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US Justice Dept. Sued For Cellular Tracking Information 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the portable-deprivatizer dept.
tpaudio writes "The ACLU and the EFF are suing the Department of Justice over how the government might be using GPS and location data from cell phones. With over 200 million Americans carrying cell phones, this could be pretty important for setting guidelines. We have already seen other frightening powers related to cell phones, such as 'cell mic tapping.'" The ACLU press release is also available, and it contains links to the complaint and the Freedom of Information Act request. We've previously discussed instances of cell phone tracking in the US and elsewhere.
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US Justice Dept. Sued For Cellular Tracking Information

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  • by kaliann (1316559) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:57AM (#24074237)

    Actually, the article that /. originally posted [cnet.com] on this specifically referred to remote software installation that did NOT require hands-on phone snatching shenanigans.

  • by argent (18001) <peter AT slashdo ... taronga DOT com> on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:41AM (#24074419) Homepage Journal

    You don't need GPS to locate the phone. The phone continually handshakes with multiple cells to support handoff between cells, and the phone company can use that information to locate and track you.

  • by value_added (719364) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:46AM (#24074735)

    Don't make us get probable cause! Probable cause is for losers! And put the bumpers back into my bowling lanes!

    I'm a big fan of sarcasm, but instead of going the bumper-sticker advocacy route, I'd suggest visiting the ACLU and clicking the Donate Now [aclu.org] button. That way when someone slams you with a "What are you? A pinko liberal card-carrying member of the ACLU?", they'd be at least partially correct for a change.

    Similarly, you can visit the EFF website and become a member [eff.org]. Don't know if they give you a card to carry, but the free T-shirt could be worn by any geek with pride.

    While I expect some of the more egregious abuses of the current administration may end when it packs up its bags and heads out the door, I don't expect to see the trend they represent to subside, or that in the future, there will fewer stories on Slashdot and in the mainstream press where the ACLU, the EFF and similar groups aren't forced to take yet another action to protect our rights.

  • by LM741N (258038) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @10:48AM (#24074743)

    with the cellphone turned off. Witness the long times that phones take to turn on / reboot the uP, and you know that nothing is going on inside there unless someone physically gets a hold of your phone and installs some electronics in it. But working in the handset industry for years I can tell you there is not enough room in the phones for anything extra, no matter how compact.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @01:14PM (#24075585) Homepage

    "You can't track people with the cellphone turned off."

    Of course they can. The cell phone, when turned "off" is still operating. How else do you think it determines that you want to turn it on? It needs to figure out that you have held the button for a specific period of time (the same button normally used to disconnect a call when "on" .) Do you think it accomplishes this without the power? The cell phone is always powered even when "off" . Even if the CPU wasn't powered at all times, which it is, you are assuming that the IC that sends and recieves the analog signals to and from the cell are not operational, which is also a bogus assumption.

    ... and a few points to keep the clueless from responding to quickly, as they are wont to do:

    1. The CPU may be in a low power state until a key is pressed. It may not be clocked until that key is pressed. It may be drawing nanoamps of current. It is still powered .
    2. The signal is analog between the phone and the cell. It may be encoded and decoded digitally, but it is none the less an analog signal. In fact every signal in a computer is analog ! Digital is merely a special case of analog. All digital signals are analog. Not all analog signals are digital.

      "But working in the handset industry for years ..."

      Just a note to the people who read this line and assumed it was a reasonable voucher of credential:

      Working in the health industry for years does not qualify one to perform brain surgery. Working as a surgeon for years still may not do so. No offense intended to to LM741N (which ironically is an analog op-amp IC IIRC), but you are severiously misinformed.

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