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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
not firearm related, but it's a good example of what government agencies think about our constitutional rights.

Verizon Communications, the nation's second-largest telecom company, told congressional investigators that it has provided customers' telephone records to federal authorities in emergency cases without court orders hundreds of times since 2005.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/15/AR2007101501857.html?hpid=topnews

they were discussing this on Fox news tonight. I was alarmed to hear them debating after-the-fact warrants. some people thought it was just fine for the government to get a warrant after the arrests/seizures were made.
 

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Umm--depends on what Verizon gives them.

The governing phrase is reasonable expectation of privacy --tapping the actual phone call itself usually requires a warrant (see Katz v. US) meeting 4th Amendment standards. Pen registers such as what numbers you call or receive, ip addresses, account information such as billing info, that does not refer to content has to meet a lower standard than warrants. The law enforcement folks simply need to certify that the information is "relevant" to an investigation and at that point a judge "shall issue" an order to the company to provide the info. Under current Sup. Ct. caselaw, pen registers are outside of the constitutional 4th amendment protections (see Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979)) and are only protected by a 1986 statute by Congress, see this link to the Pen Register Act provisions (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html ... -000-.html). Furthermore, there is an emergency escape clause here for law enforcement in this law(http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html ... -000-.html) that permits designated prosecutors to get the orders subsequent to after the fact orders (normally within 48 hours).

The major justification coming from Smith is that you have a lower reasonable expectation of privacy (if any) when dealing with things such as businesses because they are forced by government to keep all sorts of cash and credit receipts (for sales taxes), sales records for taxes, etc. that incidentally may contain information about you. Since you did business with the company, you shared your secret information with that business knowing that phone numbers etc. were tracked for billing purposes. Any person at Verizon working the billing dept, customer service, etc. could reasonably see this data and thus the objective expectation of privacy is lower for these records and does not meet the standard for constitutional protection and thus leaving it outside of the exclusionary rule's protections during trials.

In the story cited, it appears that this involves data and phone communications of U.S. Citizens with foreign nationals which is whole 'nother can of worms. When dealing with purported national security issues, there is a constitutional separation of powers issue when dealing with communications of any sort with foreign powers. Congress has tried to deal with that issue through FISA (and its subsequent revision this year) but Attorney Generals since the original law was passed (see Griffin Bell's comment as AG in 1978) have repeatedly claimed that the President has some residual powers in this area that cannot be abriged by Congress through statute. This is a murky area that often cannot fully be explained without some careful background reading regarding past practices and abuses, limitations of technology used, and exactly what sort of data is sought. Unfortunately, much of our signal interception techniques and methods involves our crown jewels of intelligence and is easily circumvented if known (for some unclassified examples see stuff on ULTRA and PURPLE intercepts during WWII--Arguably, an intercept of Japanese communications made the Miracle of Midway possible.) Long answer to short question. You can also find a good discussion by some former DOJ law profs at volokh.com regarding these issues (Orin Kerr in particular).

As usual, your opinions and mileage may vary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thanks for the enlightenment. it still doesn't make me feel any better about it. having degrees of privacy is a slippery slope, especially in the hands of a large government.

supposedly the information they gave them was at least who all the party called, and in some cases, who all the called called. citing foreign national calls (alluding to terrorists/outside threats) may sound alright to some on the surface. but, i'm sure everyone here knows the "sacrificing liberty for security" dilemma.

given the number of incidents, and loopholes like in the patriot act as to who can be considered a terrorist...it'd be hard to convince me there are no abuses going on.
 
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Spying is one thing, but I have seen several cases where County 911 has worked with Cellular providers to get GPS coordinates of suicide cases.
 
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Too bad, they have the ability to do some real good [Use GPS to direct emergency services to the scene of an emrgency] and they use it for Big Bad Brother... For shame :(
 

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I know the GPS probably always work, but there's an E-911 setting (or something like that) on my phone. I have it set to broadcast only when I call 911. I know that it can probably still be used to track no matter what.
 

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I read an article about a year ago in Car and Driver magazine. It was discussing the posibility of the government writing speeding tickets to and individual by way of using your cell phone as a GPS device, and from that they can tell your average speed from point A to B.

Big brother at it again and again and again.
 

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ls1ssdavid said:
I read an article about a year ago in Car and Driver magazine. It was discussing the posibility of the government writing speeding tickets to and individual by way of using your cell phone as a GPS device, and from that they can tell your average speed from point A to B.

Big brother at it again and again and again.
It is disabled when the handset is not turned on.
 

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Taler said:
ls1ssdavid said:
I read an article about a year ago in Car and Driver magazine. It was discussing the posibility of the government writing speeding tickets to and individual by way of using your cell phone as a GPS device, and from that they can tell your average speed from point A to B.

Big brother at it again and again and again.
It is disabled when the handset is not turned on.
More importantly, it's also not being used right now. There's a lot of :foilhat: going on in this thread.
 

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Taler said:
ls1ssdavid said:
I read an article about a year ago in Car and Driver magazine. It was discussing the posibility of the government writing speeding tickets to and individual by way of using your cell phone as a GPS device, and from that they can tell your average speed from point A to B.

Big brother at it again and again and again.
It is disabled when the handset is not turned on.
I read that too.
 

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There is quite a bit of info you car/truck can tell Big Brother about you...

If you have On-Star or a similar service, your location and speed can be tracked.

If you have a newer model vehicle with a "black box", it constantly records information and can be queried as to the last 15 (I think) seconds prior to a crash. It knows how fast you were going, if you were accelerating, braking, skidding, etc.

Combine that with info as to whether or not you were on your cell phone when you hit that tree...... and your insurance company may give you problems especially in locations where cell phone usage is prohibited whilst driving.

This isn't something that could happen. It's already in place but, so far, I don't think any government agencies have officially requested such data.

However (and this is a big HOWEVER), currently there is a big push from car insurance companies for access to such data. I worry more about them than the government....!

:twisted:
 

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Why I don't have one

This is the exact reason why I don't have a cell phone and use the smaller phone providers. I might not get the best comstomer service, then again I really don't use the phone all that much.
 
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