Posts Tagged ‘warrant’

Newest Gov’t Tracking Threat: Cell-Site Data Without a Warrant

December 19th, 2012 12:10 admin View Comments


An anonymous reader writes “Earlier this year, the Supreme Court put an end to warrantless GPS tracking. Now, federal prosecutors are trying to get similar data from a different source. A U.S. District Judge has ruled that getting locational data from cell towers in order to track suspects is just fine. ‘[Judge Huvelle] sidestepped the Fourth Amendment argument and declined to analyze whether the Supreme Court’s ruling in Jones’ case has any bearing on whether cell-site data can be used without a warrant. Instead, she focused on a doctrine called the “good-faith exemption,” in which evidence is not suppressed if the authorities were following the law at the time. The data in Jones’ case was coughed up in 2005, well before the Supreme Court’s ruling on GPS. “The court, however, need not resolve this vexing question of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, since it concludes that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies,” (.PDF) she wrote. … With that, prosecutors are legally in the clear to use Jones’ phone location records without a warrant.’”

Source: Newest Gov’t Tracking Threat: Cell-Site Data Without a Warrant

FBI Asked Megaupload To Preserve Pirated Files, Then Used Them Against Dotcom

November 24th, 2012 11:30 admin View Comments


avxo writes “According to an article on the New Zealand Herald, Kim Dotcom says his team has evidence showing that the Department of Homeland Security served a search warrant on Megaupload in 2010, forcing it to preserve pirated movies. According to Mr. Dotcom, those preserved movies are the center of the latest legal battle. ‘When the FBI applied to seize the Megaupload site in 2012, it said the company had failed to delete pirated content and cited the earlier search warrant against the continued existence of 36 of the same 39 files.’ He added: ‘[t]he FBI used the fact the files were still in the account of the … user to get the warrant to seize our own domains. This is outrageous.’”

Source: FBI Asked Megaupload To Preserve Pirated Files, Then Used Them Against Dotcom

Federal Judge Approves Warrantless, Covert Video Surveillance

October 31st, 2012 10:25 admin View Comments


Penurious Penguin writes “Your curtilage may be your castle, but ‘open fields’ are open game for law-enforcement and surveillance technology. Whether ‘No Trespassing’ signs are present or not, your private property is public for the law, with or without a warrant. What the police cannot do, their cameras can — without warrant or court oversight. An article at CNET recounts a case involving the DEA, a federal judge, and two defendants (since charged) who were subjected to video surveillance on private property without a warrant. Presumably, the 4th Amendment suffers an obscure form of agoraphobia further elucidated in the article.”

Source: Federal Judge Approves Warrantless, Covert Video Surveillance

Supreme Court Hearing Case On Drug-Sniffing Dog “Fishing Expeditions”

October 31st, 2012 10:03 admin View Comments


sgunhouse writes “Wired is running an article on a Supreme Court challenge (well, actually two of them) to the use of drug-sniffing dogs. The first case discussed involved Florida police using a drug-sniffing dog as a basis for searching a suspected drug dealer’s home. The court in Florida excluded the evidence obtained from the search, saying a warrant should be required for that sort of use of a dog. Personally, I agree — police have no right to parade a dog around on private property on a ‘fishing expedition’, same as they need a warrant to use a thermal imaging device to search for grow houses. I have no use for recreational drugs, but they had better have a warrant if they want to bring a dog onto my property.”

Source: Supreme Court Hearing Case On Drug-Sniffing Dog “Fishing Expeditions”

Stolen iPad’s Reported Location Not Enough To Warrant Search, Say Dutch Police

March 15th, 2012 03:30 admin View Comments


lbalbalba writes “A location message send from a stolen iPad by an anti-theft application, turns out to be insufficient evidence to issue a search warrant for the Dutch authorities. A Dutch man reported his iPad as stolen to the Dutch authorities last month. Despite the fact that the rightful owner was able to locate his iPad within hours of the theft, thanks to the anti-theft application he had installed, the Dutch authorities did not issue a warrant to perform a search. According to the prosecutors, a search warrant is ‘a very heavy measure,’ that should only be used when there is ‘sufficient suspicion.’ The theft report by the owner was viewed as ‘no objective evidence’ in the case.”

Source: Stolen iPad’s Reported Location Not Enough To Warrant Search, Say Dutch Police

Supreme Court Rules Warrants Needed for GPS Monitoring

January 23rd, 2012 01:59 admin View Comments


gambit3 writes “The Supreme Court has issued its ruling in the case of Washington, D.C. nightclub owner Antoine Jones, saying police must get a search warrant before using GPS technology to track criminal suspects. A federal appeals court in Washington overturned his drug conspiracy conviction because police did not have a warrant when they installed a GPS device on his vehicle and then tracked his movements for a month.”

Source: Supreme Court Rules Warrants Needed for GPS Monitoring

Judge Doesn’t Care About Supreme Court GPS Case

January 3rd, 2012 01:10 admin View Comments


nonprofiteer writes “The Supreme Court is currently deciding whether or not law enforcement needs a warrant before they put a GPS tracker on a person’s car. A judge in St. Louis doesn’t seem to care about that, though. He ruled last week (PDF) that the FBI didn’t need a warrant to track the car of a state employee they suspected was collecting a paycheck without actually going to work. (Their suspicions were confirmed.) While in favor of corrupt government employees being caught, it’s a bit disturbing that a federal judge would decide a warrant wasn’t needed while the Supreme Court has said the issue is unclear.”

Source: Judge Doesn’t Care About Supreme Court GPS Case

Twitter, WikiLeaks and the Troubling New Implications For Online Privacy

November 14th, 2011 11:15 admin View Comments

A U.S. Federal Court in Virginia caused quite a stir among digital privacy advocates last week when it ordered Twitter to grant the Justice Department access to private data from the accounts of three suspected WikiLeaks supporters. That data includes IP addresses, session times and relationships between other Twitter users.

Normally, requests for this type of information are not particularly controversial, but in this case a warrant was not required and the subjects of the data inquiries have not yet been charged with any crimes. The government is able to make such warrantless requests thanks to a 1994 law known as the Stored Communications Act.

It’s that lack of a need for the government to obtain a warrant that most troubles privacy advocates, given that the right to privacy was a bedrock principle in the founding of the United States and the ratification of its Constitution.

“We are gravely worried by the court’s conclusion that records about you that are collected by Internet services like Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Google are fair game for warrantless searches by the government,” said Electronic Frontier Foundation Legal Director Cindy Cohn.


If the name of Jacob Appelbaum sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the Tor developer whose Gmail data was handed over by Google to the U.S. government as part of the latter’s ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks and its supporters. Initially, Twitter had resisted requests to hand over its users’ data without notifying them. With this ruling, the government essentially tells technology companies that if the government comes asking for information about its users, they’d better give it up, warrant or not.

A Slippery Slope For Online Privacy?

As the W3C and tech companies continue to hammer out consumer privacy standards for things like browser-based user tracking, it appears that the real battleground for online privacy isn’t between companies and consumers, but rather at the point at which governments start demanding user data without a warrant.

The reason so many privacy advocates object to what Google and Twitter are doing isn’t so much out of sympathy for WikiLeaks, but rather the precedent that these rulings set.

The U.S. government is seeking information about WikiLeaks and supporters of the organization as part of an effort to build a legal case against it. Individuals like Appelbaum and Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir may appear to be logical targets in the quest for that information, but many wonder where the government’s right to access private data without a warrant begins and ends.

Collaboration, Support and Sympathy: Where Are the Lines?

In the case of WikiLeaks, the line between providing material support to the organization and simply being sympathetic to its goals can be very thin. Helping Julian Assange store or release classified diplomatic cables is one thing. What about donating money to WikiLeaks? Writing something sympathetic? What about the news organizations who have partnered with WikiLeaks to release information?

Some may counter that such an argument approaches logical fallacy. Yet students of U.S. history need look no further than the 1960s and 1970s for examples of law enforcement investigating and tracking citizens based on their political sentiments.

Certainly, much as changed since then, both politically and technologically. Perhaps most significantly, we are now generating and storing more data about our lives, relationships and intentions than at any point in human history, and we’re doing so largely on server farms owned and operated by people other than ourselves.

As the ruling judge himself wrote, users of online services have “a lessened expectation of privacy” when they agree to the terms of service for sites like Twitter and Facebook. That may or may not have been the understanding of the millions of users who have clicked that “OK” button, but it’s certainly good to know.

Photo of Jacob Appelbaum by Threat to Democracy

Source: Twitter, WikiLeaks and the Troubling New Implications For Online Privacy

Did Feds’ Use of Fake Cell Tower Constitute a Search?

November 5th, 2011 11:30 admin View Comments


hessian writes with this story in Wired: “Federal authorities used a fake Verizon cellphone tower to zero in on a suspect’s wireless card, and say they were perfectly within their rights to do so, even without a warrant. But the feds don’t seem to want that legal logic challenged in court by the alleged identity thief they nabbed using the spoofing device, known generically as a stingray. So the government is telling a court for the first time that spoofing a legitimate wireless tower in order to conduct surveillance could be considered a search under the Fourth Amendment in this particular case, and that its use was legal, thanks to a court order and warrant that investigators used to get similar location data from Verizon’s own towers.”

Source: Did Feds’ Use of Fake Cell Tower Constitute a Search?

Senator Introduces Bill To Stop Warrantless GPS Tracking

October 21st, 2011 10:19 admin View Comments


bs0d3 writes “Right now the police and FBI are able to use GPS tracking devices, stingrays, and other tracking technologies without a warrant. They can read your personal emails without a warrant, they can recall your phone call history, all without a warrant. These are clear violations of the fourth amendment, but time and time again the courts are ruling that the fourth amendment doesn’t protect people who use modern technology. This week Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Jason Chaffetz (D-UT) announced a bill with bipartisan support called the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act. It provides sorely needed legal clarity for the use of electronically-obtained location data that can be used to track and log the location and movements of individual Americans. The G.P.S. Act is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Constitution Project, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The full text of the bill can be read online.”

Source: Senator Introduces Bill To Stop Warrantless GPS Tracking