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Newest Gov't Tracking Threat: Cell-Site Data Without a Warrant 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the by-hook-or-by-crook dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this year, the Supreme Court put an end to warrantless GPS tracking. Now, federal prosecutors are trying to get similar data from a different source. A U.S. District Judge has ruled that getting locational data from cell towers in order to track suspects is just fine. '[Judge Huvelle] sidestepped the Fourth Amendment argument and declined to analyze whether the Supreme Court's ruling in Jones' case has any bearing on whether cell-site data can be used without a warrant. Instead, she focused on a doctrine called the "good-faith exemption," in which evidence is not suppressed if the authorities were following the law at the time. The data in Jones' case was coughed up in 2005, well before the Supreme Court's ruling on GPS. "The court, however, need not resolve this vexing question of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, since it concludes that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies," (.PDF) she wrote. ... With that, prosecutors are legally in the clear to use Jones’ phone location records without a warrant.'"
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Newest Gov't Tracking Threat: Cell-Site Data Without a Warrant

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  • by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @09:17AM (#42335751) Homepage

    And therefor her ruling is irrelevant to cases in which the tower data was acquired since the Supreme Court GPS ruling.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @09:59AM (#42335993) Homepage

    If you want to be a drug dealer or engage in other criminal activity, don't broadcast your location to the rest of the world with your cellphone.

    No, the moral of the story is that if you think you are covered by the 4th amendment, and that you're not living in a surveillance society ... you're wrong.

    Your government will spy on you without a warrant, whenever they like.

    This is all of the stuff we used to joke about "papers please" where only the evil communist bastards would do such a thing. Only now, it's accepted as perfectly normal and legal.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @10:01AM (#42336009)
    I read TFS the same way. If we're right, I certainly don't see how this counts as a "new" threat as the headline says, since the good-faith exemption only applies to old cases.
  • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @10:08AM (#42336051)
    Good-faith exception [wikipedia.org] to the exclusionary rule [wikipedia.org]: means that as long as the police thought that they had a valid warrant, their behavior is acceptable and that such illegally obtained evidence may be presented rather than excluded. But the point of the exclusionary rule is to stop police/prosecutor misconduct by not rewarding inappropriate behavior. A good faith exception means you can be sneaky and side-step the law by having a detective obtain a search warrant in bad faith (by providing or proclaming certain facts which are known to be untrue) and then by having separate police officers "act in good faith" by carrying out that warrant.
    .
    Why is it that for civilians/non-law-officers the concept is "ignorance of the law is no excuse"? Police instead get the "well as long as you intended/meant to do good, it's alright..." Regular people are held to the letter of the law even if they are not aware of the existence of the law. Why should police/detectives/prosecutors be rewarded for gaming the system or for an illegal search warrant? [warning, IANAL and this post strongly follows the story line of something from Law and Order about one or two years ago... :>) ]
  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @10:21AM (#42336147) Homepage Journal

    4th amendment is no intrusion in your home and some private property like a car or boat along with having the content of your phone conversations private

    Bullshit:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Nowhere does it state that the right to be free from search and seizure without warrant only applies in your own home or on private property, and only an absolute fucking moron (or government shill) would think otherwise.

    Thank $deity that you don't get to decide my rights.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @10:39AM (#42336299) Homepage

    Yup, and for the past few years they do what their party tell them to do. The supreme court has not been the defenders of the constitution that they were supposed to be for decades....

  • by fearofcarpet (654438) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @10:45AM (#42336333)

    Apparently the Fourth Amendment has all sorts of exclusionary clauses that us mortals can't see. Secure in papers and possessions? Well, email isn't really paper... No searches without warrants? It's ok if the police thought they had one. And tracking you without your knowledge isn't really a "privacy" issue. The Second Amendment, however, is clearly iron-clad, exception free, future-proof, and literal except that "militia" really means "individuals." Interestingly, though, I still can't own a plastic gun because undetectable guns are illegal--though perhaps all the loopholes in the Fourth Amendment supersede the Second Amendment? I can't wait to see how SCOTUS views equal protection when it comes to sexual orientation. Is it an iron-clad, literal right or are there more invisible exceptions that only special people in black robes can see? Or maybe it will suddenly be states rights issue this time (but not drugs, no the commerce clause clearly covers those.)

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