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US Justice Dept. Sued For Cellular Tracking Information 75

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 catwh0re ( 540371 ) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:42AM (#24074183)
    With regards to the story about the mafia being listened into with their cell phones and as also noted in the original affidavit related to the case: the cell phones were altered, i.e they were bugged: they were not dealing with off the shelf goods. The interesting part of the story was how they managed to obtain these mobile phones for alteration/switching. Bugging a device that already has the necessary parts to transmit audio is pretty unexciting.
  • by kaliann ( 1316559 ) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @08:48AM (#24074201)

    That somewhere in the Justice Dept. there's someone throwing a temper tantrum because someone took away their totally illegal advantage?

    "Court decisions indicate that USAOs claim not to need probable cause to obtain real-time tracking information. News reports further suggest that some field offices are violating a Department of Justice 'internal recomendation' that 'federal procecutors seek warrants based on probable cause to obtain precise location data in private areas.'"

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

    I love it when my rights are seen as an inconvenience. (Though it's nice that someone has RECOMMENDED that probable cause be found.)

    Seriously, they're law enforcement: finding probable cause IS THEIR JOB.

  • No it doesn't. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Alwin Henseler ( 640539 ) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @09:43AM (#24074439)
    Phones based on OpenMoko might be a lot harder to bug using the built-in mic (without the user knowing it), but this story is about location data.

    Where your phone is at, is already tracked as a normal function of the cellphone network, because the network needs to determine what cell tower(s) your calls are routed through. So any time your phone is ready to make or receive calls, your provider knows where it is.

    It's safe to assume that some (or all) of that data is recorded somehow. In the European Union, there's a EU-wide directive that would require such location data to be kept for at least a year or so. AFAIK that's already been passed despite protests from many sides, and now in the process of implementation in national laws. That is, where implementation isn't blocked by national governments, legal or technical problems. And there have been some high-profile court cases already, where cellphone location data was at stake.

    The story is about how that location data could be used. How long is it kept? Who has access to it? Do you need a court order to get access? If so, on what grounds should it be granted? Is there any supervision? What other uses are there? What control (as a consumer) do you have over use of your cellphone location data?

    Interesting questions - I can't say I know any clear answers for where I live. I guess that location data is recorded, may be kept for a loooong time, and that mis-use is possible by parties who have no right snooping in there. Like criminals, shady business, or government/law enforcement that may or may not honour applicable laws. If you don't like that, then: a) don't carry a cellphone, or b) pull out the battery when you're not calling.
  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:3, Insightful)

    by story645 ( 1278106 ) * <> on Sunday July 06, 2008 @12:05PM (#24075149) Journal

    To give him karma points? He's pretty new and far as I know, Funny doesn't get karma, so they may have been trying to be nice.

    Or the joke was insightful? The site looks pretty real, and it's totally not far fetched to believe that somebody's already implemented this for profit. Hell, there are plenty of sites that track spouses, invade their privacy, etc. I've heard of people installing key loggers to get into their spouses emails. Lots of people seem really quick to throw away all their ideals about privacy when they think someone is screwing around on 'em.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.