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Appeals Court Delivers Devastating Blow to Cellphone-Privacy Advocates

MickeyW

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Courts across the country are grappling with a key question for the information age: When law enforcement asks a company for cellphone records to track location data in an investigation, is that a search under the Fourth Amendment?

By a 12-3 vote, appellate court judges in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday ruled that it is not — and therefore does not require a warrant.
https://theintercept.com/2016/05/31...stating-blow-to-cell-phone-privacy-advocates/
 

joG

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Courts across the country are grappling with a key question for the information age: When law enforcement asks a company for cellphone records to track location data in an investigation, is that a search under the Fourth Amendment?

By a 12-3 vote, appellate court judges in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday ruled that it is not — and therefore does not require a warrant.
https://theintercept.com/2016/05/31...stating-blow-to-cell-phone-privacy-advocates/

I would probably go much further and require every person with responsibilities for and power over others to record their activities 24/7 to be made public before court, when that might seem helpful. That way it would be quite okay to record movement of all mobiles, as misuse would be much more difficult.
 

Thoreau72

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Considering that a cellphone is but a radio, and that the airwaves were considered public back in about 1934, I agree with the court's interpretation.

If one is transmitting on a radio, it can be heard by anybody with a receiver.
 

Captain Adverse

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I have no problem with the court's decision. I agree that people who "voluntarily" divulge personal information to a third party during the use of that third party's services can expect no privacy protections.

The problem I have is with the invasive terms of service that most people either don't read, or don't worry about when they gleefully accept all these new convenient ways to seek and share information.

So many people have become slaves to information age technology that they rarely consider the consequences of something as simple as a "Google Search." Much less all the "radio traffic" involved in telecommunications sharing.

I realized this some years ago, and now I try to leave as small a footprint as I can.

I don't use Bing or Google; I have an old-style flip phone without tracking chips and only make verbal calls, no texting; and I stay off of social media sites (No Facebook or Twitter for me). Even so I recognize that something of me is still leaking out thanks to tracking cookies even when I do my best to avoid them, and I am not sure how much protection I really have.

To be honest, I don't think even a Supreme Court decision in favor of privacy protections would help, as the American corporate owners of the technologies will simply figure some way around it, and non-America companies will simply ignore it.
 
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jamesrage

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Courts across the country are grappling with a key question for the information age: When law enforcement asks a company for cellphone records to track location data in an investigation, is that a search under the Fourth Amendment?

By a 12-3 vote, appellate court judges in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday ruled that it is not — and therefore does not require a warrant.
https://theintercept.com/2016/05/31...stating-blow-to-cell-phone-privacy-advocates/
I have to wonder if those 9 retards in black robes know what the word "search" means. How the **** did they come to the conclusion that police searching through a privately owned company's records to be able to search for whom you called somehow did not constitute a search? Those 9 judges should be impeached.


Search | Define Search at Dictionary.com
to go or look through (a place, area, etc.) carefully in order to find something missing or lost:
They searched the woods for the missing child. I searched the desk for the letter.
2.
to look at or examine (a person, object, etc.) carefully in order to find something concealed:
He searched the vase for signs of a crack. The police searched the suspect for weapons.
3.
to explore or examine in order to discover:
They searched the hills for gold.
4.
to look at, read, or examine (a record, writing, collection, repository, etc.) for information:
to search a property title; He searched the courthouse for a record of the deed to the land.
5.
to look at or beneath the superficial aspects of to discover a motive, reaction, feeling, basic truth, etc.:
He searched her face for a clue to her true feelings.
6.
to look into, question, or scrutinize:
She searched her conscience.
7.
(of natural elements) to pierce or penetrate:
 

Ikari

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I'm sure glad big brother is here for me!
 

Frank Apisa

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It is almost certain that you have less personal privacy today than you had yesterday...and even more certain that you will have less tomorrow than you have today.

My suggestion would be: Get over it.

It is no big deal...and if it is...the ship has already sailed.
 

Thoreau72

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It is almost certain that you have less personal privacy today than you had yesterday...and even more certain that you will have less tomorrow than you have today.

My suggestion would be: Get over it.

It is no big deal...and if it is...the ship has already sailed.

If a person objects to metadata mining and such, my suggestion would be follow the practices of Captain Adverse. :mrgreen:
 

Frank Apisa

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If a person objects to metadata mining and such, my suggestion would be follow the practices of Captain Adverse. :mrgreen:

I guess!

For some...personal privacy is a very big thing.

For me...not very much.

It simply is not something I treasure...or guard.

But I understand those who consider it a special thing...and wish them the best of luck.

I stand by my thoughts, though: You had more yesterday than you have today...and tomorrow you will have less than you have today.
 

Thoreau72

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I guess!

For some...personal privacy is a very big thing.

For me...not very much.

It simply is not something I treasure...or guard.

But I understand those who consider it a special thing...and wish them the best of luck.

I stand by my thoughts, though: You had more yesterday than you have today...and tomorrow you will have less than you have today.

I place much value on privacy, but I also understand how radios work, and I have known since they came out that cellphones are radios, and I've known for years that the airways, even digital signals, are in the public domain, by statute, as they should be.
 

Bodhisattva

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Courts across the country are grappling with a key question for the information age: When law enforcement asks a company for cellphone records to track location data in an investigation, is that a search under the Fourth Amendment?

By a 12-3 vote, appellate court judges in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday ruled that it is not — and therefore does not require a warrant.
https://theintercept.com/2016/05/31...stating-blow-to-cell-phone-privacy-advocates/

It is no different than cops going around and asking witnesses (or watching video recordings) if you were at such and such location...
 

Kal'Stang

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Courts across the country are grappling with a key question for the information age: When law enforcement asks a company for cellphone records to track location data in an investigation, is that a search under the Fourth Amendment?

By a 12-3 vote, appellate court judges in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday ruled that it is not — and therefore does not require a warrant.
https://theintercept.com/2016/05/31...stating-blow-to-cell-phone-privacy-advocates/

Wrong call by those judges.

Despite what people are saying in this thread this isn't about picking stuff up out of the air like radio waves. This is about the cops asking a private company to provide records that they keep on privately owned servers. How is that NOT a violation of the 4th Amendment if it is done without a search warrant? It might not be a person that signed up with that companies cell plan 4th Amendment right being violated, but what about the companies 4th Amendment Rights?

And the reasoning that they used is BS also. You do not give up your 4th Amendment rights just because you gave out information to a 3rd party. You didn't give that information to the government. And its that government that the 4th Amendment protects against. Would such an argument work with attorney client privilege? The attorney is after all a 3rd party between the individual and the government.
 

HonestJoe

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Wrong call by those judges.

Despite what people are saying in this thread this isn't about picking stuff up out of the air like radio waves. This is about the cops asking a private company to provide records that they keep on privately owned servers. How is that NOT a violation of the 4th Amendment if it is done without a search warrant? It might not be a person that signed up with that companies cell plan 4th Amendment right being violated, but what about the companies 4th Amendment Rights?
If the police ask and the legal owners of the data voluntarily hand it over, I don’t see how it’s a violation. I would expect that the companies could refuse in which case the police would need to get a warrant naming the company (rather than the customer). I’m sure that the contracts we sign (generally without reading) with these companies include standard sections about passing data to law enforcement agencies.

If the police turn up to your home and ask to search for some illegal goods they believe are there, you’re perfectly entitled to let them in and they wouldn’t need a warrant (though you can also refuse, requiring them to get one). If they then find something illegal in plain sight belonging to one of your house guests, wouldn’t that be perfectly legal and legitimate? I’m in control of my home so if you take your property in to it, you have to accept that. I’m in control of my business servers so if you place your data on them, you have to accept that.

Would such an argument work with attorney client privilege? The attorney is after all a 3rd party between the individual and the government.
No, but only because attorney-client privilege (along with a couple of other special cases) is explicitly established in law. The very fact that is necessary suggests that the situation is different in standard business-client relationships.
 

Thoreau72

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Wrong call by those judges.

Despite what people are saying in this thread this isn't about picking stuff up out of the air like radio waves. This is about the cops asking a private company to provide records that they keep on privately owned servers. How is that NOT a violation of the 4th Amendment if it is done without a search warrant? It might not be a person that signed up with that companies cell plan 4th Amendment right being violated, but what about the companies 4th Amendment Rights?

And the reasoning that they used is BS also. You do not give up your 4th Amendment rights just because you gave out information to a 3rd party. You didn't give that information to the government. And its that government that the 4th Amendment protects against. Would such an argument work with attorney client privilege? The attorney is after all a 3rd party between the individual and the government.

As long as we're talking about cell phones, the reality is that they ARE radios, and they DO use the airwaves. It's true that the government gathers other, probably all, online data, including these words I type now, not on a cell phone.

Americans were rather deceived when cellphones first came out, as the cell phone industry lobbied for and achieved the passage of a silly statute forbidding americans from listening to cell conversations over their receivers. It reached the point that radio receivers sold in the US could not receive the cell bands, though that did not go into effect until the mid-90s as I recall.

Other countries in the world allowed such receivers, I still have one, but US citizens could not buy them after a certain date. That law promoted the illusion that cell phones were private. They were not and are not private.

Whether that entered into the court's analysis I do not know, but their decision comports with the reality of public airways.
 

Kal'Stang

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If the police ask and the legal owners of the data voluntarily hand it over, I don’t see how it’s a violation. I would expect that the companies could refuse in which case the police would need to get a warrant naming the company (rather than the customer). I’m sure that the contracts we sign (generally without reading) with these companies include standard sections about passing data to law enforcement agencies.

If the police turn up to your home and ask to search for some illegal goods they believe are there, you’re perfectly entitled to let them in and they wouldn’t need a warrant (though you can also refuse, requiring them to get one). If they then find something illegal in plain sight belonging to one of your house guests, wouldn’t that be perfectly legal and legitimate? I’m in control of my home so if you take your property in to it, you have to accept that. I’m in control of my business servers so if you place your data on them, you have to accept that.

I've read a few, they invariably mention warrants when it concerns police.

No, but only because attorney-client privilege (along with a couple of other special cases) is explicitly established in law. The very fact that is necessary suggests that the situation is different in standard business-client relationships.

And what about Roe vs Wade where a hospital is a 3rd party?

And why'd you skip the rest of that section?
 

Gaius46

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I have no problem with the court's decision. I agree that people who "voluntarily" divulge personal information to a third party during the use of that third party's services can expect no privacy protections.

The problem I have is with the invasive terms of service that most people either don't read, or don't worry about when they gleefully accept all these new convenient ways to seek and share information.

So many people have become slaves to information age technology that they rarely consider the consequences of something as simple as a "Google Search." Much less all the "radio traffic" involved in telecommunications sharing.

I realized this some years ago, and now I try to leave as small a footprint as I can.

I don't use Bing or Google; I have an old-style flip phone without tracking chips and only make verbal calls, no texting; and I stay off of social media sites (No Facebook or Twitter for me). Even so I recognize that something of me is still leaking out thanks to tracking cookies even when I do my best to avoid them, and I am not sure how much protection I really have.

To be honest, I don't think even a Supreme Court decision in favor of privacy protections would help, as the American corporate owners of the technologies will simply figure some way around it, and non-America companies will simply ignore it.

It doesn't follow that just because you've voluntarily given up some privacy to a private party in return for some benefit that you have also agreed to the same with a 3rd party - the government.

Further the fact of the matter is that eventually, and probably sooner rather than later, you will no choice at all. Old fashioned cell phones will be a thing of the past in the not too distant future and your only alternative at that point will be to not use digital devices at all. Given the march of technology it will eventually be impossible to live in modern society without one.
 

HonestJoe

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I've read a few, they invariably mention warrants when it concerns police.
They may well do but not necessarily exclusively (smart businesses don't restrict themselves unnecessarily). The point is that they're not specifically required to wait for a warrant before sharing information they're legally holding with appropriate law enforcement.

And what about Roe vs Wade where a hospital is a 3rd party?
I don't know that. It still implies specific legislation required beyond the default though.

And why'd you skip the rest of that section?
I felt I'd already covered that point. They're not "searching" you, they're "searching" the company. The company will have legal and contractual obligations to you but the government's obligations relate to the company. As I said, it's not unlike you leaving physical possessions (which may contain personal information) at someone else's house - the home owner could choose to grant the police entry without a warrant even though they would then gain sight of your property.

Don't get me wrong here - I think the police should be getting warrants in pretty much all cases (basically short of imminent threats), I just don't see the underlying legal requirement in this circumstance. If anything, claiming that greater legal restrictions already exist where they don't is entirely the wrong way to get the appropriate restrictions in place.
 

Visbek

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I have to wonder if those 9 retards in black robes know what the word "search" means.
Uh, you do realize this was a lower court panel of 15 judges, yes?


How the **** did they come to the conclusion that police searching through a privately owned company's records to be able to search for whom you called somehow did not constitute a search?
They asked the company for the records; the company voluntarily complied. It's a routine request. If the company refused the request, then the police would need a subpoena or warrant.

It's no different than a police officer asking you to voluntarily allow a search of your apartment. The officer does not need a warrant to make the request in the first place; the warrant is only required if you refuse the request.

So, the question is: Who owns your cell phone's location data, you or the phone company? It's obviously the cell phone company. It's collected by and stored on their equipment. You're giving information to a 3rd party (the phone company). They may be restricted from giving that information out to other private entities by some privacy policies or privacy laws, but they can choose to voluntarily provide it to the police.

Oh, and the same goes for email or files stored at services like Gmail, Hotmail, Dropbox and so on. If you own your own email server or own a server in a colo, they'd need a warrant.

This is not new, it's what police and phone companies already do (though the scope in this case is a bit larger than normal). This ruling is not a change in direction at all, the precedents are pretty clear.

And if you want it changed, you have to demand legislation. It seems unlikely the courts will rule otherwise any time soon.
 

Captain Adverse

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It doesn't follow that just because you've voluntarily given up some privacy to a private party in return for some benefit that you have also agreed to the same with a 3rd party - the government.

Further the fact of the matter is that eventually, and probably sooner rather than later, you will no choice at all. Old fashioned cell phones will be a thing of the past in the not too distant future and your only alternative at that point will be to not use digital devices at all. Given the march of technology it will eventually be impossible to live in modern society without one.

I guess if I survive that long I'll have to become a hermit in some mountain cave. Meanwhile, unless some highly motivated member(s) of the World's power elite take up the banner of privacy, the rest of us peons will remain screwed. :shrug:
 

Gaius46

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I guess if I survive that long I'll have to become a hermit in some mountain cave. Meanwhile, unless some highly motivated member(s) of the World's power elite take up the banner of privacy, the rest of us peons will remain screwed. :shrug:

Yeah you're probably right about that.
 
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