Cell phone spying
Dec 1st, 2009 by Ken Hagler

Sprint fed cus­tomer GPS data to cops over 8 mil­lion times.

Christo­pher Soghoian, a grad­u­ate stu­dent at Indi­ana University’s School of Infor­mat­ics and Com­put­ing, has made pub­lic an audio record­ing of Sprint/Nextel’s Elec­tronic Sur­veil­lance Man­ager describ­ing how his com­pany has pro­vided GPS loca­tion data about its wire­less cus­tomers to law enforce­ment over 8 mil­lion times. That’s poten­tially mil­lions of Sprint/Nextel cus­tomers who not only were prob­a­bly unaware that their wire­less provider even had an Elec­tronic Sur­veil­lance Depart­ment, but who cer­tainly did not know that law enforce­ment offers could log into a spe­cial Sprint Web por­tal and, with­out ever hav­ing to demon­strate prob­a­ble cause to a judge, gain access to geolo­ca­tion logs detail­ing where they’ve been and where they are. 

Read the rest of this article...

[Ars Tech­nica]

It’s well known by now (at least, to any­one who pays atten­tion) that cell phones are used to spy on the loca­tion and move­ment of their own­ers. This is the first solid infor­ma­tion I’ve seen on just how often the cops spy on people–and keep in mind that this is only one com­pany. It’s pretty much guar­an­teed that other com­pa­nies are equally eager to col­lab­o­rate with Big Brother. 

More police state surveillance
May 15th, 2009 by Ken Hagler

No War­rant Required in U.S. for GPS Track­ing.

At least, accord­ing to a U.S. Dis­trict Court rul­ing:

As the law cur­rently stands, the court said police can mount GPS on cars to track peo­ple with­out vio­lat­ing their con­sti­tu­tional rights — even if the dri­vers aren’t sus­pects.

Offi­cers do not need to get war­rants before­hand because GPS track­ing does not involve a search or a seizure, Judge Paul Lund­sten wrote for the unan­i­mous three-judge panel based in Madison.

That means “police are seem­ingly free to secretly track anyone’s pub­lic move­ments with a GPS device,” he wrote.

The court wants the leg­is­la­ture to fix it:

How­ever, the Dis­trict 4 Court of Appeals said it was “more than a lit­tle trou­bled” by that con­clu­sion and asked Wis­con­sin law­mak­ers to reg­u­late GPS use to pro­tect against abuse by police and pri­vate indi­vid­u­als.

I think the odds of that hap­pen­ing are approx­i­mately zero.

[Schneier on Secu­rity]

I agree. Also note that this really only applies to cops spy­ing on dri­vers who don’t have cell phones. If you’ve got a cell phone, it’s sim­pler and cheaper for the cops to spy on you using the track­ing device you paid for and vol­un­teered to carry around rather than going to the trou­ble of bug­ging your car.

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