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back to article Judge OKs warrantless tracking of suspect's cellphone

Investigators seeking the location history of an armed robbery suspect's cellphone aren't required to obtain a search warrant before compelling the carrier to turn over the information, a federal judge has ruled. The decision, issued by US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the District of Columbia, said the Stored …

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Anonymous Coward

Meh

Just means he has really good grounds for an appeal.

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Big Brother

Bill of Rights?

Never heard of 'em....

Where is the "Running rough-shod over your rights" icon?

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Silver badge

Mission creep.

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Windows

SMLC

Serving Mobile Location Centre. Took 2 months to learn it. Based on Linux.

When I trained this to AT&T/Cingular in Seattle, it was designed to save lives.

It could get you to about 50 metres. Maybe less.

Never thought it'd be used for this.

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Headmaster

Surveil?

Why use such a mangled word when english already has plenty of well known, ready to use words?

follow

monitor

track

spy

survey

watch

etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Reasonable expectation of privacy?

It's a catch22.

Knowing the location of the caller is required by law as part of the 911 (emergency services) system. There's good reason for this....

So how can there be a reasonable expectation of privacy?

There is no law requiring you to carry a cell phone...

I can see it now... " Your honor, my client is innocent because the gps tracking in his cell phone showed him in the apartment when the crime took place. ..."

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Big Brother

Reasonable expectation of privacy!

Just because the authorities *can* find the location of a phone in case of emergency, doesn't mean that they should automatically be allowed to do that with *any* phone at *any* time of their choosing without going through the required legal process.

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Thumb Down

Correction:

Why should they need to know your location when you make calls other than to 911?

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@Old Handle

If they have legitimate grounds for tracing a phone call, then, just as with land lines, they can get a warrant to do so. But "Because we want to" coupled with a decision by an ignorant Judge aren't legitimate grounds.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Reasonable Expectation of Privacy...

Ok here's a better explanation. Assume you're in the US so that we can keep this in perspective of US laws.

Suppose you and your friend are in a public place, like a pub and you're discussing how you're going to break in to the house and steal stuff. Someone overhears your conversation and alerts the police.

Your lawyer tries to get that evidence of the conversation tossed...

Since your conversation was in public place, there was no expectation of privacy.

Suppose you had the same conversation on your portable house phone and someone was listening on a scanner. (Assume you have an unencrypted analog 900MHz phone...) The person then alerts the police.

Here your lawyer gets the conversation tossed along with getting the guy who was eavesdropping on you tossed in jail. Why? Because you had a reasonable expectation of privacy when you were talking on the phone.

So while talking on your mobile phones, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That it would require a search warrant to get to tap your actual phone conversation. However,

because the broadcast information of your phone's position is part of the technical operations of the cellular service, there is no expectation of privacy. All phones do this as part of their normal operations. Therefore the courts have ruled that there's a lower standard to get this information.

You are not required by law to actually own a cell phone, or carry one with you at all times.

So the bottom line... if you're going to commit the crime. leave the cell at home or get a burn phone. (Just like you see it on the telly in the cop shows... ;-)

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Devil

Legalists polluting the world for you.

No problem, everything can be discussed to death and spun in any amount of 2πα.

I suppose that at some point, we will be hearing that using a drone to kill some dude under reasonable suspicion of having stolen, say, "Intellectual Property" is indeed A-OK.

Hold on for dear life, because with a President that is a Snowhead followed by one that is Constitutional Scholar, one can go places!

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Ummm...what's the difference with judges handing out search warrants without any discrimination anyway? After all, how often do you hear of a search warrant being refused? All it does is prolong the inevitable lack of privacy we are now experiencing.

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Facepalm

why would a refused warrant be publicized? it doesnt make good news articles except in big cases, where the feds will have most likely done their homework on the issue anyway

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Anonymous Coward

Warrantless Tracking

What's the difference. Judges indiscriminantly issue warrants anyway. When did a judge last refuse to issue a warrant? All this does is speed up the process.

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WTF?

'interpretation of cellphone calls as “wire communications”'

Hasn't he heard of this clever modern invention called "wireless"?

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Anonymous Coward

Virtually all wireless communications are heavily dependent on a wired backbone. The wired connection provides a fast and stable connection between the wireless base stations. Many protocols also require a connection be made to a wired-up and centralized control station before the actual connection takes place.

There is the occasional exception of a wireless mesh network, but even those have to connect to a wired network for greater Internet access.

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Genuine question

If no judge is involved to define the scope of the tracking, how do you make the difference between

"We thought the robber might be this guy but he was actually 2 miles away from there"

and

"This guy was not the robber after all: he was 2 miles away from there, at or close to the location of Inspector Callahan's house where Ms Callahan was alone at the time. Later that day the innocented suspect inavertently stepped over the safety rail and fell down the highway bridge, in front of a wood log truck. Ms Callahan now sports a black eye, two broken teeth and belt buckle marks on her back but it's completely unrelated."

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Surely anyone who really wants to mask their location for the purpose of wrong doing is going to use a PAYG phone/sim in a false name and as a precaution leaving his 'named' mobile somewhere that would support a potential alibi

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So if the suspect's phone suggest he may have been nearby, that'll be added to the evidence against him. But if he (and his lawyers) are unaware that this search has been made, will they still get this evidence in their favour if it turns out that his phone was somewhere else entirely? Or will that just get swept under the carpet as though it had never been checked?

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FAIL

How to stitch up a felllow crim..

Step 1: Borrow / steal your crim mate's phone or swap out the sim cards.

Step 2: Commit crime in possession of crim's phone.

Step 3: Observe as authorities decide a genius idea to help solve crime is they will look at known crim mobile numbers against crime location / time.

Step 4: Crim mate gets shortlisted and you provide evidence along the lines of: "Oh yea, i saw him walking back with that massive telly / bags of money / old lady's diamond jewellery...

Step 5: Sell ill-gotten things on Fleabay.

Step 6: Profit! No need for ???

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Anonymous Coward

Communications Company Information

If any law enforcement shows up at my company wanting cell phone logs or anything of that nature, the first thing they will be asked is "Do you have a court issued warrant?". If the answer is no, then they will not get access. NO exceptions.

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Communication Company Information

You might want to look into how that worked out for Qwest, and its CEO.

"Nice little comms company you have here. It'd be a shame if something happened to it, and you..."

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WTF?

Why?

Why is it such an onerous task to get a fucking warrant?

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