Is Uncle Sam peeking into your phone?


Just when you thought the kinder gentler Obama administration would end things like government intrusions into our phone calls there is a court case going on right now that could take us to a place we shouldn’t be. The key to this is to remember that every time your cell signal bounces off a new tower it essentially leaves behind a digital breadcrumb that allows investigators the ability to know where you were and when you were there.


The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing a case brought by federal lawyers seeking the legal authority for the police to demand cell phone location data without showing probable cause to a judge or magistrate.


According to The technology blog hilliconvalley, “The trial centers around an investigation last year by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF). The agency requested to tap suspects’ cell phone data to determine where a likely drug deal might occur, but a federal magistrate ruled it lacked sufficient warrant for the request.


Ultimately, the judge told the Justice Department it needed a search warrant to obtain those records, and that it had to satisfy strict tests of probable cause to gain access to information that court described as incredibly private. However, the Justice Department has since appealed that ruling, stressing users on cell phones have “no reasonable expectation of privacy.”


I don’t know about you, but when I’m carrying my phone or talking on my phone I do believe that I have an expectation of privacy. I pay for the phone and the service.

When it comes down to it the average citizen has very little ability to stop these things once they get moving but don’t be afraid to fire off an email or phone caller to your congressman.





This entry was posted on Friday, February 12th, 2010 at 6:00 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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2 Responses to “Is Uncle Sam peeking into your phone?”

  1. Phil Says:

    Having worked for Telco and cell companies for over 30 years as a tech, engineer and manager, there is a lot more I could tell you, but you really don’t want to know.

    February 11, 2010 4:00 AM PST
    Feds push for tracking cell phones
    by Declan McCullag

    Two years ago, when the FBI was stymied by a band of armed robbers known as the “Scarecrow Bandits” that had robbed more than 20 Texas banks, it came up with a novel method of locating the thieves.

    FBI agents obtained logs from mobile phone companies corresponding to what their cellular towers had recorded at the time of a dozen different bank robberies in the Dallas area. The voluminous records showed that two phones had made calls around the time of all 12 heists, and that those phones belonged to men named Tony Hewitt and Corey Duffey. A jury eventually convicted the duo of multiple bank robbery and weapons charges.

    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.;pop

  2. Phil Says:

    February 18, 2010 4:00 AM PST
    Police push for warrantless searches of cell phones
    by Declan McCulla

    When Christian Taylor stopped by the Sprint store in Daly City, Calif., last November, he was planning to buy around 30 BlackBerry handhelds.

    But a Sprint employee on the lookout for fraud grew suspicious about the address and other details relating to Taylor’s company, “Hype Univercity,” and called the police. Taylor was arrested on charges of felony identity fraud, his car was impounded, and his iPhone was confiscated and searched by police without a warrant.

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