Posts Tagged ‘fourth amendment rights’

Judge: Cops Can Impersonate Owner Of Seized Cell Phones

July 20th, 2012 07:28 admin View Comments


Aryden writes with news of a recent court decision in which a judge ruled it was acceptable for police to impersonate the owner of a cell phone they had seized, in order to extract information from the owner’s friends. The ruling stems from an incident in 2009 when police officers seized the iPhone of a suspected drug dealer, then used text messages to set up a meeting with another person seeking drugs. “‘There is no long history and tradition of strict legislative protection of a text message sent to, displayed, and received from its intended destination, another person’s iPhone,’ Penoyar wrote in his decision. He pointed to a 1990 case in which the police seized a suspected drug dealer’s pager as an example. The officers observed which phone numbers appeared on the pager, called those numbers back, and arranged fake drug purchases with the people on the other end of the line. A federal appeals court held that the pager owner’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure were not violated because the pager is ‘nothing more than a contemporary receptacle for telephone numbers,’ akin to an address book. The court also held that someone who sends his phone number to a pager has no reasonable expectation of privacy because he can’t be sure that the pager will be in the hands of its owner. Judge Penoyar said that the same reasoning applies to text messages sent to an iPhone. While text messages may be legally protected in transit, he argued that they lose privacy protections once they have been delivered to a target device in the hands of the police.

Source: Judge: Cops Can Impersonate Owner Of Seized Cell Phones

Control: China Launches National GPS System

December 28th, 2011 12:30 admin View Comments

sputnik 150.jpgThe urge for control is powerful, made exponentially more so whenever two or more representatives of a government get together. Among the more prominent, and ridiculous, examples of this trend are Iran’s attempt to create a “halal” Internet (ostensibly to safeguard Muslim sensibilities, in reality to control the political thought of Iranian citizens) and the American former intelligence chief’s proposal for a “.secure” Internet in which users would voluntarily give up their Fourth Amendment rights.

Add to this China’s “national” global positioning system. This Chinese satellite navigation network will obviate the need to use the Pentagon-created and U.S.-run GPS system, which dominates location technology worldwide.


This strictly Chinese system, according to a defense tech expert in today’s Wall Street Journal, “could help the Chinese military to identify, track and strike U.S. ships in the region in the event of armed conflict.” It has already been used to coordinate the movement of Chinese troops.

The network, called the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BNSS), began transmitting yesterday, after 11 years of development. It consists of 10 satellites, with another six slated for deployment in the coming year. The BNSS is run by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, a state contractor serving the nation’s space program and run by the Chinese military.

Since 2009, China has been very busy launching satellites, and learning from the successes and failures of those deployments. The BNSS is not believed to be as accurate as the GPS system, but it may, in time, get there. Bedou, which means Big Dipper in Mandarin, is only the first step toward a global system, called Compass, which is slated to have 35 functioning satellites around the world by 2020.

Like the GPS system, the BNSS would also make its data available for developers. Now, if you’re uneasy with the notion of high-tech governmental scrutiny in an occasionally transparent, more-or-less representational democracy, imagine the kind of fun the government of China could have not just with a high-resolution, wide-coverage satellite network, but with that scifi scrutiny wired into a suite of ubiquitous consumer goods.

The only other GPS alternative is Russia’s Glonass. The European Union is building its own, called Galileo, also scheduled to go live by 2020.

Sputnik graphic via Bruce Irving

Source: Control: China Launches National GPS System

Mass. Court Says Constitution Protects Filming On-Duty Police

August 28th, 2011 08:03 admin View Comments


Even in a country and a world where copyright can be claimed as an excuse to prevent you from taking a photo of a giant sculpture in a public, tax-paid park, and openly recording visiting police on your own property can be construed as illegal wiretapping, it sometimes seems like the overreach of officialdom against people taking photos or shooting video knows no bounds. It’s a special concern now that seemingly everyone over the age of 10 is carrying a camera that can take decent stills and HD video. it’s refreshing, therefore, to read that a Federal Appeals Court has found unconstitutional the arrest of a Massachusetts lawer who used his phone to video-record an arrest on the Boston Common. (Here’s the ruling itself, as a PDF.) From the linked article, provided by reader schwit1: “In its ruling, which lets Simon Glik continue his lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the wiretapping statute under which Glik was arrested and the seizure of his phone violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights.”

Source: Mass. Court Says Constitution Protects Filming On-Duty Police

Ex-NSA Chief Supports Separate Secure Internet

July 9th, 2011 07:32 admin View Comments

The Internet

Hugh Pickens writes “Nextgove reports that Michael Hayden, former director of both the NSA and the CIA, says the United States may seriously want to consider creating a new Internet infrastructure to reduce the threat of cyberattacks and several current federal officials, including U.S. Cyber Command chief Gen. Keith Alexander, also have floated the concept of a ‘.secure’ network for critical services such as financial institutions, sensitive infrastructure, government contractors, and the government itself that would be walled off from the public web. Unlike .com, .xxx and other new domains now proliferating the Internet, .secure would require visitors to use certified credentials for entry and would do away with users’ Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. ‘I think what Keith is trying to suggest is that we need a more hardened enterprise structure for some activities and we need to go build it,’ says Hayden. ‘All those people who want to violate their privacy on Facebook — let them continue to play.’ Clay Dillow writes that on the existing internet everyone does everything online anonymously, and while that’s great for liberties, it’s also dangerous when cyber criminals/foreign hackers are roaming the cyber countryside. Under the proposed .secure internet ‘you may not be able to go to certain neighborhoods of the Web without showing your papers at a checkpoint — and perhaps subjecting yourself to one of those humiliating electronic pat-downs as well,’ writes Dillow. ‘Those who want to remain anonymous on the Web can still frolic about in the world of dot-com, but in the dot-secure realm you would have to prove you are you.’”

Source: Ex-NSA Chief Supports Separate Secure Internet

Court Case To Test Legality of Recording the Police With Your Cell Phone

June 10th, 2011 06:00 admin View Comments


suraj.sun sends this excerpt from Ars Technica: “If you pull out your cell phone to make a video of police officers arresting a suspect, are you ‘secretly recording’ them? ‘No’ seems like the obvious answer, but that’s precisely the claim that three police officers made to justify their arrest of a Boston man. In arguments before the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on Wednesday, the city also denied the man’s claim that his First or Fourth Amendment rights had been violated. The case will be an important test of whether the Constitution protects individuals’ right to record the police while they are on duty. Many states have ‘one-party notification’ wiretapping laws that allow any party to a conversation to secretly record it. But under the strict ‘two-party notification’ laws in Massachusetts, it’s a crime to ‘secretly record’ audio communications unless ‘all parties to such communication’ have given their consent. The police arrested Glik for breaking this law. For good measure, they also charged Glik—who did no more than stand a few feet away with his cell phone—with ‘aiding the escape of a prisoner’ and ‘disturbing the peace.’”

Source: Court Case To Test Legality of Recording the Police With Your Cell Phone

The Fourth Amendment and the Cloud

January 19th, 2010 01:10 admin View Comments

CNET has up a blog post examining the question: does the Fourth Amendment apply to data stored in the Cloud? The US constitutional amendment forbidding unreasonable searches and seizures is well settled in regard to the physical world, but its application to electronic communications and computing lags behind. The post’s argument outlines a law review article (PDF) from a University of Minnesota law student, David A. Couillard. “Hypothetically, if a briefcase is locked with a combination lock, the government could attempt to guess the combination until the briefcase unlocked; but because the briefcase is opaque, there is still a reasonable expectation of privacy in the unlocked container. In the context of virtual containers in the cloud…encryption is not simply a virtual lock and key; it is virtual opacity. … [T]he service provider has a copy of the keys to a user’s cloud ‘storage unit,’ much like a landlord or storage locker owner has keys to a tenant’s space, a bank has the keys to a safe deposit box, and a postal carrier has the keys to a mailbox. Yet that does not give law enforcement the authority to use those third parties as a means to enter a private space. The same rationale should apply to the cloud.” We might wish that the courts interpreted Fourth Amendment rights in this way, but so far they have not.

Source: The Fourth Amendment and the Cloud