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Feds Push For Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking 400

Posted by timothy
from the unless-you-are-in-favor-of-child-abduction dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An article at CNET is reporting on the Obama administration's push for warrantless tracking of the location of cell phones (Verizon Wireless stores location data for one year, for instance). The Justice Department says no warrant is necessary: 'Because wireless carriers regularly generate and retain the records at issue, and because these 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.'"
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Feds Push For Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking

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  • Yeah, that's ok.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:40PM (#31102466)
    I guess I didn't really need a cell phone anyway.
  • by drDugan (219551) * on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:40PM (#31102472) Homepage

    If you don't want anyone to know where you are, you shouldn't go there.

    [[/TROLL]]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      [[/TROLL]]

      Don't be a wuss. Take your moderation like a man, even if you were joking.
      • by drDugan (219551) * on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:48PM (#31102646) Homepage

        This argument, while never voiced due to its absurdity seems the most common rationale for removing privacy protections.

        The comment not a joke at all. It was satire of the recent Google CEO comment: If you have something that you dont want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place, said Schmidt. You know, kind of like calling a failed politician, "Fucking Retarded" (you're brilliant, Stephen). See? Satire.

        • Re:Well, in fairness (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 11, 2010 @04:05PM (#31103950)

          Google : "Slippery slope"

          We need to avoid these circular fallacies for eroding privacy requirements, such as:

          "If you don't want people to know, you shouldn't do it" or "If you want privacy, you're probably a criminal"

          Or my personal favorite, "If you're not doing anything wrong, you can't get in trouble".

          Bullsh. You let people start talking like that, and pretty soon we're all goose-stepping towards Auschwitz.

          This erosion of rights has got to be fought tooth and nail, now. Once we go warrant-free, there's no going back.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ukyoCE (106879)

          Schmidt's comment, taking in context, was like saying:

          "The cell phone companies already know and record your location. Turn your phone off if you don't want them tracking you. The tracking is fundamental to them providing cell phone service, and if they have it, the government will be able to subpoena it."

          That seems like common sense, not sure what there is to get riled up about in there. Except for the government trying to get the data without a warrant, of course.

          • by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @04:48PM (#31104586)

            The better question is why is the data retained for any time at all?

            It should never be needed later, and should only be available while you are talking to that tower.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by ukyoCE (106879)

              I don't know a ton about cell phone tech, but for the search example, I know as a developer that I'd want to hang on to searches for data mining usage patterns to improve the search service.

              I've never had the chance to anonymize data yet, but it seems like a one-way hash would be the only way you could anonymize the data while still continuing to tack new data onto the same "anonymous" user.

              To take a wild stab at the cell phone location data - there are charges based on location, and they need to retain the

              • by CTalkobt (81900) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @05:38PM (#31105398) Homepage
                I'm not really sure that you could annoymize the data reliably... Assuming we're just talking about cell tower "semi-gps" location tracking I've seen it as accurate as 200ft. When the location patterns show an individual residing at a location for multiple nights it's very easy to tie that into an address lookup.

                If multiple individuals reside at the address additional criteria can be gleaned by also tying it into where the cell being tracked goes from 9-5 daily.

                Any time you begin to go down a slippery slope you've already lost. Warrents should always be required.
        • by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Thursday February 11, 2010 @07:42PM (#31107266) Homepage Journal

          It was satire of the recent Google CEO comment: If you have something that you dont want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place, said Schmidt.

          No, actually, that was just his lead-in to his actual point:

          But if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time. And [...] we're all subject, in the US, to the Patriot Act, and it is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities.

          In other words, you have a CEO of a major, public corporation saying, "you can't trust us to keep your data private because, good intentions aside, the feds will slap us with a national security note and it's game over." Funny how I don't recall Yahoo!, Microsoft or any of the other major players pushing this point. Perhaps Google is the only one that gets these requests... or perhaps Schmidt is the only one telling you anything.

    • by venom85 (1399525) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:46PM (#31102624)

      So then I assume you also would say that if I have nothing to hide, I shouldn't mind the police tearing my house apart looking for something that may or may not be there? If I have nothing to hide, I shouldn't mind being searched every time I enter or leave a building? I shouldn't mind being spied on at all times during my daily life? That's all ridiculous. Just because I don't want the Feds to know where I am every waking second doesn't mean I'm doing anything wrong. I just like my privacy, and they're interfering with that. It's not like it's anything new in this country (USA), but it's still wrong. Plain and simple.

      • by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:50PM (#31102706)
        Seeing as how the feds are not above blackmail, e.g. "Help us nail this guy or we'll tell your wife where you were last Saturday," I'd have to agree with you. The reason we require warrants is to attempt to prevent abuses of authority.
        • Re:Well, in fairness (Score:4, Interesting)

          by AHuxley (892839) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @07:29PM (#31107086) Homepage Journal
          Same with Britain's DNA database, cops just wanted people on it, so they did what was needed to get people on it.
          One huge fishing expedition.
          "Police making arrests 'just to gather DNA samples'"
          http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8375567.stm [bbc.co.uk]
          "NYPD tracking cell phone owners, but foes aren't sure practice is legal" http://tinyurl.com/y9lh6wq [tinyurl.com]
          The NYPD seems to take an interest in your cell phone battery, and gets to note International Mobile Equipment Identity number.
          Now the feds want to track you 'in the past'.
          Adamo Bove, head of security at Telecom Italia showed what can be done with this tech via mapping out the CIA rendition in Italy in court. He later 'fell' to his death.
          This tech works and now its been turned onto you with very limited court oversight.
          Dump your phone after the first call, meet in public, in a pool/ocean.
          If its mobile communications your gov was all over it from inception - its just getting more legal to use it.
      • http://www.asofterworld.com/index.php?id=465 [asofterworld.com]

        'If I have nothing to hide, then DON'T SEARCH ME'
  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage.praecantator@com> on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:42PM (#31102516) Homepage

    This sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing for carriers to provide UPON BEING SERVED WITH A WARRANT!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is more evidence that B.O. is really George Bush III

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Requiem18th (742389)

        No kidding, the guy should be burned for weeks for aggravated treason.

        This is for giving us hope, this is for taking it away...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by houstonbofh (602064)
        This is silly... Republicans are not "evil." Democrats are not "evil." Politicians are evil! The little letter next to the name means next to nothing.
      • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Montezumaa (1674080) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @04:56PM (#31104716)

        You do understand that Bill Clinton was doing the exact same thing that Bush had been and Obama is doing, right? Bill Clinton started a lot of the phone monitoring that Bush increased. The fact is that any president is going to push the envelop on what is possible, as will anyone that is engaged in any activity. It is only when a person is slapped with an order to stop fucking around that they will actually consider it. Probably.

        The fact that the Justice Department is claiming this is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment is a real problem. Yeah, they may continually violate people's right, but it is humorous that the government would be dumb enough to use such a stupid, untrue argument. Thank god for this "Hope" and "Change".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sir_Dill (218371)
      Mod Parent Up. Seriously, this argument could be said about ALL REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION. OBVIOUSLY its available, because when you get a warrant, they look it up and provide it. DUH.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The question is not only a one of the 4th Amendment, one of GRANTED powers in the Constitution. But since the Supreme Court has eviscerated the Constitution via the Commerce Clause rulings no one seems to even ask "wasn't this a document of ENUMERATED powers, and where is this enumerated?"

      • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:10PM (#31103078)

        That's what I thought.

        Now, I'm Canadian, so I'm not entirely versed in US Law (having learned most of it from Law and Order) but my understanding was:

        The US Constitution is a list of things the Government is allowed to do. If it's not on the list, it's not okay.

        • by ari_j (90255) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:20PM (#31103250)
          You are correct, as far as the federal government goes. The state governments were not similarly limited except where the Constitution says they were to be. That has always been open to interpretation by the courts, with bizarre results such as the things that explicitly refer to Congress being imputed to the states long before the things that are worded in outright "nobody can do this" terms were. Classic example: First Amendment says 'Congress' but has long been applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Second Amendment says 'shall not be infringed' by anyone, but is still up in the air.

          The problem as far as the federal government goes is the commerce clause taken together with rational basis review. If Congress passes a law that says 'Whereas interstate commerce is affected by the lederhosen industry, all citizens are required to wear lederhosen on Tuesdays. Violation is a felony punishable by five years in federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison.', that's enough to say that they were exercising their power under the Interstate Commerce Clause. Rational basis review means that a court won't overturn a commerce clause-based law if there is any rational way that the law relates to interstate commerce. And that includes enforcement when the actual act had nothing to do with interstate commerce.

          For instance, a federal law that fixes grain prices will result in subsistence farmers being punished for violating it. (True story.) A federal law that says machine guns affect interstate commerce can be used to punish you for building a machine gun out of scrap metal even if none of it ever crossed state lines. (True story.) There are very few exceptions where the Supreme Court (after FDR and the New Deal) has thrown out a law for overstepping the authority of Congress under the commerce clause.

          Long story short: Congress is allowed to do anything it wants, because everything has some effect on interstate commerce.
        • by jgtg32a (1173373) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:28PM (#31103370)

          That's correct but if they actually follow that, then the government is basically required to be tiny, and politicians can't really bribe the voters if the .gov is tiny so they ignore it.

        • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @05:01PM (#31104778) Homepage

          so I'm not entirely versed in US Law (having learned most of it from Law and Order)

          That's ok. Everything I know about Canada comes from Rush lyrics and South Park.

    • It's not though, unless they only obtain information for the specific suspect named in the warrant. Using mass cell phone data as some kind of suspect sieve is definitely not within the scope of the fourth amendment (there will necessarily be thousands of records obtained for people who are not suspects and never will be) but is also a very dangerous investigative tactic: there can be both false positives and false negatives.

      That data doesn't belong to the phone companies, and even if it did, the phone com

  • by ircmaxell (1117387) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:45PM (#31102586) Homepage
    What about the spirit of the 4th amendment? Sure, it may not violate the amendment as it's worded, but was that the intent of it when it was put in?

    We're getting into very precarious situations here. With technology advancing, we're pushing the letter of the law as far as it can go, even when it isn't really applicable. Don't forget, the Constitution was written over 200 years ago. We need to stop looking how the letter of the laws apply to today's world, and start looking into the spirit of the laws.
    • by Thoreauly Nuts (1701246) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:57PM (#31102836)

      What about the spirit of the 4th amendment? Sure, it may not violate the amendment as it's worded, but was that the intent of it when it was put in?

      The American Constitution is dead. It's an outdated document that has been viciously exploited by the frauds who claim to represent us. What we need to do is to call a Constitutional Convention and rewrite the thing with a clearer and MUCH expanded Bill of Rights.

      In fact, I think that such a convention should be mandatory about every 50 years and there should be very clear rules that each iteration must always err in favor of the rights of the people and never increase the power of government. In fact, it should be mandatory that any increases in power that have occurred in the interim be removed at each convention.

      • So, what you propose is to create not only a new constitution every fifty years, but also to maintain a meta-constitution to restrict even the creation of the fifty-year constitution?

        Although I do like the "get everyone to agree on the terms by which they will consent to be governed every generation." idea.

      • by AthleteMusicianNerd (1633805) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:46PM (#31103658)
        It is not outdated. Politicians take an oath to uphold the constitution, but don't. They should be thrown in jail. There is no interpretation of it, it's very easy to read and understand. The Founding Fathers were well aware of the consequences of the actions we're taking in government now because they lived through it in Britain. That's why you hear quotes from very smart men such as Benjamin Franklin saying "If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both." We've seen that actually play out since Sept. 11th. Or other ones like "Remember that time is money." which also continues to hold true.
        Just because there is new technology, does not change the ways laws should be enforced. A cell phone conversation is no different from a land line conversation which is no different from sending a letter. If you intercept a letter, it's a violation of privacy just as it would be to listen to someone's cell phone conversation. The government would like people to believe that there's a difference so they can continue on their malicious ways of fascism.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I hearitly agree with what you're saying, except for the "MUCH expanded Bill of Rights". The Constitution was not intended to be a blacklist of things the government can't do; it's a whitelist of things they can do. If it's not in the whitelist, they can't do it.

        So counter-intuitive though it may seem, if any list needs to be expanded it's the whitelist of things they can do, along with a generous helping of pounding it into their heads that if it's not enumerated as one of their powers, and they try it

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098)

        What we need to do is to call a Constitutional Convention and rewrite the thing with a clearer and MUCH expanded Bill of Rights.

        Oh HELL no. I can tell you what that leads to: the abomination that is the EU constitution. About 200 pages in small print.

        No, No, and No.

        I love the US Constitution because it is short and specific. Everyone can read it over a lunch break. It covers broad areas and puts lower (or upper) limits on what can be implemented, but doesn't spell out the legalistic details. Please don't touch it. There are a few issues with it, but nothing that requires a wholesale rewrite. And for the record - the issues I refer t

    • The technetronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities.’
      - Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technet

    • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:14PM (#31103146) Homepage Journal

      you can bet they are violating the intent. As the government has expanded so has the explanation for everything they do. The write long winded justifications all so that by the time you get done reading it you forget what it was about. It almost as if they hope that people opposed will just throw up their hands and give up.

      Remember, those who clutch to their Constitution are now the radicals.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:18PM (#31103218) Homepage

      No normal government will ever tie their own hands. Right after a revolution - be it a war of independence or civil war - is the only time when people wronged by the government will sit in government and have the power to do anything about it. The rest of the time, claw into what you have and don't let go - it's not coming back.

    • by unix1 (1667411) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:37PM (#31103508)

      What about the spirit of the 4th amendment? Sure, it may not violate the amendment as it's worded, but was that the intent of it when it was put in?

      But it DOES violate. From their own argument:

      "a customer's Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records"

      Just because there's a 3rd party (phone company) involved doesn't mean 4th amendment goes out the window. The 4th amendment doesn't have an asterisk that says "(*) doesn't apply when facilitated by a 3rd party." The right is there to protect people from government's abuse of power. The issue is what the government can and cannot do, regardless of whether they are able to hire/convince a 3rd party to do it for them.

      In fact, if the above argument stands as is, we can freely plug in other variables in that statement:

      a customer's Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when:

      - phone company reveals to the government its own customer call detail records
      - hotels reveal to the government their guest check-in/out records
      - credit card companies reveal to the government their customer purchase records
      - libraries reveal to the government their book lending records
      - dry cleaners reveal to the government their customer records
      - etc.

      Where does it stop? And all this without a warrant or a probable cause? How does it not violate?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sandbags (964742)

        You forget the 5th amendment, for which with DUE PROCESS alone, the government CAN take your life, liberty, or property, with restrictions.

        However, that's irrelevant. There's nothing PRIVATE about where you went in public, where any officer so deputized could simply have followed you. Federal district court already rules that simply with due process, cops could place a tracking device on your car, in lieu of following you with manpower, given probable cause in an active case, and following due process. T

  • I have my phone to only give out GPS data on 911 calls. Is that what they are interested in? The exact location of people (within a hundred yards or whatever) without a warrant, or just which towers they pinged off of at a given time?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Amouth (879122)
      more than likely they are wanting the tower data - BUT depending on the phone - and the towers that may be "hey i was talking to him" or "hey the 3 of us where listening to him here is the strength so you can triangulate" or "yea that phone associated with me - here is it's header data - oh see the GPS info in it?" either way - you may have a phone that only allows GPS data on 911 calls - i bet there are ALOT of phones where that isn't an option - and ALOT more phones where people have no idea it is even i
      • by Amouth (879122) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:09PM (#31103046)
        I know it's bad form to reply to your self but wanted to note this.. A warrant gives the police special access to a location or information, something not publicly available. If it goes through that they don't need a warrant then could we not use this as a stepping stone to justify any member of the public requesting the same information from the telecom's? not just for our selves but for any one.. it's just a different way of looking at it - and one that should commonly be viewed
      • i bet there are ALOT of phones where that isn't an option - and ALOT more phones where people have no idea it is even in there.

        Not to be the grammar/spelling police, but since you used it twice - IN ALL CAPS - please, Please, PLEASE be advised that "a lot" is two fucking words.

        Good job on the the rest of your post though.

  • by bagofbeans (567926) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:50PM (#31102692)
    See EFF page http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2010/02/08 [eff.org], but the interesting bit is FBI testimony from page 39 in this document http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/celltracking/Filed%20Cell%20Tracking%20Brief.pdf [eff.org]
  • Yeah? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:53PM (#31102756) Homepage

    And if you read the 10th amendment at face value, nowhere is there authorization for quite literally the majority of the federal government. The very existence and authority of most federal agencies relies on the **spirit** of the Constitution's enumerated powers, not the actual hard letter.

    Therefore, they should be required to abide by the **spirit** of the 4th amendment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

      Therefore, they should be required to abide by the **spirit** of the 4th amendment.

      "I'm gonna have my cake and eat it too because I've got a monopoly on violence."

  • by Kenja (541830) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:54PM (#31102774)
    If someone's general location is not protected by the 4th amendment, lets see a web site that shows the "general location" of all federal employees. Seems only fair.
    • That's ludicrous - only the Police, the National Guard and Federal employees can be trusted with that kind of access. Every other person in the US is just not trustworthy enough to handle this kind of responsibility.

      Yes, that was sarcasm.

  • Police resources are abused by police for their own purposes on a regular basis. An abusive spouse who is also a police officer would have unfettered access to information on the whereabouts of their victims. This scenario alone should be enough to can this proposal, but it probably won't be.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bonch (38532)

      Obama doesn't care. His administration flat-out says in the article that Americans enjoy no "reasonable expectation of privacy." Along with his defense of Bush wiretapping, it sure looks like we got the hope and change we were promised, eh?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Chris Burke (6130)

        His administration flat-out says in the article that Americans enjoy no "reasonable expectation of privacy."

        No reasonable expectation of privacy regarding the location of their phone. And in part because it's only a "general" indication of location.

        Which is still complete bullshit -- thank God the meat of the article is about a Magistrate denying them this ability. But they're not denying expectation of privacy ever exists.

        No, no, this is just another case of the Obama DoJ defending actions taken by the

  • Meet the new boss (Score:3, Insightful)

    by esocid (946821) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @02:58PM (#31102852) Journal
    Same as the old boss. I'm getting sick of this constant push to roll back privacy. No matter what the government may say, 9/11 was the best thing to happen to give them such blanket authority.
  • More to the point, (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tombeard (126886)

    just WHY are they retaining this information in the first place?

  • Solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by davidwr (791652)

    1) if the feds require the data retention, then a warrant is necessary to access the customer's information.
    2a) if the feds do not require data retention, then a warrant is required to access the carrier's information.
    2b) if the feds do not require data retention and there is not a reasonable business reason to retain the information, find a carrier that doesn't retain the information beyond what is needed for routine business use.

    It's reasonable for businesses to keep statistical, summary information that

  • publish the whereabouts going back a year of some government officials. especially let the wife see some of the more interesting locations

    sounds unfair? no, it's epitome of turnaround and fairness

    of course, it won't stop the assholes from going after the hacker and claiming that a crime was committed. fucking hypocrites

  • by Ngarrang (1023425) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:04PM (#31102954) Journal

    The government logic being used here reminds of the incredible leaps of logic my 4-yr makes to defend himself from punishment.

    Is very simple, my location at any given moment of any given day is none of the government's business. You want to know, get a warrant. None of this loop-hole business. Makes me happy to not own a cell phone, since I am absolutely certain they are ALREADY tracking innocent citizens in this manner on a regular basis.

  • by WCMI92 (592436) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:06PM (#31102998) Homepage

    Looks like the Obama administration is full of Hope and Change.

    No way in hell, even under the patriot act that this is legal to do to US citizens.

    Then again, Obama has little faith in the Constitution, he considers it a document of "negative liberty" (see his NPR interview) that unfortunately tells he and his government lots of stuff (like this) they aren't allowed to do.

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:54PM (#31103788) Homepage Journal

      Then again, Obama has little faith in the Constitution, he considers it a document of "negative liberty" (see his NPR interview) that unfortunately tells he and his government lots of stuff (like this) they aren't allowed to do.

      Well, that's exactly right, the US Constitution is founded on a political concept of negative reciprocity. It's a promise of a limit of power from a government in exchange for a minimal surrender from the people.

      A promise obviously broken.

  • by inthealpine (1337881) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:14PM (#31103148)
    I'm sure everyone that hated Bush is OK with Obama doing this. After all he is a kinder genteeler constitution shredder... From the January 18, 2001, broadcast of the WBEZ's Odyssey program, "The Court and Civil Rights": "[...T]he Constitution is a charter of negative liberties -- says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf, and that hasn't shifted." http://mediamatters.org/research/200810280021 [mediamatters.org] The constitution was meant to restrict the government from taking more and more control. Obama's vision is a constitution that has limitless government so said government can 'do things on your behalf', as though the government knew best.
    • by ukyoCE (106879) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @04:48PM (#31104582) Journal

      I'm sure everyone that hated Bush is OK with Obama doing this.

      No. This is flagrantly wrong no matter what administration it's being done under.

    • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @05:03PM (#31104818) Homepage

      I'm sure everyone that hated Bush is OK with Obama doing this.

      Your surety is mistaken. I hated Bush (maybe hate is too strong -- I found him to be an abject failure as President), and I voted for Obama. I find his about-face on defending The Constitution to be loathsome. Sufficiently so that barring a fantastic reverse in course and taking genuine action to restore The Constitution, I will vote against him.

      "[...T]he Constitution is a charter of negative liberties -- says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you,"

      That is exactly correct. The Constitution has some very specific rules about what the government is not allowed to do. Those rules are the most important part of The Constitution, and the only persuasive argument against them at the time was that enumerating them could lead down a path where people would argue that those were the only restrictions on government (we have done that, and gone further to positing that other portions of The Constitution supercede the limitations, which is absolute folly).

      But the above statement, tortured though the term "negative liberties" is, is exactly correct. The liberties guaranteed by The Constitution are so guaranteed by negating the government's authority to infringe them.

      "but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf, and that hasn't shifted."

      The second statement above seems to be explaining that The Constitution grants no explicit authority to the government, and certainly nothing that could grant it power beyond the circumscriptions mentioned in the first quote. That is precisely the sort of interpretation that I (a little 'l' libertarian) would like the President to hold.

      Is the point of invoking the Odyssey quote to point out that he does not adhere to his stated beliefs (a point on which I wholeheartedly agree), or is there a supposition that the Odyssey quote itself betrays a conflict with The Constitution? If the latter, could you elaborate please? I am not following, but I am deeply interested.

  • by MikeURL (890801) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:14PM (#31103158) Journal
    They must be talking about the location based on cell phone tower data. The GPS on my phone can locate me to within a couple of meters and using google I can create a freaky accurate maptrail of my location over a period of weeks.

    Having said that, even just the cell tower method can locate me, often, to within 500 meters. To argue that this is too general to know my whereabouts at all times is absurd. I think the only way you could claim that location data is not a 4th Amendment violation is if it only tracked you at the state level. And even then it may be a violation. To argue that 500 meters is not enough resolution to infringein my right to unreasonable search is pretty crazy.
    • In an urban environment, 500m may not be enough to pinpoint a location. In a rural environment (or some suburban environments), however, it may well be enough to give away your location. The larger the lot and less densely developed/populated the area, the more likely 500m will make a difference.
  • ... and I never will.

    Reason: I have quite a bit of training in radio and satellite communications, radio frequency radiation and the like.

    I know what such radiation does to a body, short and long term.

    As a result, I have an aversion to carrying a transmitter on my person.

    And, it looks like, as an added bonus, "someones" will not be able to track me (or attempt to do so) by my non-existent cell phone.

    Note: In an emergency, there are probably 20 people in a four square block area with cell phones (if not more

  • Unlike some other states, we have strong protections for privacy in our state, and you can't even install a GPS tracking device on a car here without a warrant, or enable that On*Star tracking feature without written permission from the vehicle owner.

    Thus, anyone tracking cell phones in our state - except in federal waterways or on a federal base or in a federal park, would still need a warrant.

    Anyone.

    Including the feds.

  • Same as the old boss!

    I guess "The Who" had it right.

  • Not exactly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joeyblades (785896) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:59PM (#31103860)

    > these records provide only a very general indication of a user's whereabouts

    These records provide only a very general indication of a user's cell phone whereabouts...

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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