Via Talkleft, something I really don’t like:
Most Americans carry cellphones, but many may not know that government agencies can track their movements through the signals emanating from the handset.
In recent years, law enforcement officials have turned to cellular technology as a tool for easily and secretly monitoring the movements of suspects as they occur. But this kind of surveillance – which investigators have been able to conduct with easily obtained court orders – has now come under tougher legal scrutiny.
In the last four months, three federal judges have denied prosecutors the right to get cellphone tracking information from wireless companies without first showing “probable cause” to believe that a crime has been or is being committed. That is the same standard applied to requests for search warrants.
I have no problem with the government subpoenaing records to find out where an individual has been, but I do not like the idea of the government using cell phones to track people. Call me an alarmist, but I already don’t trust the power the authorities have already, and with the current crop of statists in Washington, it will be no time whatsoever before they are revising the Patriot Act to allow this kind of tracking without ever even having to go before a judge. Advocates are already laying the groundwork after several courts have decided to not allow this type of real-time tracking:
The recent rulings by the magistrates, who are appointed by a majority of the federal district judges in a given court, do not bind other courts. But they could significantly curtail access to cell location data if other jurisdictions adopt the same reasoning. (The government’s requests in the three cases, with their details, were sealed because they involve investigations still under way.)
“It can have a major negative impact,” said Clifford S. Fishman, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and a professor at the Catholic University of America’s law school in Washington. “If I’m on an investigation and I need to know where somebody is located who might be committing a crime, or, worse, might have a hostage, real-time knowledge of where this person is could be a matter of life or death.”
Ahh, the old ‘life or death’ scenario. Too bad he just couldn’t come out and say ‘ticking time bomb,’ because lord knows we will justify ANYTHING if there is a ticking time bomb involved.
No more. Not even in life or death cases. I love technology, but I do not like where this country is going. And I look silly in one of these.