza, you are not alone. I don’t have a cell-phone.
The first reason was because I see no damn reason to let people have access to me every moment of the night and day, no matter where I am. (Esp. when I’m driving, which is Sacred Time, when I can belt out showtunes, shriek at other drivers, use semis as markers in a slalom course, and fear nothing but The Flashing Blue Lights of Doom.) I do have a landline phone. Sometimes I don’t answer that one, either :)
The Big Brother issue ensures I never will get one, now. I’ll also never buy one of those cars with the ever-so-helpful, built-in, anyone-can-follow-and-find-you GPS systems.
The problem with surveillance is, the technology has gotten so unobtrusive and ubiquitous, inserted into so many everyday devices, that the time is quickly coming that we won’t be able to opt out. I feel more and more like a Luddite every day, and it has nothing to do with disliking technology – I love technology – but with disliking being spied on.
I finished that Robinson book, 50 Degrees Below. He posits a logical extension of surveillance tech: people routinely getting chipped, without their knowledge and certainly without their consent, during medical treatment. Hey, we do it to pets; why not people, right? I don’t doubt for one moment that day’s a-coming.
MN Politics Guru
Not only has MIT studied the effects of the AFDB, but they also used cell phones to map a city.
Plus, we have the Missouri Department of Transportation’s plan to track traffic congestion by using cell phones.
What a world we live in.
Even worse – I thought I had read that they were working on a way to remotely activate a cell to use it as an eavesdropping device. I couldn’t find it in a quick search but I did find this that seems to indicate it is not currently possible.
The ticking time bomb scenario does occur in cases of kidnapping or home invasions or lost/diabled folks. Its not frivolous.
I agree here, to an extent. But like all good ideas it is open for rife abuse. Like the confiscation of property involved in drug raids. A very personal case involved a raid on a house I owned. Folks were arrested (though no evidence was found at the house) and I got a very nice letter informing me that I would be “allowed” to keep the property because I was “innocent”. All this before there was ever a trial, in fact there never was a trial, because it was found that a neighbour of the kids busted did not like them and had called the police with a false claim that they were making meth in the basement.
I have often wondered what would have happened if the police had determined that I wasn’t “innocent” and had confiscated said property. Before a trial. How much would it have cost me to get my property back, what kind of legal loopholes would I have had to jump through to retrieve it? I now live in that house, btw.
IF there was a way to avoid abuse, I’d have no problem. Sadly, that ain’t going to happen. It’s human nature.
If the government is allowed to track private citizens by their real-time cellphone use, then the terrorists have won.
Automatic alert: DougJ detectors have been activated.
Step to the REAR OF THE THREAD for your own protection …..
Thanks! Whoo, that was close!
i highly recommend checking out the mindguard linux link from the afdc site. hilarious!
I have a cell, but it’s never on. I just keep it in my glove compartment in case, seeing as I live in the boonies and want to be prepared in case the car breaks down, or if I hit a deer or something. It irks me when people yammer utter shite into their cellphones in public in a pathetic attempt to look like they are important.
the MIT study has already been called into question by the AFDB advocates, http://zapatopi.net/blog/?post=200511112730.afdb_effectiveness
Do those foil bags really work? :-)
[Seriously, I completely agree with John Cole. The march of technology will relatively soon make it possible for every communicating technological artifact, large or small, to be an agent of the State, and I see no significant political force fighting this trend. Vernor Vinge extrapolated it well in one of his novels, “Among the unsuspecting, they are an espionage miracle. Abused, they lead to ubiquitous law enforcement, and a quick end to civilization.”]
The cell phone tracking is a new law enforcement tool created with ………… The Patriot Acts.
Yeah, they are just great, aren’t they?
Americans are not the only people concerned. What do you think those radomes in Bad Aibling (near Munich) are doing? Google “Eschelon” and find the initial project technology.
Big Brother is tracking you by your CELL PHONE
THERES NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU TELEIVISION SET WE ARE CONTROLING TRANSMITION WE WILL CONTROL THE HORIZONTAL WE WILL CONTROL THE VERTICLE WE WILL ROLL THE PICTURE IF YOU LIKE WE CAN TURN IT UP LOUD OR TUNE IT TO A WHISPER WE CAN FOCUS IT TO A SOFT BLUR OR SHARPEN IT THE CRYSTAL CLEARETY FOR THE NEXT HOUR WE WILL TAKE YOU FROM THE INTER MOST MIND TO THE OUTER LIMITS