FRIHOSTFORUMSSEARCHFAQTOSBLOGSCOMPETITIONS
You are invited to Log in or Register a free Frihost Account!


If you want any privacy, don't use a cell phone





jmi256
This really bothers me. I don’t agree with the stance that Americans can’t expect privacy when it comes to their phones and location. I understand the argument that it helps catch criminals, but I think it could be misused too easily. It's one thing if the police suspect criminal acts and go before a judge with some proof to get a wiretapping warrant, but this seems like something completely different.

Quote:
Feds push for tracking cell phones

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. 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.

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.

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.

"This is a critical question for privacy in the 21st century," says Kevin Bankston, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who will be arguing on Friday. "If the courts do side with the government, that means that everywhere we go, in the real world and online, will be an open book to the government unprotected by the Fourth Amendment."

Not long ago, the concept of tracking cell phones would have been the stuff of spy movies. In 1998's "Enemy of the State," Gene Hackman warned that the National Security Agency has "been in bed with the entire telecommunications industry since the '40s--they've infected everything." After a decade of appearances in "24" and "Live Free or Die Hard," location-tracking has become such a trope that it was satirized in a scene with Seth Rogen from "Pineapple Express" (2008).

Once a Hollywood plot, now 'commonplace'
Whether state and federal police have been paying attention to Hollywood, or whether it was the other way around, cell phone tracking has become a regular feature in criminal investigations. It comes in two forms: police obtaining retrospective data kept by mobile providers for their own billing purposes that may not be very detailed, or prospective data that reveals the minute-by-minute location of a handset or mobile device.

Obtaining location details is now "commonplace," says Al Gidari, a partner in the Seattle offices of Perkins Coie who represents wireless carriers. "It's in every pen register order these days."

Gidari says that the Third Circuit case could have a significant impact on police investigations within the court's jurisdiction, namely Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania; it could be persuasive beyond those states. But, he cautions, "if the privacy groups win, the case won't be over. It will certainly be appealed."

CNET was the first to report on prospective tracking in a 2005 news article. In a subsequent Arizona case, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration tracked a tractor trailer with a drug shipment through a GPS-equipped Nextel phone owned by the suspect. Texas DEA agents have used cell site information in real time to locate a Chrysler 300M driving from Rio Grande City to a ranch about 50 miles away. Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile logs showing the location of mobile phones at the time calls became evidence in a Los Angeles murder trial.

And a mobile phone's fleeting connection with a remote cell tower operated by Edge Wireless is what led searchers to the family of the late James Kim, a CNET employee who died in the Oregon wilderness in 2006 after leaving a snowbound car to seek help.

The way tracking works is simple: mobile phones are miniature radio transmitters and receivers. A cellular tower knows the general direction of a mobile phone (many cell sites have three antennas pointing in different directions), and if the phone is talking to multiple towers, triangulation yields a rough location fix. With this method, accuracy depends in part on the density of cell sites.

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.

T-Mobile, for instance, uses a GSM technology called Uplink Time Difference of Arrival, or U-TDOA, which calculates a position based on precisely how long it takes signals to reach towers. A company called TruePosition, which provides U-TDOA services to T-Mobile, boasts of "accuracy to under 50 meters" that's available "for start-of-call, midcall, or when idle."

A 2008 court order to T-Mobile in a criminal investigation of a marriage fraud scheme, which was originally sealed and later made public, says: "T-Mobile shall disclose at such intervals and times as directed by (the Department of Homeland Security), latitude and longitude data that establishes the approximate positions of the Subject Wireless Telephone, by unobtrusively initiating a signal on its network that will enable it to determine the locations of the Subject Wireless Telephone."

'No reasonable expectation of privacy'
In the case that's before the Third Circuit on Friday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, said it needed historical (meaning stored, not future) phone location information because a set of suspects "use their wireless telephones to arrange meetings and transactions in furtherance of their drug trafficking activities."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Lenihan in Pennsylvania denied the Justice Department's attempt to obtain stored location data without a search warrant; prosecutors had invoked a different legal procedure. Lenihan's ruling, in effect, would require police to obtain a search warrant based on probable cause--a more privacy-protective standard.

Lenihan's opinion (PDF)--which, in an unusual show of solidarity, was signed by four other magistrate judges--noted that location information can reveal sensitive information such as health treatments, financial difficulties, marital counseling, and extra-marital affairs.

In its appeal to the Third Circuit, the Justice Department claims that Lenihan's opinion "contains, and relies upon, numerous errors" and should be overruled. In addition to a search warrant not being necessary, prosecutors said, because location "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."

The Obama administration is not alone in making this argument. U.S. District Judge William Pauley, a Clinton appointee in New York, wrote in a 2009 opinion that a defendant in a drug trafficking case, Jose Navas, "did not have a legitimate expectation of privacy in the cell phone" location. That's because Navas only used the cell phone "on public thoroughfares en route from California to New York" and "if Navas intended to keep the cell phone's location private, he simply could have turned it off."

(Most cases have involved the ground rules for tracking cell phone users prospectively, and judges have disagreed over what legal rules apply. Only a minority has sided with the Justice Department, however.)

Cellular providers tend not to retain moment-by-moment logs of when each mobile device contacts the tower, in part because there's no business reason to store the data, and in part because the storage costs would be prohibitive. They do, however, keep records of what tower is in use when a call is initiated or answered--and those records are generally stored for six months to a year, depending on the company.

Verizon Wireless keeps "phone records including cell site location for 12 months," Drew Arena, Verizon's vice president and associate general counsel for law enforcement compliance, said at a federal task force meeting in Washington, D.C. last week. Arena said the company keeps "phone bills without cell site location for seven years," and stores SMS text messages for only a very brief time.

Gidari, the Seattle attorney, said that wireless carriers have recently extended how long they store this information. "Prior to a year or two ago when location-based services became more common, if it were 30 days it would be surprising," he said.

The ACLU, EFF, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and University of San Francisco law professor Susan Freiwald argue that the wording of the federal privacy law in question allows judges to require the level of proof required for a search warrant "before authorizing the disclosure of particularly novel or invasive types of information." In addition, they say, Americans do not "knowingly expose their location information and thereby surrender Fourth Amendment protection whenever they turn on or use their cell phones."

"The biggest issue at stake is whether or not courts are going to accept the government's minimal view of what is protected by the Fourth Amendment," says EFF's Bankston. "The government is arguing that based on precedents from the 1970s, any record held by a third party about us, no matter how invasively collected, is not protected by the Fourth Amendment."

Source = http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10451518-38.html
Afaceinthematrix
I have mixed feelings about this whole situation. I am glad that it is used wisely and catches criminals. The only thing that bothers me is that it can lead to abuse. In reality, the feds do not have the time to ease-drop on personal conversations just for the hell of it nor would most care to do so. Do they really care about the conversation I just had on my cell phones about Hausdorff spaces and why the diagonal is closed as a subset of the product topology? I think not. It's not like they're bored on the job and so they're just tapping into random people's phone conversations and finding out whose going to a party tonight...

They're looking for keywords and trying to use those keywords to catch legitimate criminals. They're using phone records on known/highly suspected criminals to secure evidence. What they're ultimately doing is for the good of the general public. That's a positive side that I see in this issue and it keeps me inclined to support this kind of activity.

However, I am worried slightly in that it gives people the possibility to do as I described above and ease drop on people's conversations just for the hell of it or because they're bored at work. The moment that ever happens, all privileges that the FBI/whatever has to do this would need to be instantly stripped and legislation promoting privacy would have to be passed... As long as this privilege is not abused, then I support it.
ocalhoun
Afaceinthematrix wrote:

However, I am worried slightly in that it gives people the possibility to do as I described above and ease drop on people's conversations just for the hell of it or because they're bored at work.


For analog cell phones, anybody with a radio that's tunable to the proper frequency can listen in- Part of my electronics class did this as a demonstration: Find the signal with a spectrum analyzer, tune a radio to pick it up, connect the radio to a speaker, and viola: listening in on a cell phone conversation.

Digital cell phones are only slightly more difficult: you have to add a digital-to-analog converter in before the speaker. (Not as difficult as it sounds, because usable digital-to-analog converters are included in every modern cell phone.)


If you're really worried about privacy, the best thing is to only talk in person, in noisy environments or known 'bug'-free areas. If using phones or the internet is a must, do so only when using encryption, or speak in code. Using hard-to-trace connections (pay phones, cash-paid pre-pay-cell-phones, public access internet computers) is a plus.
deanhills
I would have thought that any savvy person who does not want anyone to listen to a given phone conversation, or does not want to be tracked down, would know that cell phones are quite easy to listen into and can be turned into a tracking system with the right kind of equipment. If a phone has to be used, a public phone would be a better option, and preferably not the same one every time.
jmi256
deanhills wrote:
I would have thought that any savvy person who does not want anyone to listen to a given phone conversation, or does not want to be tracked down, would know that cell phones are quite easy to listen into and can be turned into a tracking system with the right kind of equipment. If a phone has to be used, a public phone would be a better option, and preferably not the same one every time.


But should we be forced to resort to such measures to maintain some type of privacy? As a proponent of individual rights, I would argue that the federal government's new policy goes beyond the scope of the Patriot Act. From my understanding of that act, it was intended to 'streamline' the warrant process (basically allowed law enforcement to bypass warrants or get warrants after the fact if needed due to timing or immediate threats). This new policy by Obama, however, says that warrants are simply not needed. Big Brother can listen in whenever he wants and also use your cell phone to track where you are even when you aren't talking on the phone. The feds may not have the technical capability to track everyone at all times right now, but with the pace of technical advancement and some good logic/programming, it's not a far stretch to suggest that they could collect this data and mine through it to find 'suspicious' activity. I know that seems alarmist, but given the government's tendency to grow, not shrink, and Obama search for even larger government control and power, this doesn't seem far-fetched to me.
ocalhoun
jmi256 wrote:
and Obama search for even larger government control and power, this doesn't seem far-fetched to me.

(And if Obama doesn't abuse such power, the next one might... eventually, someone will abuse it.)

But, even if the government doesn't have this power, the private telecom companies might choose to use it for their own ends...

And even if they are legally prohibited from doing so, someone might go outside the law and do so anyway.

If you have something that really does need to be kept private, "They're not allowed to tap in" isn't good enough. "It's technologically impossible (or extremely difficult) for them to tap in" is the better choice.
deanhills
jmi256 wrote:
deanhills wrote:
I would have thought that any savvy person who does not want anyone to listen to a given phone conversation, or does not want to be tracked down, would know that cell phones are quite easy to listen into and can be turned into a tracking system with the right kind of equipment. If a phone has to be used, a public phone would be a better option, and preferably not the same one every time.


But should we be forced to resort to such measures to maintain some type of privacy? As a proponent of individual rights, I would argue that the federal government's new policy goes beyond the scope of the Patriot Act. From my understanding of that act, it was intended to 'streamline' the warrant process (basically allowed law enforcement to bypass warrants or get warrants after the fact if needed due to timing or immediate threats). This new policy by Obama, however, says that warrants are simply not needed. Big Brother can listen in whenever he wants and also use your cell phone to track where you are even when you aren't talking on the phone. The feds may not have the technical capability to track everyone at all times right now, but with the pace of technical advancement and some good logic/programming, it's not a far stretch to suggest that they could collect this data and mine through it to find 'suspicious' activity. I know that seems alarmist, but given the government's tendency to grow, not shrink, and Obama search for even larger government control and power, this doesn't seem far-fetched to me.
Probably legislation like that would be superfluous, as Ocalhoun pointed out, private enterprise can do it anyway, especially with regard to commercial espionage. They would do whatever is publicly doable. If your private detective can listen in, why can't big brother do the same? If people would like to protect themselves from this kind of "detection" and using it in a court of law, the legislation would need to be universally applied in the opposite. I.e. there should be a ban on everyone listening into other people's phone calls, and also a ban against using "eavesdropped conversations" as evidence in a court of law.
andy26
this is the exact kind of reason i've built this online service http://encryptoemail.com it securley encrypts your emails over the internet so they cant be opened by non password holders, i've made it even more secure by not holding passwords and having it so you dont need to sign up.
Bikerman
I'm astonished that anyone is astonished. The US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada (AUSCANZUKUS) developed this interception capability decades ago. There are occasional articles in the professional computer journals about it and it is a really badly kept secret. Basically you are talking about a system called 'Echelon' - and it can do much more than track cell-phones and email. Echelon is the state of the art in spying. it can basically intercept and interpret any switched data that goes through main switching hubs - fax, email, cell-phone, land-line, and bigger stuff like inter-satellite traffic.
This is all well known and pretty well documented (The EEC did a report on it about 10 years ago after it was blabbed yet again by some journo or author).

Even Wiki has a bit on it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echelon_%28signals_intelligence%29

PS - I should also say that I'm not a conspiracy theorist, believer in the illuminati, or other wakko, and this is not speculation or possibility - it is real and has been around for a donkey's age and I know (only remotely) one of the chaps who works on the most sensitive parts of it here in the UK. He is so tight lipped that I doubt he has any teeth - he would never open his mouth long enough to get a toothbrush in......but most IT contractors that I know have known about Echelon for ages, and it isn't exactly hard to get a general picture...
silverdown
...the land of the free is turning into the land of the monitored life!
silverdown
Well i can say the land of the FREE is slowly going to be the land of the monitored!
Bikerman
Yes, you can say it, but why say it twice in succession?
Related topics
Google, Yahoo! expand cell-phone options
Cell Phone Incident
My site for cell phone ringtones, wallpapers and softwares
Cell phone Batteries
What's your favourate Cell phone brand?
cell phone to sidekick
Link exchange - Moblie or Cell Phone related sites
Using GPS via Cell Phone
Our cell phone - our life and work
Buzzing sound from speakers when cell phone is about to ring
Software to transfer SMS from cell phone
Make a Web Page for a Cell phone
Driving while on cell phone.....
make game for cell phone (text based)
Reply to topic    Frihost Forum Index -> Lifestyle and News -> Politics

FRIHOST HOME | FAQ | TOS | ABOUT US | CONTACT US | SITE MAP
© 2005-2011 Frihost, forums powered by phpBB.