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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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