Obama Administration Seeks To Strip Cellphone Users of Privacy Protections

The Obama Administration is appealing a ruling in favor of privacy before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit — seeking to allow it to track people by their cellphones and arguing that there is no privacy expectations to prevent tracking without probable cause. It is another example of Obama’s continued assault on civil liberties — and the failure of liberals to call him to account for such policies.

Cellphones are now the most popular form of telephonic communication. Many homes no longer use “land lines” in favor of cellphones. That makes the forthcoming ruling of the Third Circuit all the more important for civil liberties to protect the privacy of such users.

U.S. Circuit Judge Dolores Sloviter expressed the obvious dangers of the Obama effort to track such phones in oral argument: “You know there are governments in the world that would like to know where some of their people are or have been. . . Can the government assure us that it will never try to find out these things? . . . Don’t we have to be concerned about this? Not this government right now, but a government?”

The Obama Administration took an extreme position that such concerns have little relevance because there is no privacy protection from such tracking of citizens — even without a showing of probable cause.

Privacy groups are fighting the Obama Administration, including the ACLU and EFF.

The Administration is relying on the 1986 Electronics Communications Privacy Act allows police to obtain “non-content” data without a warrant. It was a poorly written law with insufficient concern for civil liberties. The chief author of the law, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., seems to want to see a compromise affording the Administration the ability to track while protecting civil liberties. There is such a balance. It is called the probable cause provision of the United States Constitution. The government needs to show a judge that it has a basis for such surveillance.

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59 thoughts on “Obama Administration Seeks To Strip Cellphone Users of Privacy Protections”

  1. Adequate & Independent State Grounds

    The State of New York does not permit warrantless GPS tracking.

    See People v. Weaver

    The Highest Court of New York State Protects Privacy from GPS Monitoring
    Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    “Last month, in People v. Weaver, the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court of New York State, held that before attaching a GPS device to a suspect’s car and continuously monitoring the car’s whereabouts for 65 days, the police should have obtained a search warrant.

    In so holding, the court relied exclusively on the New York State Constitution’s analogue to the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. The court thereby insulated its decision from reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court (because a state’s highest court has the final word on the construction of state law). ”



  2. And the Democrats aren’t helping themselves,they seemed to be taking positions even with their so called majority that a skilled contortionist would seem to envy.

  3. Well if its 52 percent before this acknowledgement then it should go up:

    Senate Republicans: Filibuster everything to win in November?

    By David Lightman | McClatchy Newspapers
    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans are using the filibuster to limit and often derail Democrats’ initiatives, paralyzing the Senate and making it nearly impossible to accomplish even the most routine matters


  4. rafflaw,

    I am hoping that they will see the light and do what is right. I read today that another Sct vacancy may happen this year.
    If the people are so inclined they may just fashion a decision that keeps the hope for the next appointment.

    I long for the days of the time when even if you disagreed with someone they would still be your friend. Not so much today, it is taken personal and retribution flows.

    Congress can always take this decision away from the judge but with what civil liberties they allowed to be sold during the Bush years I don’t think that I trust them.

    However, one nice thing to read today, Bush still gets the blame for the economy even with traditional republican bases. I think I read that just 10 per cent blame not only the president and congress but wall street. The Republicans got 52 per cent of the blame.

  5. This is one more example of the Obama administration taking the same low road that the Bush regime took in attacking civil liberties. I am hopeful that the court will smack them down.

  6. Slightly off-topic, perhaps, but I’m reposting a link to the following article (Dredd — You’ve probably read it, but just in case you missed it.) I’m also posting the Coin Powell/Terror Industril Complex YouTube link:

    Friday, Jan 15, 2010 08:16 EST
    Obama confidant’s spine-chilling proposal
    By Glenn Greenwald


    And to Thirty Percenter: Thanks for your response to “peterpunkineater”.

    Colin Powell warns of “Terror Industrial Complex” w/ Keith Olbermann 10/15/2009

  7. “If you’re running from the gov’t. all you have to do is buy one of those go phones, and give your phone to a crackhead at the bus stop. But if you are the type of person the gov’t needs to find, you know that and more, but for the rest of us, who cares, really?” – peterpunkineater

    No one really….except for maybe those of us who don’t want to live in an undemocratic police state.

    Why do you ask?

  8. Let me try to turn a negative about our cell phones into a positive”

    > > 5 Things You Never Knew Your Cell Phone Could Do – For all the folks with cell phones.
    > > (This should be printed and kept in your car, purse, and wallet. Good
    > > information to have with you.)
    > >
    > > There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies.
    > > Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival. Check out the things that you can do with it:
    > >
    > > FIRST Emergency
    > >
    > > The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself
    > > out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an
    > > Emergency, dial 112 and the mobile wi ll search any existing network
    > > to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly, this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.
    > >
    > > SECOND Have you locked your keys in the car?
    > >
    > > Does your car have remote keyless entry? This may come in handy
    > > someday. Good reason to own a cell phone: If you lock your keys in the
    > > car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell
    > > phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end.
    > > Your car will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you. Distance is no object.
    > > You could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other ‘ remote ‘
    > > for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk). Editor’s note: It works fine! We tried it
    > > out and it unlocked our car over a cell phone!
    > >
    > > THIRD Hidden Battery Power
    > >
    > > Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys
    > > *3370#. Your cell phone will restart with this reserve and the
    > > instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell phone next time.
    > >
    > > FOURTH How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone?
    > >
    > > To check your mobile phone’ s serial number, key in the following digits on your phone: *#06#.
    > > A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down
    > > and keep it somewhere safe. If your phone gets stolen, you can phone
    > > your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the
    > > SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won’t get your phone back, but at
    > > least you know that whoever stole it can’t use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would
    > > be no point in people stealing mobile phones.
    > >
    > > And finally…..
    > >
    > > FIFTH Free Directory Service for Cells
    > >
    > > Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for
    > > 411information calls when they don’t have to. Most of us do not carry
    > > a telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even
    > > more of a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option,
    > > simply dial: (800)FREE411, or (800)373-3411 without incurring any charge at all. Program this into your phone”

  9. Applied Digital Solutions Completes Merger Between Digital Angel.net and Destron Fearing Corporation. (PALM BEACH, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sept. 11, 2000)


    Background on Digital Angel(TM)

    “In December of 1999, Applied Digital Solutions announced that it had acquired the patent rights to a miniature digital transceiver — which it has named Digital Angel. In some of its applications, the tiny device is expected to be bonded closely to the body or implanted just under the skin. The Company believes Digital Angel will be able to send and receive data and be located by GPS (Global Positioning System: see navigation satellite).”

    My understanding is that first responders, firefighters and others were supplied with external PLDs (Personal Location Devices) when they were working at Ground Zero in NYC.

    These devices (GPS implants) are getting smaller and may be as small as (or smaller than) .25″ by .05″ and Applied Digital has indicated that these devices will be rechargeable “without requiring any physical connection between the power source and the implant.” (source (link) below)


    So in the final analysis, cell phones may be the least of our worries.

    I think that I’ll head for the wine now, myself.

  10. I liked early nights too. Now I like em even more and actually sleep. Yeah, I understand all other plans take back seat to the children and well, whatever else may come up.

  11. Oh, and I was able to take that small break because my son has a cell phone that allows me to track him at all times!!

  12. I’m sure this was different than the one you attended…hmmm on second thought maybe not so much. Early night though, I was in fact taking a small break from my job as personal chauffer to my son and his friends who went to see a movie. All plans for later in the evening were unexpectedly shot down.

  13. Privacy, what privacy? Phones are one thing. But there’s just so much more. Without the parents knowing, one state conducts a “survey” on kids ages 10 and up. The questions are hysterically funny, or they would be if it weren’t being used as a ‘snitch and report’ tool at the taxpayers expense. I just had no idea my ten year old nephew would be tattling on me for buying scratch off state lottery tickets…lol. Question #54 is also interesting, I thought, given the narrow range of choices, none of which I’d pull in some big city neighborhoods…(cracking up). The “survey” is located here: http://beta.ctcdata.org/static_files/ctc_survey_.pdf

  14. lol, I’m not planning to inhale the bottle….just having 1 glass. I really don’t often drink wine, most I don’t like. I was at a girls party thing for a short time last night, and accepted a glass of this. I liked it so much that I bought a bottle on my way home today.

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