Feds Say Mobile-Phone Location Data Not ‘Constitutionally Protected’

Feds Say Mobile-Phone Location Data Not ‘Constitutionally Protected’

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This is a discussion on Feds Say Mobile-Phone Location Data Not ‘Constitutionally Protected’ within the The Debate Forum forums, part of the Topics of Interest category; Feds Say Mobile-Phone Location Data Not ‘Constitutionally Protected’ The Obama administration told a federal court Tuesday that the public has ...

  1. #1

    Feds Say Mobile-Phone Location Data Not ‘Constitutionally Protected’

    Feds Say Mobile-Phone Location Data Not ‘Constitutionally Protected’

    The Obama administration told a federal court Tuesday that the public has no “reasonable expectation of privacy” in cellphone location data, and hence the authorities may obtain documents detailing a person’s movements from wireless carriers without a probable-cause warrant.

    The administration, citing a 1976 Supreme Court precedent, said such data, like banking records, are “third-party records,” meaning customers have no right to keep it private. The government made the argument as it prepares for a re-trial of a previously convicted drug dealer whose conviction was reversed in January by the Supreme Court, which found that the government’s use of a GPS tracker on his vehicle was an illegal search.

    With the 28 days of vehicle tracking data thrown out of court, the feds now want to argue in a re-trial that it was legally in the clear to use Antoine Jones’ phone location records without a warrant. The government wants to use the records to chronicle where Jones was when he made and received mobile phone calls in 2005.

    “A customer’s Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records that were never in the possession of the customer,” the administration said in a court filing Tuesday (.pdf). ”When a cell phone user transmits a signal to a cell tower for his call to be connected, he thereby assumes the risk that the cell phone provider will create its own internal record of which of the company’s towers handles the call. Thus, it makes no difference if some users have never thought about how their cell phones work; a cell phone user can have no expectation of privacy in cell-site information.”

    The government’s position comes as prosecutors are shifting their focus to warrantless cell-tower locational tracking of suspects in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling (.pdf) in Jones’ case that law enforcement should acquire probable-cause warrants from judges to affix GPS devices to vehicles.

    Just after the Jones decision, the FBI pulled the plug on 3,000 GPS-tracking devices.
    Under this logic warrantless wiretapping would be completely legal. I wonder if anybody on the Supreme Court even realizes that this could be used to track and monitor everything they do.

    I recommend contacting a guy named Glenn Greenwald who has a twitter account @ggreenwald. I don't know what his e-mail is -- he's not on Salon.com and it's not listed here. He's a lawyer, probably has ties to the legal community and as a result this could be a topic of discussion

    While I'm at it: Would any record kept on anybody be private if the court ruled in the government's favor?


    R.C.

    Remember, no matter how I die: It was murder; should I be tried for a criminal offense, I probably didn't do it as I'm pretty straight laced and don't even have a speeding ticket; should I mysteriously disappear -- it wasn't voluntary…

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  2. #2

    There is no constitutional Right to Privacy, nor has there ever been one. Things like wiretaps are regulated by 4'th Amendment and partially by the 1'st Amendment. Phone location data is really neither thing, and again, in order to get the data, there would have to be a demonstrable need for such action. Then, the bureaucracy would have to approve, and then a court would have to issue a warrant for surveillance, specifically for a wiretap. Surveillance warrants are much harder to get than something like a search warrant or an arrest warrant. And wiretap warrants are even more difficult to get. This isn't something that's done for the lulz.

    https://ssd.eff.org/wire/govt/wiretapping-protections
    Diligent Procrastinator thanked this post.

  3. #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatio NOmenis View Post
    There is no constitutional Right to Privacy, nor has there ever been one.
    Apparently, Alexander Hamilton and the other Federalists were correct in their reasoning for not wishing to include the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

    The truth is that all of the rights, powers, and privileges belong to the people or the state unless the Constitution delegates them to the federal government. The right to privacy should not have to be stated to be in effect.

    OT: The current administration is overreaching. Unless the cell phone tower information is of public record, then a warrant should be required for the search of the records.

  4. #4

    @Mutatio NOmenis

    Ever heard of Kats v. United States? It basically stated that one basic right of the public is to be left alone by the government. Being able to do this doesn't strike me as being left alone...

    There is no good reason for the government tracking everybody's movement without any restriction except perhaps to protect themselves from the American public.

    R.C.
    Remember, no matter how I die: It was murder; should I be tried for a criminal offense, I probably didn't do it as I'm pretty straight laced and don't even have a speeding ticket; should I mysteriously disappear -- it wasn't voluntary…

  5. #5

    Seriously, I recommend you guys lean on Glenn Greenwald -- this guy is really willing to stand up for the underdog for civil rights causes...

    R.C.
    Remember, no matter how I die: It was murder; should I be tried for a criminal offense, I probably didn't do it as I'm pretty straight laced and don't even have a speeding ticket; should I mysteriously disappear -- it wasn't voluntary…

  6. #6

    Quote Originally Posted by niss View Post
    Apparently, Alexander Hamilton and the other Federalists were correct in their reasoning for not wishing to include the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

    The truth is that all of the rights, powers, and privileges belong to the people or the state unless the Constitution delegates them to the federal government. The right to privacy should not have to be stated to be in effect.

    OT: The current administration is overreaching. Unless the cell phone tower information is of public record, then a warrant should be required for the search of the records.
    Who did you used to be, exactly?

  7. #7

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatio NOmenis View Post
    Who did you used to be, exactly?
    I must confess to being confused by this question.

  8. #8

    Quote Originally Posted by niss View Post
    I must confess to being confused by this question.
    You had a name change, right? I don't remember anyone named "Niss". Forgive me my curiosity.

  9. #9

    Quote Originally Posted by RobynC View Post
    @Mutatio NOmenis

    Ever heard of Kats v. United States? It basically stated that one basic right of the public is to be left alone by the government. Being able to do this doesn't strike me as being left alone...

    There is no good reason for the government tracking everybody's movement without any restriction except perhaps to protect themselves from the American public.
    That wasn't in the AP US History curriculum of top supreme court cases we had to memorize. From what we were taught, right to privacy comes in settings where one can expect privacy, such as in your own home. However, this right does not extend to everywhere, and in the case of demonstrable probable cause, as in the 4'th amendment, privacy can be overcome in the course of due process. I believe that the current orthodoxy holds that there is a general expectation of privacy in places where one's life ought to be private, but there is neither a constitutional right to privacy, and privacy can be violated over the course of a justified legal investigation. Mobile phone tracking information isn't something that's exactly kept private at all. It's not inherently attached to anything criminal, so there isn't 4'th amendment protection, and since it's not speech, there is no 1'st amendment protection for it. You can go online and get apps to track any mobile phone. without any sort of need, license, or background check. It's also possible to request tracking information from the phone companies in course of a criminal investigation or litigation. This data was hardly something kept private or sacred to begin with.

    You'll probably like this website. It's got a lot on U.S. Privacy Law. It's a developing field of law, so for all I know, your viewpoints may become the majority. The last time I heard of privacy law being mentioned, it was a gag in Caddyshack.
    Privacy Law in the USA

  10. #10

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatio NOmenis View Post
    Mobile phone tracking information isn't something that's exactly kept private at all. It's not inherently attached to anything criminal, so there isn't 4'th amendment protection, and since it's not speech, there is no 1'st amendment protection for it. You can go online and get apps to track any mobile phone. without any sort of need, license, or background check. It's also possible to request tracking information from the phone companies in course of a criminal investigation or litigation. This data was hardly something kept private or sacred to begin with.
    The ability to live one's life without the details being recorded and scrutinized is a basic premise of liberty. That we are tracked electronically by various entities, which hope to turn this data into cash, is disturbing enough. That it is willingly shared with any number of enforcement agencies gives me pause.

    TED Blog | What data is being collected on you? Some shocking info
    RobynC thanked this post.


 

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