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Can the FBI Secretly Track Your Cell Phone?
newsweek.com ^ | Feb. 10, 2010 | Michael Isikoff

Posted on 02/11/2010 11:08:16 AM PST by Free ThinkerNY

The Justice Department is poised this week to publicly defend a little-known law-enforcement practice that critics say may be the "sleeper" privacy issue of the 21st century: the collection of cell-phone "tracking" records that identify the physical locations where the phones have been.

It may come as a surprise to most of the owners of the country's 277 million cell phones, but their cell-phone company retains records of where their device has been at all times—either because the phones have tiny GPS devices embedded inside or because each phone call is routed through towers that can be used to pinpoint the phones' location to within areas as small as a few hundred feet.

Such location "logs" never show up on your monthly cell-phone bill. But federal court records filed over the past year indicate that federal prosecutors and the FBI have increasingly been obtaining such records in the course of criminal investigations—without any notice to the cell-phone customer or any showing of "probable cause" that tracking the physical location of the phone will turn up evidence of an actual crime.

"Most people don't understand they are carrying a tracking device in their pockets," says Kevin Bankston, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy group that has been trying to monitor the Justice Department's practice.

Much about the practice—including how many "tracking" records have been collected by the government—remains shrouded in secrecy. But in one court case in which the use of such records arose, a Philadelphia FBI agent named William Shute testified that he had obtained such records 150 times in recent years in order to track the location of federal fugitives.

(Excerpt) Read more at blog.newsweek.com ...


TOPICS: Politics
KEYWORDS: bhodoj; bigbrother; cellphone; cellphones; counterterrorism; cultureofcorruption; fbi; isikoff; lping; newsweak; obamalegacy; telecom
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1 posted on 02/11/2010 11:08:16 AM PST by Free ThinkerNY
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To: Free ThinkerNY
Anybody who watches crime shows on TV knows this.
2 posted on 02/11/2010 11:09:11 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (Islam is a religion of peace, and Muslims reserve the right to kill anyone who says otherwise.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

I wrap mine in alum-foil when I carry it around.

I miss alot of calls but it works...I think?


3 posted on 02/11/2010 11:11:40 AM PST by Pavegunner72
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To: Free ThinkerNY

This was the original purpose of making cell phone makers incorporate GPS positioning. The public was told that it was to help get emergency crews out to them more easily.


4 posted on 02/11/2010 11:12:16 AM PST by Leftism is Mentally Deranged
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To: Free ThinkerNY

thats why the feds mandated GPS capability for all cell phones a few years ago.


5 posted on 02/11/2010 11:13:04 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Free ThinkerNY
"Most people don't understand they are carrying a tracking device in their pockets," says Kevin Bankston, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy group that has been trying to monitor the Justice Department's practice.

Well, heck! If you're that worried about it, just wrap your cel phone in foil paper when you're not using it. Just pull if off, from time to time, to check your voice mail and make a few calls. LOL...

But, then again, if you're really paranoid, just get those throw-away phones, pay for it with cash and use it up and then throw it in the trash can...

I mean..., where there's a will, there's a way... :-)

6 posted on 02/11/2010 11:17:05 AM PST by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

I only put the battery in my cell phone when I need to make a call.


7 posted on 02/11/2010 11:17:36 AM PST by ▀udda▀udd (7 days - 7 ways Guero >>> with a floating, shifting, ever changing persona.....)
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To: driftdiver

Does this work if the phone is off?
What about my GMC vehicle with cell phone built in?
We have found the enemy, and they are us.
(us being US gov)


8 posted on 02/11/2010 11:18:00 AM PST by 9422WMR
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To: Free ThinkerNY

yes they can I think under the Patriot Act. I swear both parties are not that different, they think normal law-abiding citizens are the terrorist. :(


9 posted on 02/11/2010 11:20:43 AM PST by lmarie373 ("Im a light skinned mexican-american with no mexican dialect ")
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To: Free ThinkerNY
I keep mine disabled unless I need location info, but since simply calling 911 can re-enable it, I can envision that someone may have the ability to do that remotely. But I would most certainly know it if it occurred. Some phones don't have many options on this issue. I only buy phones that do.
10 posted on 02/11/2010 11:23:16 AM PST by Cold Heat
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To: Pavegunner72

A little known fact: In 2002 they started making aluminum foil out of silver colored paper.


11 posted on 02/11/2010 11:23:36 AM PST by DManA
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To: Cold Heat

Do you take the battery out?


12 posted on 02/11/2010 11:24:28 AM PST by DManA
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To: 9422WMR

Yes, the only way to disable the GPS tracking is to take the battery out. At least that is what I’ve heard.

Your GMC vehicle with OnStar is on all the time. GMC works pretty closely with law enforcement.


13 posted on 02/11/2010 11:24:53 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

I’m not particularly worried. Gee, I’m at work, the gym, the library, at home, or somewhere in between. Like my phone calls - BORING.

However, I am rather suspicious of the fact that these logs even exist. What business reason do they have for keeping track of people’s locations?


14 posted on 02/11/2010 11:24:56 AM PST by Little Ray (Madame President sounds really good to me...)
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To: Cold Heat

You don’t have any control over the function except to remove the battery. Your phone is tracking you all the time.


15 posted on 02/11/2010 11:26:02 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
If someone is so paranoid about not wanting to be tracked by the Police or F.B.I. they should • not own a cell phone, •never use a gas card, • don't take your car to a gas station because they all have security cameras capable of reading your license plate, • Always pay cash for everything, • Leave your car in the garage because you may drive buy a security camera, • Never cross an International border where you have to show a ID or Passport, • never enroll your child into a public school, scouts, or sports team, • don't go to a Doctor, and the list goes on and on and on.

Invasion of privacy, yes, BUT the number of really bad guys, including kid nappers, killers, and terrorist were taken off the streets because of these invasions is endless, and I for one am glad that Law Enforcements hands are not tied by silly damn lawyers. Yes, there is a line that I would not want them to cross, but using any of the above to “Protect” society from bad people is not the line.

16 posted on 02/11/2010 11:27:08 AM PST by NavyCanDo
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To: Little Ray

Would you also be ok with a cop following you around 24x7 and keeping a log of everything you do?

I mean if you don’t have anything to hide then you shouldn’t care how they track you.


17 posted on 02/11/2010 11:27:17 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

Psst! If you are worried about being tracked by the FBI, go with pre-paid. As long as you pay with pre-paid phone cards, nobody knows who the hell is using it. This is definitely an article aimed at the tinfoil hat crowd.


18 posted on 02/11/2010 11:27:34 AM PST by FlingWingFlyer (If the CIA and NASA are going to "monitor climate change", why the hell do we need the EPA?)
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To: NavyCanDo

Are you also ok with them entering your home without a warrant? Just trying to figure out where your line is.


19 posted on 02/11/2010 11:28:30 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: driftdiver

Cell phones.

And cars.

E-mails.

Anything electronic.

Do we think “Enemy of the State” did not have certain elements of truth in it?


20 posted on 02/11/2010 11:29:02 AM PST by combat_boots (The Lion of Judah cometh. Hallelujah. Gloria Patri, Filio et Spirito Sancto.)
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To: FlingWingFlyer

‘This is definitely an article aimed at the tinfoil hat crowd.”

yeah cause we all know a govt would NEVER abuse their power.


21 posted on 02/11/2010 11:29:14 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Free ThinkerNY
What amazes me is that no one talks about the other ways you are tracked. Why is no one screaming at the GPS/Navigation System companies? There are millions of them out there, each has a unique identifier and it sits in your car all the time.

they have been "tracking" you for years, even your cars have gps, toll tags, some credit cards, passports, laptops aircards, imbedded aircards, cell phones, pda's, etc. etc. all have the capabilities. Besides, look at all the cameras on the freeway/tollroad there for "weather and traffic" .... just talking out loud here...what other device(s) did i forget?

22 posted on 02/11/2010 11:29:57 AM PST by IllumiNaughtyByNature (3V3Ry71N' 084M4 D03z 83N3f17Z MU5l1mz. c01NC1d3nc3?)
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To: combat_boots

Heck some cars have black boxes in them that do the same thing. They’ve already been used in court cases against the cars owner.

One glaring problem with enemy of the state was that cage they went into. Totally isolated but still had network connectivity to the outside.

that and the govt workers were way too productive.


23 posted on 02/11/2010 11:31:16 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: DManA

Use lead foil or build a small portable Faraday Cage around your phone.... :oP


24 posted on 02/11/2010 11:31:47 AM PST by IllumiNaughtyByNature (3V3Ry71N' 084M4 D03z 83N3f17Z MU5l1mz. c01NC1d3nc3?)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

sure ...


25 posted on 02/11/2010 11:32:03 AM PST by gibtx2 (keep up the good work I am out of work but post 20 a month to this out of WF Check)
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To: driftdiver

26 posted on 02/11/2010 11:33:08 AM PST by stormer
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To: IllumiNaughtyByNature

‘what other device(s) did i forget?”

that chip they insert via the anal probe.

Several years ago i received a letter from the county doing a traffic study. They noted I had been seen at a specific time at a specific place, and listed both. For a ‘traffic study’ they wanted to know where I was coming from and going to, and the purpose of the trip.


27 posted on 02/11/2010 11:33:23 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Little Ray
Amazingly I believe the FBI would find my life so boring their secret agents would fall asleep tracking me.

I know there are others who view themselves as being so important the government tracks them 24/7 but I'm not among them.

Don't even need aluminum foil.

They want to find me, they got me.

28 posted on 02/11/2010 11:33:54 AM PST by muawiyah ("Git Out The Way")
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To: Little Ray

Data warehousing, data mining, distributed computing.

Analysis, synthesis and evaluation using huge databases.

That’s what one of the big things about health care was and is: the chip that’s smaller than a grain of rice, or, perhaps Hitachi’s ‘powder’ RFID.

You think about that and why you get the e-mails you do, the ads in your mailbox, the stray mailers, and the unsolicited coupons.

Cloud computing gone government.


29 posted on 02/11/2010 11:34:06 AM PST by combat_boots (The Lion of Judah cometh. Hallelujah. Gloria Patri, Filio et Spirito Sancto.)
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To: stormer

Yes I’m paranoid, but am I paranoid enough?

Its good to know you trust rahm, bo, reid, the ATF, and the DOJ to do anything they want.


30 posted on 02/11/2010 11:34:48 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: driftdiver

My biggest objection would the waste of taxpayer money and the mental abuse of one really bored cop. My life is that (pleasantly) boring.

But I’d still like to know the business reason for keeping these logs. Right now I’m getting an image of some Numerati (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0618784608/?tag=yahhyd-20&hvadid=42576703511&ref=pd_sl_919kofcwu6_e) using it to develop marketing programs.


31 posted on 02/11/2010 11:36:58 AM PST by Little Ray (Madame President sounds really good to me...)
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To: DManA

Blackberry. You can deny access to it.


32 posted on 02/11/2010 11:37:05 AM PST by Cold Heat
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To: driftdiver
When "they" (used to men "me") want to build a new postal finance station (where you set meters, buy stamps, and rent post office boxes) they survey people coming and going from the current PO.

That's to see where they originate from and where they are going.

A relatively simple model evaluates the data to see where a convenient location might be found.

This is based on the concepts behind the McDonald's technique for finding good places to do business.

Darned near everybody does this.

No, no one cares where you are going, or what you are doing, or where you live. The point is where were you last and where will you be next.

Biggest problem I recall finding back during the development phase was that a large percentage of the people had no idea where they were going next. They were just out kind of wandering around and stopped by the post office.

33 posted on 02/11/2010 11:37:22 AM PST by muawiyah ("Git Out The Way")
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To: Free ThinkerNY

Knowledge of this ability would go a long way towards helping me create a solid alibi, should I decide to kill somebody.


34 posted on 02/11/2010 11:38:41 AM PST by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: driftdiver
If the service is not running, it is not running!

It save the battery life as well so I do disable it and no, the GPS in my Blackberry is not turned on unless I want it on.

35 posted on 02/11/2010 11:39:20 AM PST by Cold Heat
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To: Little Ray

the business reason is so they can eventually send you marketing based on your location.

Outside a tire shop they’ll send you goodyear ads.
Outside a Victorias Secret they’ll send you Divorce lawyer ads.

The govt has shown they will abuse the information. This is the same govt that will jail a Navy Seal for giving a wanted terrorist a fat lip.

The war on drugs/crime/tight underwear is always the excuse for further infringement of our rights. What happens when they decide right wingers are potential terrorists. Oh wait they already do.


36 posted on 02/11/2010 11:40:47 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Little Ray

It’s probably because they have to buy frequencies from the fed govt. If the govt wants logs, they’ll get logs.


37 posted on 02/11/2010 11:41:03 AM PST by stuartcr (Everything happens as God wants it to...otherwise, things would be different)
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To: bamahead

Ping


38 posted on 02/11/2010 11:42:33 AM PST by EdReform (Oath Keepers - Guardians of the Republic - Honor your oath - Join us: www.oathkeepers.org)
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To: Free ThinkerNY
Legal analysis: These records are not the property of or in the possession of the suspected person, therefore the cellphone company can surrender them at will.

Journalistic analysis: By using terms such a “equivalent of a search warrant” and “obscure provisions” of a law, the writer is showing his bias in favor the defendants.

There are no “equivalents of a search warrant;” there are only legally authorized search warrants, which, by law, are not needed in these cases.

The only time any portion or provision of a law is “obscure” is when a lawyer doesn't want it applied to his client.

It's all very simple, and the people understand it if the judges and journalists do not: “If you don't want to do the time, don't do the crime.”

39 posted on 02/11/2010 11:44:09 AM PST by MindBender26 (Prezdet Obama is what you get when you let the O.J. jury select a president !)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

If anyone listens to me they are in for very boring conversations.

“Where are you?
When are you coming home?
Drive careful and watch out for the other guy!
God bless you honey!
I love you!
How’s the kids? Give them our love!
Where’s Ron?
Did you get your money straightened out?
Did you talk to Ryder?
Kiss the girls for me.
How is everyone?
What? what? you’re breaking up.
Let’s talk later.
Okay.
Thank you sweetie!
Thank you for the flowers!
You’re sweet!
See you later.
Hugs!”

:-) Like I said...they will be very bored.


40 posted on 02/11/2010 11:44:45 AM PST by LadyPilgrim ((Lifted up was He to die; It is finished was His cry; Hallelujah what a Savior!!!!!! ))
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To: Free ThinkerNY

I don’t care, unless it has something to do with that annoying helicopter that keeps hovering over my house. Otherwise, the FBI, phone company, CIA, NAACP can monitor away. I can see why others might be concerned.


41 posted on 02/11/2010 11:45:34 AM PST by pallis
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To: muawiyah

Nobody cares until they have a criminal case to prove and happen to have information that you were in the area.

They whole idea that you will give up your liberty when our govt is being pushed into communism is sad.


42 posted on 02/11/2010 11:49:54 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: driftdiver
Your phone is tracking you all the time.

I want to get into some of the technical aspects of this issue.

There are two services that a smart phone has that are part of the phone's OS and are accessible to the user on a Blackberry.

There is the GPS chip that actually does the work, and there is a service that turns the chip on or off, or controls when and where the chip is needed. You can turn off the GPS, but without disabling the program service, different apps can turn it on for you. If you disable both the chip and the service, the chip will not turn on with one exception and this is the 911 call. The government demanded that this system work and it cannot be turned off however it only works if 911 is called. That action bypasses any settings and the service turns the chip on so that the 911 operator can locate the phone.

The only other way to locate you and it would not be very accurate, would be to know about where you are so the cell tower could be located. The phone could be pinged and the reply ping could be triangulated. This is done often enough, but you must know the general vicinity first.

As to the GPS, that baby ain't turning on unless I tell it too. I have both the GPS and the service that controls it turned off. The only way it turns on is to physically dial 911.

43 posted on 02/11/2010 11:52:52 AM PST by Cold Heat
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To: EdReform; Abathar; Abcdefg; Abram; Abundy; akatel; albertp; AlexandriaDuke; Alexander Rubin; ...



Libertarian ping! Click here to get added or here to be removed or post a message here!
View past Libertarian pings here
44 posted on 02/11/2010 11:53:22 AM PST by bamahead (Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master. -- Sallust)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

btt


45 posted on 02/11/2010 11:54:04 AM PST by GailA (obamacare paid for by cuts & taxes on most vulnerable Veterans, disabled,seniors & retired Military)
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To: Cold Heat

Or to have a call made to your phone that would initiate the 911 calling procedure.


46 posted on 02/11/2010 11:56:51 AM PST by stuartcr (Everything happens as God wants it to...otherwise, things would be different)
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To: Cold Heat

the govt goes to the effort to force cell phone manufacturers to install GPS and then allows them to put an off switch in? got any bridges for sale?


47 posted on 02/11/2010 11:57:11 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: 9422WMR
The GPS on some phones can be accessed when off. There are lists on web sites that are updated frequently.

OnStar can access unless the battery is disconnected or you had the unit removed.

48 posted on 02/11/2010 11:59:30 AM PST by mad_as_he$$ (usff.com)
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To: Little Ray
What they look for is a break in routine. Routines are bad from an investigative point of view.
49 posted on 02/11/2010 12:00:51 PM PST by mad_as_he$$ (usff.com)
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To: Free ThinkerNY

Someone thinks this is news? Even if your phone doesn’t have GPS, your phone can be tracked, although with a lower level of accuracy.


50 posted on 02/11/2010 12:03:07 PM PST by Cymbaline (Bipartisan consensus - that's like when my doctor and my lawyer agree with my wife that I need help.)
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