back to article US law enforcement phone snooping on the rise

An inquiry by Congressional Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass) has revealed that the number of requests wireless carriers receive from US law enforcement for information about their customers has increased steadily, but just how often the police use mobile phones to track individuals' whereabouts remains unclear. Markey, …


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  1. JaitcH

    Remember, most all electronic 'exchanges' have dial in taps, ...

    certainly all the CALEA systems in the US. The FBI can remotely tap any land-line phone, from any of their offices, in the USA.

    The cell systems are a new source of information and as long as dumb criminals use their regular SIMS or don't turn their cells off, they leave one hell of a mouse droppings trail.

    Mind you, a lot of dummies reside on Wall Street, too, as their cell phones turn up a lot of evidence that have put some way for decades. No time off for Federal crimes in the US, either.

    Get smart, use Phil Zimmermann's new Silent Circle cell app, he has never catered to cops sticking their noses in too your business. Coming soon. (Still won't beat Geo-location, though)

    1. Graham Wilson

      @Jaitch - - Re: Remember, most all electronic 'exchanges' have dial in taps, ...

      "Get smart, use Phil Zimmermann's new Silent Circle cell app,..."

      Except, for a limited few, it'll be ineffective as was/is PGP. In themselves, such products are fine, and PGP--which I've used--works excellently, but the problem is that they're not universally used by everyone.

      If PGP were universally a part of email and messaging systems then everyone would require public/private keys but it'd mean that the encryption process was essentially transparent for all messages except for the initial creation of the key passphrase.

      That secure messages/messaging are not secure has several problems: (a) people have not gotten used to encrypting messages so they don't use encryption even when available, (b) adding security to normal plaintext mail etc. is never totally straightforward--it's never just a one-click operation hence it's not used except by the cognoscenti who definitely need it, (c) thus, as encryption is not used by everyone, those that do use it can be signaled out for doing so.

      Encrypted messages stand out like dogs' balls: that they can't be read in plaintext puts a glowing neon sign on them which says 'I'm hiding something', thus they're automatically drawn to the attention of authorities even when messages are perfunctory and innocuous.

      Perhaps I'm just suspicious. Unlike the conspiratorially-mined, normally, I consider government 'conspiracies' to be 99% fuck-ups and perhaps 1% conspiracies; but with respect to email etc. it seems just too convenient for authorities that most mailers and messaging systems are plaintext by default--remember financial transactions via your browser are the opposite--automatically encrypted. 20+ years on from beginning of the Net, so why one encrypted and not the other?

      1. Ted Treen
        Big Brother

        Re: @Jaitch - - Remember, most all electronic 'exchanges' have dial in taps, ...

        Hanlon's razor:-

        "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity".

        Applies to all bureaucratic governments everywhere, with the possible exceptions of DPRK, Iran and one or two others.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "most all"

      What? Do you mean 'most' or do you mean 'all'?

      Make up your mind, man!

  2. Eddy Ito


    "We need to know how law enforcement differentiates between records of innocent people, and those that are subjects of investigation"

    Easy, they don't differentiate jack shit. Roughly 90% of the law enforcement officers I've met seem to have the attitude that everyone is a criminal albeit some haven't been caught yet. On the other hand the remaining 10% are some of the greatest people I've ever met and make me wonder why there doesn't seem to be anything in between.

    1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
      Big Brother

      Re: Easy

      The logic works like this

      The Homeland Security Drones were talking among themselves: "We're invaded the privacy of 1.3M people and found didley-squat. This idea is a crock of shit, and it stinks

      So the Drones went to their Supervisors and said, "Look this spying on out neighbours is useless, we've found fuck-all and it just pisses off the ordinary people".

      So the Supervisors reported to the Managers, saying, "We've found no evidence of terrorist activity and nobody likes it"

      So the Managers reported to the Directors, saying, "We've stopped any terrorist activity ever taking place and the terrorists don't like the methods we use"

      So the Directors spoke amongst themselves, "We've defended our country and what we do actively prevents terrorism"

      So the Directors then went onto the Politicians and said to them "we have secured out country from terrorist attack, lets do more of it".

      So the Politicians issued press releases and made speeches telling the proles them that we are winning the war on terror and then asked the special advisors for more ideas and plans.

      Then one of the special advisors said "I'm also on the payroll of I know of of a company that makes body scanners"

      The president looked upon the new plan, and saw that it was good, and the plan became policy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Easy

      That would be because everyone is a criminal that has not been caught yet? Take a look at the laws on the books, there's actually no way to NOT violate some state, federal, county or city law/by-law, frequently multiple times per day.

      It comes down to what laws the police choose to enforce at the current time, as influenced by political leaders and their own preferences.

      Which in turn frequently results in enforcing the easy ones such as parking and speeding because they're clear cut and simple. Apart from that the police (being human) will enforce behaviour rather than the laws evenly. In other words, when you're the mole that sticks his head up in front of the police, you're going to get whacked down.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What do apple and google have?

    Even more, I should imagine.

    -Remote recording, even when not in call.

    -Photos and video.

    -SMS and data

    -Location-everything helpfully georeferenced

    -Files stored on phone

    -Passwords/anything typed on phone

    -Global coverage-no need for warrant for johnny foreigners details, or to talk to the operator-he might be roaming.

    The most invasive surveillance system is here...

  4. LordHighFixer

    Living under a rock?

    Doesn't this congressman watch CSI or Person Of Interest, or any of those other crime shows. If you cell phone has a battery in it then they can tell exactly where you are, who you are talking to and can tap your conversation in real time, even if your phone is off. They can listen to whatever is happening wherever your phone is, activate your camera and stream the live video to their secret underground spy bunker. I thought everyone knew that.

  5. Purlieu

    Re: Living under a rock

    Why do you think iPhone battery can not be removed

  6. mfritz0

    ," Markey said in a statement. "Law enforcement agencies are looking for a needle, but what are they doing with the haystack? We need to know how law enforcement differentiates between records of innocent people, and those that are subjects of investigation, as well as how it handles, administers, and disposes of this information."

    It's simple - Most law enforcement personel will tell you, "There are no inocent people."

    Sprint was surprisingly candid on this matter. "There is no statute that directly addresses the provision of location data of a mobile device to the government," its letter to Markey's office explains. "Given the importance of this issue and the competing and at times contradictory legal standards, Sprint believes Congress should clarify the legal requirements for disclosure of all types of location information to law enforcement personnel."

    This is an excellent idea.

    ...Once you lose liberty or freedom, it's gone forever, protect what you own.

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