Posts Tagged ‘Patriot Act

05
Nov
10

Federal Judge Finds Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking Unconstitutional

It’s time for America to stop justifying the “Police State” that has developed over the past ten years and start asking our government about restoring some our freedoms that have been taken away under the disguise of “Fear”.

Federal Judge Finds Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking Unconstitutional

 

In August, we blogged about a court decision from the federal court in the Eastern District of New York that held that law enforcement agents are constitutionally obligated to get a warrant based on probable cause before obtaining historical cell phone location information. And in September, wewrote about an opinion from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals holding that judges may order the government to get a warrant based on probable cause for historical cell phone location information. However, the 3rd Circuit also held that judges are not obligated to require probable cause, and cautioned that they should only require the government to meet this high standard on rare occasions. Now another court has joined the fray. In a detailed opinion (PDF) citing documents obtained through litigation by the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation, Judge Stephen Smith of the Southern District of Texas held that “warrantless disclosure of cell site data violates the Fourth Amendment.”

A few aspects of the opinion (PDF) are worth noting:

  • The government’s application appears to request historical location information for whenever the phone was turned on, not just when calls were made. According to Judge Smith, “the Government seeks continuous location data to track the target phone over a two month period, whether the phone was in active use or not.” This is notable because the cell tracking applications we have seen previously only sought location information for those moments when an individual actually made a phone call. The government is now asking for a great deal more information, and consequently its requests are now more invasive than we previously thought.
  • Cell phone tracking information is increasingly accurate. The opinion devotes many pages to explaining the ways in which cell tracking information has grown more accurate over time. In fact, it is because of these “refinements in location-based technology” that Judge Smith concludes that requests for cell tracking information trigger the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.
  • The Fourth Amendment requires the government to get a warrant and show probable cause to obtain historical cell tracking information. The court reached this conclusion both because cell tracking reveals information about constitutionally protected spaces such as the home, and because the prolonged nature of such surveillance is very invasive. The court likened the records sought by the government to “a continuous reality TV show, exposing two months’ worth of a person’s movements, activities, and associations in relentless detail.”

As we have explained elsewhere, the ACLU agrees with Judge Smith that the government should be required to obtain a warrant and show probable cause before obtaining cell tracking information. As powerful new technologies enhance the ability of government agents to track our every move, it becomes all the more important that the courts hold the government to a rigorous standard before the government can access such sensitive information.

 

 

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07
May
09

Time for Another Review of the Patriot Act

costoffreedom2

icon_digg1 As of late the CIA and other governmental Intel agencies have taken the long overdue and justified theoretical “hits” from a various number of congressional leaders, the presidential executive branch, news media and most importantly the American public for these agencies institutionalizing torture as a means of “hopefully” obtaining timely and accurate information from captured terrorists.

As mentioned the News media and bloggers have jumped at the opportunity to post their stories and opinions, myself included:

With the last, aforementioned link regarding a short reference capsule of articles published over the past several months by nationally recognized news sources.Unfortunately there’s more work required to correct the past injustices of the Bush Administration than has been started by the Obama Administration; namely issues regarding the FISA (part of the Patriot Act) and the FBI’s list of 24,000 people on a terrorist watch list.  This list is in dire need of being revised and updated based on the number of outdated or sometimes irrelevant information, while missing people with genuine ties to terrorism who should have been on the list.

In a recent article, published in the New York Times, entitled: “Justice Dept. Finds Flaws in F.B.I. Terror List”, authored by authored by Eric Lichtblau; here are some of the excerpts of what I feel of importance (high lighted revisions by myself):By the beginning of 2009, the report said, this consolidated government watch list comprised about 400,000 people, recorded as 1.1 million names and aliases, an exponential growth from the days before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But the new report, by the office of the Justice Department’s inspector general, provides the most authoritative statistical account to date of the problems connected with the list. An earlier report by the inspector general, released in March 2008, looked mainly at flaws in the system, without an emphasis on the number of people caught up in it.

The list has long been a target of public criticism, particularly after well-publicized errors in which politicians including Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Representative John Lewis showed up on it. People with names similar to actual terrorists have complained that it can take months to be removed from the list, and civil liberties advocates charge that antiwar protesters, Muslim activists and others have been listed for political reasons.

The inspector general looked at a sampling of 216 F.B.I. terrorism investigations and found that in 15 percent of them, a total of 35 subjects were not referred to the list even though they should have been.

In one case, for instance, a Special Forces soldier was investigated and ultimately convicted of stealing some 16,500 rounds of ammunition, C-4 explosives and other material from Afghanistan and shipping them to the United States in what investigators suspected might be the makings of a domestic terrorist plot. Yet the suspect was not placed on the watch list until nearly five months after the investigation opened.

Coinciding with this Times story is a YouTube video showing just how bad things can happen for a family who falls under FBI suspicion implementing the provisions provided within The Patriot Act:

USA using Patriot Act against its own citizens

Sixteen-year-old Ashton Lundeby’s bedroom in his mother’s Granville County home is nothing, if not patriotic. Images of American flags are everywhere on the bed, on the floor, on the wall.

But according to the United States government, the tenth-grade home-schooler is being held on a criminal complaint that he made a bomb threat from his home on the night of Feb. 15.

An additional, but somewhat dated video on the Patriot Act is also provided here:

Obama, Clinton, McCain – The Patriot Act

Finally an abbreviated pdf copy of the Patriot Act, as it pertains to wire taps (foreign and domestic) can be view:

The USA PATRIOT Act – A Sketch

Newswire Updates:

Claims Graham Briefed About Domestic Spying in 2001 and 2002 Were Also Bogus
from The Public Record | Jason Leopold

Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham disclosed in 2007 that an intelligence document which claimed he was briefed about the Bush administration’s domestic surveillance program on two dates in 2001 and 2002 were untrue when compared to his own records, which showed that no such briefings ever took place.

Graham also said at the time that he was never told during briefings he attended that were chaired by Vice President Dick Cheney, then-National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, and then-CIA Director George Tenet, that the Bush administration planned to spy on American citizens.

The statements Graham made in 2005 are virtually identical to the denials he has recently made in response to claims by the CIA that he and other Democratic and Republican lawmakers were told in classified briefings that the agency had been using so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” against high-value detainees.

Obama Administration Will Not Ask Supreme Court To Take Up National Security Letter “Gag Order” Decision
from ACLU Newsroom

The government will not ask the Supreme Court to review a decision that struck down Patriot Act provisions that allow the government to impose unconstitutional gag orders on recipients of national security letters (NSLs). NSLs issued by the FBI require recipients to turn over sensitive information about their clients and subscribers. A lower court ruled in 2007 that the gag order provisions were unconstitutional, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld that ruling in 2008. The government’s time for petitioning the Supreme Court for review has now expired.




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