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Warrantless Cellphone Tracking Deemed Illegal

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posted on Jun, 13 2014 @ 07:40 PM
In a day of mixed news to say the very least, there comes a brighter note from the 11th Circuit Court.

It seems they don't care much for this whole concept of tracking a man without so much as a 'by your leave' from a proper Judge with something we like to call a warrant. It should go without saying I agree with them, eh?

In the first ruling of its kind, the 11th Circuit held that police need a warrant to obtain cellphone data used to pinpoint a suspect's location.

The three-judge panel in Atlanta ruled that Quartavius Davis, whose cell tower data placed him near the scenes of six robberies, had a Fourth Amendment right to keep his whereabouts private.

"While committing a crime is certainly not within a legitimate expectation of privacy, if the cell phone site location data could place him near those scenes, it could place him near any other scene," wrote U.S. District Judge David Sentelle, who was assigned to the three-judge panel.

WooHoo! Some LOGIC at last!

That is some logic I can get behind too. We should not care if he did the crime. That isn't relevant, as it so often isn't by the time a case reaches this level of Federal court.

This is about whether it should be permissible to track an individual by their cell phone ping to towers on a mere desire to check, and not on proper cause required for a warrant.

He argued that the admission of the cell tower data -- based on a judge's order, not a warrant -- amounted to an unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The 11th Circuit agreed on Wednesday, noting that its ruling marks the first of its kind nationwide.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court held in 2012 that police need a warrant to track suspects via GPS, it has not yet ruled on cellphone tower data.
Source:Courthouse News

Now it's important to note what this is and what this isn't. The United States is broken up into sections for this level of Federal appellate court. Those jursidictions have everything to do with where a decision like this has impact. In this court, jurisdiction covers Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

I'd imagine the Executive won't be pleased having this option shut down by the Court. So, I'm guessing this could well see consideration at a higher level at some point.

For now though? Precedent is made and that's a good start in one area, at least!

posted on Jun, 13 2014 @ 07:43 PM
There we go again Wrabbit2000. have we no learned yet that under the patriot act and the NSA this days nothing is illegal anymore as long as the "authorities" are doing the deed.

posted on Jun, 13 2014 @ 07:46 PM
a reply to: Wrabbit2000

Ironically, the Canadian Supreme Court said pretty much the same thing today.

Internet users' privacy upheld by Canada's top court

Now this talks about providing internet info, but it also applies to our wireless market as well.


posted on Jun, 13 2014 @ 07:52 PM
Yes, it is illegal and most people realized this would be the eventual decision.

But there will be very few consequences to the people who used this tracking.

I bet there's already new tech with secret methods which has not yet been deemed illegal.

Tech is changing over few months so if the cops get to use it until it's known and goes through the appeal process, they have years of illegal snooping which gives them plenty of time for them to develop the next new toy.

posted on Jun, 13 2014 @ 08:01 PM

originally posted by: marg6043
There we go again Wrabbit2000. have we no learned yet that under the patriot act and the NSA this days nothing is illegal anymore as long as the "authorities" are doing the deed.

I will agree, but with one minor correction.

Nothing is illegal for these people until those who determine legal say it is. Those are the Courts, and so far...they aren't entirely loaded because the Executive has had a pretty crappy record of wins where it matters, and across many areas.

Now that could be changing after Reid flipped the nuke option in the Senate for simple majority to appoint, and the nominations I've followed in the congressional daily records are moving at a fast clip. Good if they are the right people...bad if it's partisan, and we'll see in time.

Judges can be unpredictable, even by those who first appoint them.

posted on Jun, 13 2014 @ 08:07 PM
Does anyone here believe that this administration cares if something is legal or not?
It is illegal to negotiate for hostages without congressional approval.
It is illegal for the IRS to select targets based on political beliefs.
It is illegal for The POTUS to halt implementation of a law based only on his demand to do so.
I could go on and on...

posted on Jun, 13 2014 @ 08:17 PM
a reply to: abe froman

I don't believe Obama cares one hoot for what's legal at this point and has outright said so in conditional ways.

He's out in a little over 2 years, no matter what and that's that. As a United States President, and then Ex-President he has a certain degree of real and near total degree of actual immunity. Not least of which, in personal lifetime secret service to insure courts who will never issue such an order, are the ONLY thing ever arresting him ..or any other President. There are many reasons for that, and most of them I honestly don't have issues with. Having a functional nation sometimes means things have to happen a certain way.

However...that all refers to just one man and one man alone. No one else.

I think others ARE starting to realize the above too. Obama is gone in a little over two years. No matter what. Gone with him will be any protections for what's been done. Especially something violating direct court orders. It may take time to work it all through, but courts are patient with lifetime judges who have ...well? A lifetime of patience.

** I didn't mean to get political on this, but to note the Courts have limited meaning at the very top ..but anything from just below that down, they hold the cards and set the rules in ways Executive agencies could never match. Rulings like this matter a lot to career people that have ..or want..many long years beyond elections, IMO.
edit on 6/13/2014 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 14 2014 @ 12:23 AM
WoooHooo, that's certainly cause to celebrate!

Drinks are on me, and here's a toast!...To the little victories!

posted on Jun, 14 2014 @ 03:06 AM
a reply to: Wrabbit2000

The only downside in this ruling, is that as of now, it only applies to the jurisdiction of the 11th circuit. On the upside though, there has definitely been a turning of the tide, and I fully expect more rulings to come down in line with this. The judiciary is not buying the flimsy doublespeak arguments put forth by the officials in favor of the current overreach of totalitarian domestic surveillance powers that even the Staatssicherheit would be awestruck by.

Like you said, the precedent has been set. One concern I have though, is how/if this will affect those already under surveilance sans warrant. Will it be put to a stop, or will this only help to prevent further targeting?

I smell a Church Committee 2.0 coming soon.

Here's a thread I posted the other day concerning the legal battles against NSA: The US Argues It Must Destroy Key NSA Evidence to Protect National Security

posted on Jun, 14 2014 @ 03:14 AM
a reply to: Wrabbit2000

My problem with this ruling is my problem with many of the technology rulings. They only apply to our relationship between us and the state. It's now illegal for the state to do this in some places but a corporation simply includes this as part of the terms of service agreement and they have the data. If they for example just kindly handed it over to the cops there's no problem because the data on us belongs to the corporation and not to the individual.

posted on Jun, 14 2014 @ 08:38 AM
I don't know. They took two steps towards tyranny and one step back. I would have preferred three.

posted on Jun, 14 2014 @ 11:28 AM
a reply to: Wrabbit2000

Happy Saturday Wrabbit2000-The issue with this is they have always done it anyway, got info on us, people, things, events...then they act on it in other ways. They illegally find out stuff, act on it, and then cover their tracks.

Even 50 years ago we'd say "They need a COURT ORDER" for doing wiretaps. They did...didn't get one...found out what they wanted and exclaimed "WE DIDNT LISTEN IN! NOT US!"

Its good to know though...but theyre just gonna continue doing it anyway and denying they did.

posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 10:07 AM
a reply to: Aazadan

There is a big difference.. In fact, there are a couple BIG differences. First, there isn't a cooperation I know of that can violate ALL the cell and land-line phone companies in a single day by just sending agents out to each and flash a badge with a national security letter. No one but Uncle has been able to do that (and I'm not sure this ruling actually impacts NSL's demanding information, but LEO investigations)

Corporations also cannot DO with that information what the State can. Corps cannot take our freedom, property and very lives under the direct authority of the State as a legal act. That is just a part of the daily work of the State. In a court, you don't face the full power and resources of IBM Corp. saying you did a horrible thing, and they have this truck load of evidence saying so's the State.

So, it's the State that I would agree is of MOST concern for things like this. Corps are a pain, but then Corps have their purposes to. Have you ever used a private access database personally? I mean the private info ones that require some credentials to get into. Not official..but a PI license at least. Those are invaluable in a hundred different ways for average people, every day on matters that require private investigation into things. It all has it's place, IMO.

We just can't have the State making up rules as they go, tweaking laws because the mood strikes them (not how it works) or ignoring them all together. The problem is always though, the courts can only act on what is brought to them. They have no power of initiative.

posted on Jun, 15 2014 @ 05:58 PM
a reply to: Wrabbit2000

What I'm getting at is those corporate owned databases are private property. They can do whatever they want with them. Given the revolving door between heads of corporations and heads of various governments it's not a stretch for them to circumvent the laws. You can get into unofficial collusion too like say give a corporation a tax break in exchange for access to their database. This happens more on the federal level since the feds have the most power but it's not unheard of at the local level like say a town gives a telecom a duopoly on internet service when they move into an area, but the town also negotiates itself access to their database, or even just that the ISP has to tip off law enforcement under certain circumstances.

Overall this court action is a win but it's pretty easy to circumvent, and this largely stems from the fact that there's no constitution to dictate the relationship between the corporation and the state or the corporation and the individual. It's all contract law which isn't equipped to do so fairly.

posted on Jun, 17 2014 @ 08:08 PM
a reply to: Aazadan

What you're noting is a valid but I believe separate concern. I don't personally have a problem with the private or corporate databases that aggregate and re-sell personal information. I have a problem with restrictions and degree of public access, but that's aside from the State and what this is about.

Perhaps I am jaded because I have used them in the past under a family P.I. license for side income and to help out, and lost the novelty of thinking of it as personal nuggets on people. It's just a sea of crap (data) with some shiny turds (useful stuff)..somewhere among it ...that might even be relevant to what its being done for (but not as often as would make it feel worth while). Heck, data is data is data at that volume and mind numbing repetition.

I was flat amazed at times at what was common, as I was given a list of 50-100 names at a time, for all those systems produced on each for raw reports, then a summary written to each, presumed to be best possible accuracy on what did matter. (it was private investigation stuff, legitimate, and confidential in describing detailed use, but to say the info was invaluable for how it was applied. There is very legitimate need for this stuff.).

Names I looked at and thought, hell, at least 1/2 of these will be easy! ...often turned out to be the little buggers that had 1,000 of the same, presumably all related back 100 generations or some such thing, in a close enough area to make that art look like finger painting more than accurate and useful stuff. Really bad finger painting too, at times.

....the state, on the other hand, has everything from Social Security records on how much we make (A Social sec office just quoted a figure to my wife on a matter she's pursuing, for my income, which was current to within 30 days ago.. ) to DMV, to real source arrest records back to our childhood, depending on who is asking.

Anything to reign in the State (and perhaps firewall them more from the private sector in both directions) is a good thing in my book right now.

This court decision was another step, anyway.

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