DOJ says warrantless cell phone tracking should remain or law enforcement can be "crippled"

DOJ says warrantless cell phone tracking should remain or law enforcement can be "crippled"
The neverending battle between law enforcement and citizens' right to privacy, as outlined by the Fourth, is reaching crisis levels when it comes to cell phones. Not only can today's smartphones host a lot of your personal communications and data, but they also disclose your location with an alarming level of punctuality at all times when they are on.

Now that different states issued different precedents on warrantless cell phone searches, and a federal court ruled it should maybe limited to your phone book, the question arises what to do with the burgeoning carrier departments that sell your location info, as triangulated by the cell phone towers around you.

At a recent Congressional panel, Department of Justice representative argued that outlawing cell phone tracking without a warrant, like GPS device tracking before it, would "cripple" prosecutors and law enforcement. The authorities are using this grey area now to easily obtain info from carriers without having to go through the warrant hassles for a GPS tracking device.

Greg Nojeim, who is a senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told the same panel that "not one justice accepted the Department of Justice's argument in that [GPS] case. It got zero votes. We're all here, the criminals are not taking over the country."

Carriers have dedicated departments for cell phone tracking data collection and even issued manuals for law enforcement officials, detailing what data is stored and for how long, and outlining their pricing list should the police request this info. It can range from a couple of hundred bucks to track a suspect's location at any time, to more than $2, 000 for full-blown wiretapping of messages and conversations.

AT&T, for example, keeps your tower info indefinitely, Verizon for one "rolling" year, and Sprint for 18-24 months, and there are similar procedures for text messages. T-Mobile charges $150 for an hour's worth of info what phone number was close to which towers, Verizon rakes in $30-$60 for 15 minutes, whereas AT&T likely charges $75 an hour with two to four hours minimum.

The Gilbert, AZ police department went even further than paying carriers by the minute or hour for location surveillance, and built their own tracking equipment to save on these charges, for the cool sum of $244, 195.

Watch the video below of the Congressional panel hearings the other day, which is pretty telling about what's at stake for carriers and law enforcement should the warrantless cell phone tracking practice be banned.

source: PCW, CW & NYT



26. RocioZeigler

Posts: 1; Member since: May 10, 2012

they also disclose your location with an alarming level of punctuality at all times when they are on.

19. MorePhonesThanNeeded

Posts: 645; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

All i got from this was that AT&T make lots of money off giving up your whereabouts, and hold your information indefinitely...nice. Anyway you should not have to even think about this sort of thing as a Judge who is there to uphold the law and protect the citizens from even the government who is filled with a lot more crooks per square foot than the most crime filled cities.

21. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

the government made warrantless searches legal a few years ago.

16. Forsaken77

Posts: 553; Member since: Jun 09, 2011

What happened to good ole fashioned police work? Cops have been doing their jobs for the last hundred years without tracking devices, so they aren't gonna be "crippled" now without them. It's like the cops are cheating in a game of cops-n-robbers.

14. D_Tech-tive

Posts: 104; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

If sorry police can't convince a judge to issue a warrant then they have no business worrying about what I'm doing even if it is illegal! Also shame on the carriers for selling out their customers! Bad enough you got douche bags with badges making up excuses just to pull you over and harass to see if the can find something while the run your license! Classic example " We had reports of someone in a white BMW mugging people" Really! SMH!

9. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

@remix - the warrant-less surveillance jumped when W came to town. I don't recall him being accused of being liberal. Did I miss something? ;-)

10. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

its an extension of the patriot act. Something that needs to go away. Obama had his chance to not renew the patriot act, and decided to use it. The warrantless phone thing has only come around in the last few years under obama. i accuse W of being a liberal on many things. Especially big government things. He was a social conservative but he was liberal with government and expanded government more than most presidents.. well until Obama.

11. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Barry has basically expanded an item that had been started by W. Example - drone attacks. Barry has presided over more drone attacks in 3 1/2 years than W. did in 8. But W. started the drone attacks. Same for the Patriot Act. W. started it, and Barry figured it could be beneficial. BTW, I don't recall where Mittens has disavowed the Patriot Act, so he and Barry are kind of like 2 peas in the same pod in that regard.

12. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Also, the warrant-less phone tapping was extensively used during W's tenure. If memory serves, there is a section of the Patriot Act devoted to it. The latest GPS tracking scandal involes stretching the boundaries of even the Patriot Act. Things have to be pretty bad when even the Supremes get indigestion.... Especially the neocons on the court.

13. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

you want to read something that will really knock your socks off that ties directly into this? Go pick up April's issue of wired. The cover story is on a new super spy center they are building in Utah. Its not meant to spy on the world as much as its meant to spy on EVERY communication between US citizens.. all without a judicial order. It also ties very well into the conversation because it goes over the patriot act, the unconstitutional wireless tapping that went on for like 6 years before someone blew the whistle.. and then the government reacted by passing the bill to make it legal. It also goes into the fact that certain members of the NSA went to Obama when he took over and begged him to end it... and instead he doubled down on it. The spy center and a bunch of other "OMG" crap are obama's babies. But Bush laid most of the groundwork. When it comes to stomping on the constitution, both parties are guilty as hell. Thats why im neither Dem or Rep. :) Neither party wants to get out of war. Dont let them fool ya. War is the best reason to convince people to allow the government to trample the constitution.. in the name of "safety".

17. shimmyx20

Posts: 280; Member since: Mar 03, 2009

Every election cycle I'm reminded of the South Park episode with the election between the Douche and the Turd Sandwich. We're f**ked either way

18. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

were getting to the point where I miss the douche and turd.. weve gone down to old sewer water vs rotten eggs on dirty butt cheeks.

27. parkwaydr

Posts: 572; Member since: Sep 07, 2011

Don't forget, war is also a huge money maker.

8. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

@dc - wireline phone conversations are private. Wireless phone conversations are 'broadcast' by the caller and in the absence of encryption, are not private.

7. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Its not going to matter soon. Our lovely big liberal government has passed a law requiring Black Boxes in all new cars by like 2015. Just like airplanes, those black boxes will have GPS and record everything you do. "What did we do with the constitution? Oh, i think bob over there used it as toilet paper by accident.. dont worry, we will just write a new one with out all those pesky first amendment rights in it" - US Gov.

5. dcgore

Posts: 234; Member since: Feb 24, 2012

Phone conversations "are" private. Warrants should be enforced!!

4. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

It is just so inconvenient to have to get a warrant. Judges can ask embarrassing questions about probable cause that the coppers just don't have the information to be able to answer the judge's question with. North Korea has it about right - you are guilty until proven innocent.... Oh, and BTW, the coppers can put a tracking device/tap/whatever that would require a warrant on you and then go and get the warrant. They just have to get the warrant within 72 hours of doing the deed.

2. superguy

Posts: 499; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

That damn 4th amendment. If we could get around it, we could track dissidents ... err criminals like every other authoritarian or communist country in the world. Look how little crime North Korea has. They do it right! /sarcasm off If law enforcement has such a need to track people, then they clearly have a case that a judge would sign off on a warrant for it. Otherwise, leave people alone and respect their privacy.

3. tedkord

Posts: 17544; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Stop throwing the Constitution in my face! It's just a goddamned piece of paper!

6. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

When you have both the government and law enforcement willfully ignoring the constitution, we are no longer a free republic. I dont give a s**t what excuse they make. Get a damn court order. You dont have a right to track us at will, but WE the people have a right to privacy.

15. medicci37

Posts: 1361; Member since: Nov 19, 2011

@ tedkord, Tell that 2 all the men & women who sacrificed their life, so dueshe bags like you are free.

20. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

i think he was trying to be sarchastic, medicci

22. medicci37

Posts: 1361; Member since: Nov 19, 2011

Yeah, i guess your right. I had thought that myself at first. But then i remembered how i thought The same about Taco's comments at first. But unfortunately, I was wrong on both accounts.

23. tedkord

Posts: 17544; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Yeah, I was just parroting the line GWB supposedly yelled out when a staffer mentioned that some provisions of the Patriot Act might be unconstitutional. Believe me, I am anti big, intrusive government.

24. medicci37

Posts: 1361; Member since: Nov 19, 2011

2 bad he wasn't being sarcastic. I don't think any president has screwed the country as much as he did.

25. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

no.. no.. we have a new one thats screwing us just as bad and worse depending on the subject. we just went from dumber to dumber-er..

1. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

wait you mean to tell me they dont need our permission to track us? =-O

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