Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Illegal cell phone tracking without warrant upon probable cause

The U.S. government possesses and uses this technology to track U.S. citizens.

The U.S. government under the Bush Administration does this more and more often.

From Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Can the government track your cell phone's location probable without cause?

Is the government allowed to track your cell phone's location without a warrant based on probable cause? That's the question in a recent series of cases, where federal judges have begun to expose and reject secret surveillance requests.

This issue came to light in August 2005, when the first judge to publish a decision on the issue—Magistrate Judge Orenstein in the Eastern District of New York—publicly denied a government request that lacked proof of probable cause. In doing so, Judge Orenstein revealed that the Justice Department had routinely been using a baseless legal argument to get secret authorizations from a number of courts, probably for many years. Many more public denials followed from other judges, sharply rebuking the government and characterizing its legal argument as as "contrived," "unsupported," "misleading," "perverse," and even a "Hail Mary" play. But the government continues to rely on the same argument in front of other judges, sometimes successfully.

EFF has so far served as a friend of the court and filed briefs with two of the judges that have ruled on this issue, and both judges denied the government's requests. EFF plans to continue working on these cases as they come up, to ensure that Big Brother stays out of your pocket.

Latest EFF Statements

· DeepLinks post: Bad Ruling on Cell Phone Tracking: What a Difference a G Makes December 21, 2005

· Press Release: Government Still Pushing for Cell Phone Tracking Without Probable Cause December 7, 2005

· DeepLinks post: Location Privacy: 3, Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking: 0 December 1, 2005

· DeepLinks post: Anti-Cell Phone Tracking Judicial Revolution Spreads to New York City November 9, 2005

· Press release: Justice Department Not Appealing Cell Phone Surveillance Cases November 4, 2005

· DeepLinks post: "'Oh, we secretly track cell phones without probable cause all the time! What's the big deal?'" October 27th, 2005

· Press release: Court Issues Surveillance Smack-Down to Justice Department October 26, 2005

· DeepLinks post: One More and it's a Movement: Another Federal Judge Says no to Cell Phone Tracking Without Probable Cause October 20th, 2005

· DeepLinks post: The All Surveillance Act? October 12, 2005

· Press release: "New Case Reveals Routine Abuse of Government Surveillance Powers; Cell Phones Used to Track Users Without Probable Cause" Sept 26, 2005

Can they? Technologically yes, but legally no.

As recognized now.

Fake "disable" for cell phone gps

In contrast to the preceding voluntary uses of cell phone tracking technology is its involuntary uses via the fake “disable” gps feature on many cell phones sold today.

Is anyone putting together a class action lawsuit against cell phone providers for this misrepresentation?

I wonder, since, IIRC, the Bush Administration seeks legislation to immunize such providers from such suits.

Real Time Tracking via Cell Phone

This has been done since at least the early 1990s.

My earliest memory of reading about a person being so tracked was the murder of well-known cocaine hci trafficker Paublo Escabar. As that was about 15 years ago, that phone likely lacked a gps device, but the police were not only able to determine the location of his cell, but also his location within that cell, by triangulating the strength of the signal. By making a call from his cell phone, Escabar unwittingly sent an electronic signal telling the police where he was, leading to his ambush and death.

Advances in gps technologies, and in related software make the use of cell phones as tracking devices technologically routine as a police officer calling in a drivers license.

Some companies offer this service as a means to track employees and children. As such participation is voluntary as a condition of employment, or for parents to track their children.

Such technologies have other legitimate uses, such as locating people who are lost in undeveloped areas, such as mountain climbers and the family that was snowbound in an automobile which they burned its tires for heat before the father went off to look for help only to die from the cold. However, this would require far greater cell phone coverage – additional towers – either temporary or permanent to locate the cell phone “pings”.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Electronic Eyes: Dome Camera Network

These cameras are a core component of DARPA’s IAO, with a real time network with integrated facial recognition technology. With cities being given USHS grants to install these cameras along streets, such as Chicago which plans to erect 12,000 now, and with increasingly overlapping of these camera’s cover, the authorities have yet another technology for real time tracking of the general public- and anyone in particular who may write something in a blog that displeases the politically powerful.

Any camera you went by on all modes of transportation (facial recognition or license plate reader) that is entered into a long term data base, and is available for viewing on a real time network), for both long term and real time stalking people: all at a whim.

The Electronic Confessional

Long Term Tracking

Data Collection and Consolidation

Any camera you went by on all modes of transportation (facial recognition or license plate reader) that is entered into a long term data base, but which is not available for viewing on a real time network)

Any credit card or debit card transaction.

Any bank account statement

Any phone call, voice mail.

Internet Surfing and Transactions



Search engine requests

Library Visits and requests

Office building visits

All with the incentive to look for economic activity in order to increase IRS tax intake to fund USHS expansion (it will be at 1 monitor per 1,200 people with 250,000 over a population of 300,000 million), along with further expansions of the government’s various wars.

Think about the potential ramifications of such technologies being developed...

...especially for those born into this age.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Blog and Blogger Anonymity with growing IAO technology advancements?

Freedom of Speech

The Electronic Frontier Foundation suggests that bloggers try anonymity.

2. Use Anonymizing Technologies

There are a number of technical solutions for the blogger who wishes to remain anonymous. is a service that offers anonymous blog hosting for free. You may create a blog there with no real names attached. Even the people who run the service will not have access to your name.

If you are worried that your blog-hosting service may be logging your unique IP address and thus tracking what computer you're blogging from, you can use the anonymous network Tor to edit your blog. Tor routes your Internet traffic through what's called an "overlay network" that hides your IP address. More importantly, Tor makes it difficult for snoops on the Internet to follow the path your data takes and trace it back to you.

For people who want something very user-friendly, offers a product called "Anonymous Surfing," which routes your Internet traffic through an anonymizing server and can hide your IP address from the services hosting your blog.

3. Use Ping Servers
If you want to protect your privacy while getting news out quickly, try using ping servers to broadcast your blog entry for you. Pingomatic is a tool that allows you to do this by broadcasting to a lot of news venues at once, while making you untraceable. The program will send out notice (a "ping") about your blog entry to several blog search engines like Feedster and Technorati. Once those sites list your entry ñ which is usually within a few minutes ñ you can take the entry down. Thus the news gets out rapidly and its source can evaporate within half an hour. This protects the speaker while also helping the blog entry reach people fast.

Others see this as problematic.

Expecting online anonymity seems a bit naive to me. Think of all the ways that your online activities are tracked and consider the tools which are available even to the average person. For example, many of us have tools for tracking blog traffic that give geographic location and originating IP address for our visitors. Conversely, if you as a blogger have a registered web site then your registration information is public record and a simple WHOIS will reveal who you are. If someone is truly concerned about anonymity, it would seem to me that the internet is probably not the place to expect it.

More philosophically, I’m opposed to the notion of anonymous blogging where-ever it is possible to avoid it. Anonymity reduces the credibility of what is being said, and opens up the opportunity for scandal and muckracking, for example by people deliberately spreading false information using an anonymous blog. Instead, where-ever possible bloggers should correctly disclose their ID, at least in the case of opinion/commentary blogs. Obviously anonymity is essential in some cases, notable in non-democratic states and where one’s job might be on the line, but as a general trend in blogging, I don’t think it’s a healthy one.

Indeed, the issue of anonymity has been used against the letter calling for the resignation of New York Archbishop Egan, that appears in the October 11, 2006 Whispers in the Loggia.

Ahhhh, the glory of the anonymous letter. It seems members of the presbyterate of the Archdiocese of NY have the moral certainty to circulate a letter calling for a vote of "No Confidence" in Cardinal Egan but lack the moral strength and maturity to actually affix their names to the letter. From what I am able to discern from the text of the letter as well as the attending article found at,, the priests of the Archdiocese are frustrated with the leadership, or perceived lack thereof, provided by Cardinal Egan. This is fine with me. I have worked for and with people that have frustrated me with their leadership style or skill to the point where I wanted to scream. I do not know Cardinal Egan nor have I ever been subject to his leadership so I cannot speak to that issue. What disappoints me is the nursery school recess dynamic that accompanies the anonymous letter. The author(s) included the following in their letter:

"As you would understand, because of the severely vindictive nature of Cardinal Egan, this committee must remain anonymous."

This smacks of a certain immaturity and lack of courage that I am disappointed to find in our clergy. Imagine if the Founding Fathers decided to issue the Declaration of Independence without signing it. They were in mortal danger but chose to sign it because a very public statement lacks power without knowing the names of those who support it. So it goes with the clergy behind the anonymous letter. If they truly believe that their argument has merit and they are convinced that they are acting correctly, why not sign the letter? If they are coming from a position of truth and righteousness, they would be protected by the Magesterium as well as the body of the Faithful from the "wrath" of Cardinal Egan.

And, as I would suspect, there is a whole world of software applications that are not necessarily available to the general public, for tracking and manipulating data.

Staying anonymous is increasing less likely.

The key is in preserving the need not to.