informationliberation
The news you're not supposed to know...




An Introduction to Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand Everything
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
(more)
Article posted Aug 16 2012, 2:45 AM Category: Big Brother/Orwellian Source: Techdirt Print

Court: If Violating Your Privacy Helps The Police, It's Not Violating Your Privacy

by Mike Masnick

In a horrifyingly bad ruling, the 6th Circuit appeals court has said that the owner of a prepaid phone has no 4th Amendment rights in protecting his location info from law enforcement. There have been a number of cases touching on this subject, with a few different rulings back and forth, including more than a few in the federal courts that argue tracking someone's location isn't a 4th Amendment violation. But, even if you grant that, this particular ruling is egregiously bad and poorly argued. The EFF highlights some of the more brain-numbing aspects of the ruling:
In what can only be described as a results-oriented opinion, the court found Skinner had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the cell phone location data because "if a tool used to transport contraband gives off a signal that can be tracked for location, certainly the police can track the signal." Otherwise, "technology would help criminals but not the police." In other words, because cell phones can be used to commit crimes, there can't be any Fourth Amendment privacy rights in them. If this sounds like an over-simplistic description of the legal reasoning in an opinion we disagree with, the sad reality is that the court's conclusion really did boil down to this shallow understanding of the law.
Yes, you read that right. Basically, if you've broken the law, according to the court, you have no 4th Amendment rights. And, then it goes further, by basically noting, because anyone might be a criminal, we might as well remove all of their 4th Amendment rights as well, because doing so might help the police. Of course, this goes against the very basis of the 4th Amendment.

The story involves police tracking a guy accused of being a drug runner, via the GPS in his pre-paid phone, without getting a warrant. The guy, Melvin Skinner, pointed out that this violated his 4th Amendment rights, but, as noted above, the court disagreed.

Julian Sanchez walks through the many ways the court got some rather basic things wrong in their ruling:
The court proceeds through a series of lazy and underdeveloped analogies:
Otherwise dogs could not be used to track a fugitive if the fugitive did not know that the dog hounds had his scent. A getaway car could not be identified and followed based on the license plate number if the driver reasonably thought he had gotten away unseen. The recent number of cell phone technology does not change this. If it did, then technology would help criminals but not the police. It follows that Skinner had no expectation of privacy in the context of this case, just as the driver of a getaway car has no expectation of privacy in the particular combination of colors of the car’s paint.
But it does not follow at all. “What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection,” the Supreme Court explained in the seminal case of Katz v. United States, “But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected.” Any member of the public can buy a dog and follow a scent. Any member of the public can view and copy down a license plate number. Any member of the public can view the external paint job of a car. But any member of the public cannot just track the GPS signal of a random cell phone—and if they could, most of us would be extremely wary about carrying cell phones. Unlike all these other examples, GPS tracking as employed here depends crucially on the ability of police to invoke state authority—a seemingly salient distinction the court fails to take any note of.
That's not all. The court seems equally confused about other cases, and both the EFF and Sanchez's link above details other mistakes concerning other case law. This isn't just a case of people having different interpretations. This seems like a clear case of a court not really bothering much with the details or the case law and just seeing one thing: this guy was a criminal and the GPS info was useful in finding him, therefore it must be okay. This is a very troubling precedent to have on the books no matter how you look at it.

And it will impact many Americans. While the focus in the ruling is on the "but he's a criminal!!!!" aspect, it applies across the board to pre-paid mobile phone users (well, at least those covered by the 6th Circuit). And that's about a quarter of mobile phone subscriptions. As the EFF put it, in an effort to make sure criminals get no privacy location privacy rights, the court has killed such rights for everyone else as well -- which is exactly the opposite of how our system is supposed to work.







Latest Big Brother/Orwellian
- Los Angeles Law Enforcement Looking To Crowdsource Surveillance
- TSA Ejects Mute, Disabled Woman From Flight Because She Couldn't Speak
- NSA Exploited Heartbleed for Own Use
- An NSA 'Reform Bill' of the Intelligence Community, Written by the Intelligence Community, and for the Intelligence Community
- Britain to Jail Parents Who Don't Love Their Children Enough
- Clapper Confesses: NSA Searching Americans' Calls and Emails
- "You Can Keep Your Doctor. Oh, And We're Not Listening To Your Phone Calls."
- The Rebranding Of SOPA: Now Called 'Notice And Staydown'









Comments Add Comment Page 1 of 1
dougo

Posted: Aug 17 2012, 5:54 AM

Link
687 I leave my cell phone behind alot.I have nothing to hide.If everyone let their prepaid phones expire,the phone companies would lobby for the people and the tax man would lose millions a month.that is a protest that would quickly show results!


Add Comment
Name
Comment

* No HTML


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below
 


PLEASE NOTE
Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.


FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy



Advanced Search
Username:

Password:

Remember Me
Forgot Password?
Register

Illinois Cops Caught Red-Handed Lying Under Oath In Marijuana Case - 04/16Cop Swerves His SUV Into Longboarders To Enforce $35 Bylaw Violation - 04/14SC Man Facing Federal Charges Over $.89 Drink Refill - 04/17The Disturbing Messages in Police Recruiting Videos - 04/17Peoria, Illinois Mayor Orders Police Raid Over Parody Twitter Account - 04/18Ranchers vs. Regulators: The Clark County Range War - 04/17Bundy, the Senecas and Fighting for Sovereignty - 04/17Tax Day: What Kind of "Civilization" Are We Paying For? - 04/14

Rialto, CA Police Made to Wear Cameras, Use of Force Drops by Over Two-ThirdsCop Who Karate Chopped NY Judge In Throat Gets Off Scot-FreeFlorida Cop Smashes Compliant Woman's Face Into Car -- "Maybe Now You Can Understand Simple Instructions"VIDEO: Lapel Cam Reveals A Day In The Life Of A U.S. Police Officer (Tasing, Beating, Breaking & Entering, Stomping On Heads... and Laughing About It)Caught On Tape: Officer Sucker Punches Inmate In Face, Files Report Claiming 'Self Defense'Insult Person On Twitter, Go To JailSWAT Team Brings TV Crew To Film Raid Against Threatening Internet Critic -- Raids Innocent Grandma InsteadCop Karate Chops NY Judge In The Throat
(more)

 
Top