Police cell phone tracking now ubiquitous
Tool used with virtually no judicial oversight.
Police can watch your every move via your cell phone. More importantly, the practice is becoming routine, even in non-emergency cases and there is virtually no oversight of the practice. Even small, rural departments are tapping into networks on a routine basis.
Without privacy, the state can ensure your cooperation.
But that doesn't stop them.
It helps that the cellular companies profit from it too. Several carriers charge "surveillance fees" to police for accessing data from their networks. The arrangement works, the police get their man and the cellular networks turn a profit.
For a fee, phones that are turned off can be "cloned" allowing police to read text messages and other sensitive information.
Police have been instructed not to discuss this practice with the public and have even been told to omit any references to it in their reports. Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times reveal the reticence of the police to discuss the practice with others.
The Iowa City Police Department warns in a training manual, "Do not mention to the public or the media the use of cell phone technology or equipment used to locate the targeted subject." Records show this admonishment is alarmingly typical.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled last year that the unwarranted GPS tracking of a subject amounted to an illegal search. Despite that, police continue to use GPS information from cellular networks without warrants.
Nothing to hide, nothing to fear
Privacy is the first line of defense in a free society. The founding fathers were familiar with a time when individual rights were not guaranteed, and privacy wasn't considered a right. The accused could be compelled to incriminate themselves and searches of property could be conducted without justification. This allowed public officials to harass and even condemn innocent people who had the misfortune of holding an unpopular belief or crossing the wrong person.
In our modern society, we seem to have forgotten this valuable benefit of privacy because we do not perceive a threat to our everyday dealings. We take for granted that we do not have to answer to others for our personal opinions or practices. But slowly, almost imperceptibly, the environment is changing to one that can endorse and even encourage stalking, harassment, and facilitates hostility towards the individual.
It is not recognized that privacy protection also has practical benefits in our society, such as protection from identity theft and fraud. It protects our freedom of speech and our religious and political opinions. It protects us from zealous employers, jealous admirers, ex-lovers, and legal harassment.
And it is perfectly reasonable to expect the elements of our society that exercise coercive power over us (government agencies, especially the police) to respect and (astonishingly?!) even defend that right.
It is true, in a prima facie sense, that restricting the use of this powerful tool to those cases that involve life-threatening, emergency situations could leave our society in a little more danger. But the annals of history show that we have more to fear from the coercion of corrupt governments that the misdeeds of the occasional criminal. Criminals do cause harm, they hurt thousands of people every year. It is appropriate to have concern and take measures against them.
But unjust governments tally butcher bills in the millions. And I'd rather risk the actions of a lone crook than the machinations of a totalitarian regime.
And so should you.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: police, cell phone, tracking, privacy, American Civil Liberties Union, rights
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Politics & Policy News
- E.W. Jackson Wins Nomination as Republican Candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
- Food stamps hang in the balance as lawmakers debate cost
- News to ruin your morning: IRS official who targeted conservatives for audit now oversees your Obamacare compliance
- Culture of Corruption, Obama pays Sarah Ingram extra for her harassment of conservatives
- Culture of Corruption: Why Obama's misuse of Marines is wrong
- Rubio: Obama's intimidation of tea party groups 'not in isolation'
- Editorial: Is the Scandal Ridden Obama Administration Becoming a House of Cards?
- Obama asks for more money, Marines to protect embassies
- President stands ground against Republican critics
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?