Appeals Court Empowers Police to Track Suspects by Cell Phone Sans Warrant

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pastorbob

Well, if the government or the police want to track my cell phone then more power to them. My life is more boring than a foreign language film festival without subtitles. Tracking me could be used as a cure for insomnia. And since I have been using the 'net for over fifteen years my tracks are all over cyber space already in spite of my attempts to avoid leaving traces.

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Bullwinkle J Moose

then you probably don't need to make any calls when you get to wherever it is you're going

My phone, however, had a nasty habbit of having a dead battery whenever I got to where I was going so I simply pull out the fully charged battery before I go anywhere and pop it in whenever I need a phone

The battery keeps going for several days with the phone on if I don't go anywhere

Wierd

Maybe they are trying to make us paranoid

or maybe its a crappy phone

pretty scary stuff.....

to think that you can still buy a crappy phone these days

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Newk Yuler

When a technology is accessible and a potential for abuse or use for something other than the intended purpose exists, it will eventually get used for unintended purposes. Police agencies years ago used LoJack to find people when it had nothing to do with locating a stolen vehicle. Cell phone tracking and monitoring will get used with knee-jerk, self serving justification and flagrantly abused when there is no fear or worry of consequences.

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Eoraptor

Hail big brother! In an age when some sort of mobile device is almost a prerequisite for living, the authorities are now allowed to track you via chips in your pocket. This obviously will be appealed, and I am glad it was not unanimous.

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drevas

I wouldn't get your panties in a twist just yet. This was a 3 member Appeals Court and the decision wasn't unanimous. Something tells me that we haven't heard the last word on this.

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DR_JDUBZ

For dumb criminals this would work, as for criminals who know what they are doing, all they do is buy a bunch of phones activated with different numbers and even carriers. Use 1 for a week and then throw it away. the police wont ever be able to track them. all it takes is the suspuct throwing the phone out in the middle of no where. where do the police go? middle of nowhere and find no suspect.

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Nimrod

what you should be more afraid of is the fact that they are not only seeing where you are, but also listening to everything the mic pics up and are looking thru your phone camera as well.

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Mikey109105

Once again, as I had said in the article about a Samsung designer being told he can't testify in his company's defense: All aboard the USA Justice System failboat!!!!

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michaelnomad

The hound dogs in the analogy are chasing a fugative... someone who has been or is in the proccess of being arrested. I don't think that they are used to track (presumed) innocent citizens.
If the police can do this without a warrent, then soon they'll use it for whatever they want (seeing where their girlfriend was last night, etc.). If they have good reason, then they should be able to get a warrent.

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The Second Comi...

Yes, Chicken Pants loves the logic. If you own a jar of Vaseline, just don't cry you're getting screwed in the ass by Uncle.

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RaptorJohnson

I'm all for privacy, but this kind of makes sense to me.

This ruling doesn't affect our privacy, because, warrant or not, we are already being tracked.

If an unscrupulous member of law enforcement wants to track our location for unauthorized reasons (eg stalking an ex) that is already illegal and more laws will not fix that.

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sundropdrinker3

It makes no sense, as it DOES affect our privacy. Contrary to what someone below here said, the federal government CAN track everyone. I'm not saying that they do, just saying that they can. Very simple too. Large amounts of storage, and basically get a snapshot maybe every 5 minutes of where you are. Then if the local law enforcement needs you, they send the request up to the feds. Simple. The government doesn't need to know where I am, nor what I'm doing, nor what I'm eating. Millions of people fled the USSR for this very reason.

As to the stupidest argument of "if you aren't doing anything wrong, then you shouldn't worry", that's the biggest load of crap. If you even knew what happened in the courts you wouldn't be saying that. False accusations happen ALL the time, mainly because someone got mad at someone else. Judges get tired of seeing 100+ people a day, so they convict people with little to no evidence. Hell, I even had evidence showing my innocence but I was still found guilty. I won on appeal, but it cost me an extra $10,000. So anyone who says "if you are law abiding then fear not" can blow it out of their ass.

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Scatter

I have no problem with this. If you don't like it then turn the GPS unit on your phone off. The police would still need evidence of a crime to actually arrest you.

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Nimrod

Stupid, turning the GPS off doesnt stop them, that has been known for years already. In fact, turning your entire phone completely off doesnt stop them either. And what you should be more afraid of is the fact that they are not only seeing where you are, but also listening to everything the mic pics up and are looking thru your phone camera as well.

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vrmlbasic

If the cops can extract the GPS positioning from your phone remotely then something is terribly, terribly wrong.

I thought that the cops decided to track the phone by triangulating its position from the cell phone towers it connects to, which you can't disable and still use the phone.

The cell phone towers are the private property of cell phone companies, last I heard, and I don't like how the government can force them to divulge information on their customers at just a whim. Without the need for a warrant and judicial oversight, the cops can track any and everyone by their phones. The phone companies should be irked at this, but I'm sure they've been coerced into accepting it.

How does the government justify forcing a private company to manipulate the functionality of the private property (cell phones) of private citizens to spy upon them?

I am not okay with this flagrant violation of the role of government, which has set the stage for further and more heinous violations, just to bust some dumbass and his trailer full of weed.

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Scatter

I find it funny that people freely give Angry Birds and pretty much every other phone application the right to do exactly this and a whole lot more but when the police use this information to track fugitives suddenly everyone's all up in arms about it.

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Biceps

Well, your argument would carry more water if the government were actually 'forcing' the companies to divulge this information. Most phone companies (all of the large ones) work happily with law enforcement.

I have to admit the blood-hound analogy makes sense, but I don't like the verdict either. I do carry a tracking device on me, courtesy of my cell phone, but I also had a certain expectation of privacy, and thought it would at the very least require a warrant for the police to access that information.

Based on this verdict, is there anything to stop the police from tracking everybody's cell phone, all the time? Because those phone also carry audio recording devices and cameras, does it mean the police can use them, since they are there anyway? I'm not clear where the line is drawn, and I think the judge's interpretation of the law here was too simplistic.

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ApathyCurve

"Based on this verdict, is there anything to stop the police from tracking everybody's cell phone, all the time?"

Yes, there is: device proliferation and preponderance of information. It is a practical impossibility for them to effectively track and monitor more than a small number of devices, simply due to the fact that so many exist and law enforcement has limited resources available. Their sheer numbers provide you with default anonymity -- unless you do something that flags you to the system.

It's similar to the principle credit card companies use to spot when your card might have been stolen. There's no one actually reviewing every purchase you make. It's only when certain events occur (a large purchase at a location a thousand miles away from a "normal" purchase that occurred just a few minutes earlier is an example) that the expert system sets a flag and a customer service rep places a call to inquire about your recent purchases.

If somebody really wants to track your movements, there's nothing at all you can do to prevent it. Hiding in your house will just make it easier for them. I suppose you could move to a deserted island if it concerns you that much, but I rather enjoy air conditioning and rich food, myself. Civilization and its attendant technology has inherent trade-offs and risk/benefit ratios. The law cannot (and I would argue, should not) alleviate every possible nefarious use of technology. Too many laws are even worse than not enough laws.

I won't discuss what my uncle, a career sheriff's deputy, has told me about the black boxes in modern automobiles. It would just agitate the tinfoil hat crowd even more.

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Hey.That_Dude

So if it is SOOOOOOOO difficult to track so many devices, then why don't they just go get a damn warrant for the few they want to track?

I found the blood hound analogy amusing. If a blood hound could track me over a thousand miles, I'd eat my shoe. Complete bull! If they had so much suspicion that they devoted police resources to bust the guy, then they had the resources to get a warrant. No matter how you slice it it's just too simple to do it the right way.

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praack

but the issue here is privacy- any law on the books could then justify the use of cell phone invasion without a warrent.

so you do scoop up your dog poop all the time? don't laugh in the uk this is allowed for video surveleince per thier terrorost act.

Privacy advocates look out for us- because otherwise we would have bugs in our houses all converstaion tracked and have to explain anything that is parsed out as potentially illegal or might become so.

asking for a warrent is not as bad as it would seem- judges are avaialble and do get paid to be on call - there is not reams of red tape - but there does need to be a justification. in this case they had one- but did not wish to get "bother"

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praack

but the issue here is privacy- any law on the books could then justify the use of cell phone invasion without a warrent.

so you do scoop up your dog poop all the time? don't laugh in the uk this is allowed for video surveleince per thier terrorost act.

Privacy advocates look out for us- because otherwise we would have bugs in our houses all converstaion tracked and have to explain anything that is parsed out as potentially illegal or might become so.

asking for a warrent is not as bad as it would seem- judges are avaialble and do get paid to be on call - there is not reams of red tape - but there does need to be a justification. in this case they had one- but did not wish to get "bother"

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iheartpcs

Why would privacy advocates have a problem with this? Are they committing crimes and don't want to get caught? Or do they believe that drug runners should have their privacy too?

If you aren't a criminal, the police aren't going to waste time following you.

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mls067

ugh, I really hate that "if you're not doing anything wrong so why worry" argument when it comes to personal privacy. It's weird too, come to my neighborhood and see all the 6 foot privacy fences we have put up so our neighbor's cannot see what we are doing in our back yards, but tell those same people we are taking away your privacy for the sake of a few drug runners and everyone yells "cool, lets do it!" It's mind boggling.

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iheartpcs

I appreciate that you hate the "if you're not doing anything wrong so why worry" argument but that's not what I said. I said the cops wont waste time following people who aren't doing anything wrong. If a cop was tracking me, he would get bored real fast and move on to someone else who maybe is dealing drugs or hurting someone.

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Scatter

And I really hate it when people take a generally hostile attitude towards the police and law enforcement in general and feel that they shouldn't be able to take advantage of any of the technologies that the criminals are using.

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Hey.That_Dude

No ones saying they shouldn't. They are saying that there should be a procedure about how to do it correctly and legally.
One great example is the "Elephant in a match-box." Can't arrest them for having an ounce of weed in a box if you were only there looking for humans being held hostage. Go back, get the warrant, then arrest them.
I digress. They need to get a warrant to do anything that they wouldn't be able to do by person. (i.e. unless someone tailed him all the way from Arizona to check to see if he had or sold weed, then you need a warrant.)

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vrmlbasic

Clearly you're not a science fiction fan, or you're just trolling us. Hell, there's no way you _aren't_ trolling with such a profoundly ignorant comment.

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iheartpcs

I'm a huge sci-fi fan but what does enjoying fantasies have to do with reality?

Clearly you prefer abusing others instead of having intellectual debates.

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