Warrantless tracking via cellphone

Just when you think that there are no more ways that Big Brother in the guise of the FBI can snoop on American citizens, there comes a new blockbuster story that indeed, yes, there is another way for the government has been poking and prying into the lives of Americans without seeking a warrant from a judge.

The Feds have found a new way to violate our Constitutional protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures … except upon probable cause” (If you don’t recognize this phrase, read the 4th Amendment, please). Now it looks like we are even paying for the privilege of being tracked — via our own ubiquitous cellphones. The FBI just goes to the telecoms and says “pretty please” — and the snooping begins.

Since they haven’t found a way to insert RFID chips in everyone so they can keep track of everyone on American soil 24/7, the FBI has resorted to another technological bloodhound — the cellphone that is found in almost every pocket or purse.

They claim is made that they need to know the whereabouts of drug traffickers and terrorists But since they don’t have to present any proof that any crime has been committed or might be about to happen, this program is subject to no oversight. How do we know that it has not been used on innocent Americans like Brandon Mayfield — or as a weapon to stalk ex-boyfriends or estranged wives? What about political opponents — or cantankerous neighbors? How do we know this “program” has not led to egregious abuses?

“I think it’s a slippery slope,” former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin, a CNN legal analyst, said on American Morning Friday. “You should be following policy and that policy protects US citizens by the Fourth Amendment and our persons, our places, our homes.” http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Former_prosecutor_DOJ_breaking_rules_for_1123.html

Hostin suggests that perhaps Congress should pass a law to deal with specific life-or-death situations but also points out that there are already mechanisms in place to obtain information in emergency situations:

“A law enforcement officer can call a magistrate judge at home, there are people on call so the law can still be followed,” she said.

So perhaps there is really no need for Congress to pass a law. Certainly if there is a compelling reason for a new law, the Administration should submit a request to Congress outlining what tools they think they need. No need to do an end run around the Constitution. As Ms. Hostin says, “It’s a slippery slope” when you start picking and choosing which parts of the law and the Constitution to follow.

Explore posts in the same categories: 4th Amendment, cellphone tracking, telecoms, Warrantless wiretapping

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