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Tag: Cell phones

MassLive: Justice Department Is Wrong to Work with CIA on Spying on Americans

By MassLive
Editorial

If the CIA and the Justice Department were to get married, what kind of kids might the odd couple have?

One answer: Spies who’d believe that they possess the legal smarts to talk their way out of nearly anything.

When The Wall Street Journal reported late last year that the Justice Department was operating airplanes that flew across the land carrying devices mimicking cell towers scooping up details about the mobile phones of innocent citizens below – normal people who were accused of nothing, suspected of nothing, all in the name of tracking a few criminal suspects – we said in this space that the program was fundamentally anti-democratic. It was, plainly stated, un-American.

To have the authorities flying over the land and sweeping up information about the citizenry – even if it was in the name of locating a few bad actors – treated ordinary people like outlaws. We asked at the time – and we’ll ask again now – what becomes of the data that the Justice Department gathers? Who has access to it? How long is it retained?

Now comes a new report in the Journal detailing the CIA’s work with Justice. The U.S. Department of Justice is supposed to be working to enforce the law, not seeking to find novel ways to spy on the people. And our nation’s Central Intelligence Agency, established in 1947, was created to watch over the doings in foreign lands, not to aid Justice in spying on the American citizens.

To read more click here.

Democratic Senator Creates Bill to Counter FBI Attempts to Make Cell Phones Less Secure

Sen. Ron Wyden, via the Senate

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

As FBI Director James Comey wants to force phone makers to create products that are easier to monitor, a Democratic senator is trying to pass a law that would protect the consumer’s privacy, Gizmodo reports.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon has proposed the Secure Data Act “to protect Americans’ privacy and data security.”

The bill is an attempt to revive trust in the use of technology and data.

“Strong encryption and sound computer security is the best way to keep Americans’ data safe from hackers and foreign threats,” he explained in statement. “It is the best way to protect our constitutional rights at a time when a person’s whole life can often be found on his or her smartphone.”

The bill aims to block any government attempts to make data security less strong.

FBI Director Comey: ‘You Cannot Trust People in power,’ Question Authority

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey said it’s important that the government have the authority to access any American’s phone, he said in a “60 Minutes” interview.

The New York Daily News reports that Comey struck a balanced tone, saying he also thought it was important for Americans to be “deeply skeptical” of the government.

Comey emphasized that access to phones is granted by a judge when the information is critical to a criminal case or security issue.

But don’t stop questioning the government, he said.

“You cannot trust people in power,” he added.

Police Who Want to Use Federal Cell Phone Surveillance Required to Keep Technology quiet

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has prohibited local and state police from discussing the capabilities of surveillance technology that enables law enforcement to eavesdrop on cell phone calls, the Washington Post reports.

A letter obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that the FBI requires police departments to sign a “non-disclosure agreement” before buying the equipment.

The so-called cell site simulators trick phones into routing their calls through surveillance, the Washington Post wrote.

The FBI said the disclosure of the technology could make it possible for criminals to avoid or detect the surveillance.

“The FBI routinely asserts the law enforcement sensitive privilege over cell site simulator equipment because discussion of the capabilities and use of the equipment in court would allow criminal defendants, criminal enterprises, or foreign powers, should they gain access to the items, to determine the FBI’s techniques, procedures, limitations, and capabilities in this area,” said an affidavit by an FBI official in April.

Border Patrol Cracks Down on Agents’ Use of Personal Technology After Alarming Photos Turn Up

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Photos that were leaked from overcrowded Border Patrol processing centers has prompted the federal agency to ban agents from using personal technology in some areas, TownHall.com reports.

The photos show children sleeping in cramped areas surrounded by chain-linked cages.

“Due to the recent unauthorized use of a personally owned electronic device in the Nogales Processing Center, the use of such devices will be restricted to locations outside of detention areas,” Lawson wrote in a June 6 memo to all employees at the Nogales station. “Effective immediately, the use of personally owned cellular phones, cameras, or recording devices in the Nogales Detention Facility and the Nogales Processing Center is strictly prohibited. All personnel working or visiting detention facilities at the Nogales Station will be required to turn off these electronic devices and store them in a locker other secure location prior to entering the detention area.”

The agency also has threatened to fire any employees responsible for leaking the photos.

“Apparently they are so ticked over these photos that they are going to fire the person that leaked them,” one source said.

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Supreme Court to Consider Warrantless Cell Phone Searches

 
 
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The U. S. Supreme Court will hear argument today on two cases involving warrantless searches of cell phones. The case is probably the most important and most difficult 4th Amendment case of the term. Lower courts are split on the issue, and the number and tone of the appellate briefs in the cases illustrate the future ramifications of the case in the Cyber Age.

In U.S. v. Wurie the Court of Appeals threw out drug and firearm convictions for a defendant whose cell phone was searched incident to his arrest. The California Court of Appeals went the other direction in Riley v. California, upholding the police search of a man’s cell phone when he was arrested on firearms charges. The search produced data linking him to a gang shooting, and he was convicted of attempted murder.

Warrantless searches of all materials on the person of one lawfully arrested have traditionally been upheld without serious controversy. Isn’t the cell phone just a 21st Century version of a personal notebook or photo album? That is why many, perhaps most, commentators are predicting that the conservative majority of the Court will hand down a decision sometime before the end of the term in June which upholds the law enforcement position in these cases.

However, several factors seemingly unconnected to traditional 4th Amendment theory make this a much closer question. First, everyone including Supreme Court Justices has a cell phone and increasingly relies on it for a variety of purposes. Second, the latest cell phone technology has an ever-expanding capacity to store all kinds of private information. Finally, the Court has shown an increasing propensity to rein in law enforcement’s use of advanced technology. Thermal imaging, DNA, and transponders are a few of the techniques found to be “unreasonable searches” without prior judicial authorization. Traditionally conservative Justice Anton Scalia has surprised many by his views in this area.

Prediction: 5-4 vote requiring warrants for cell phone searches incident to arrests.

Google Defies FBI Attempts to Gain Cell Phone Passwords

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A defiant Google earlier this year refused to unlock a suspected pimp’s cellphone, prompting a potential legal battle with the FBI that could have sweeping ramifications, the Wall Street Journal reports.

When the FBI can’t unlock cell phone information, such as texts, phone numbers and emails, it appears the agency is asking smartphone software makers for passwords, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Asking for passwords “is awfully new and aggressive,” said Paul Ohm, associate professor at the University of Colorado Law School and former federal prosecutor.

To date, there are no legal standards about obtaining passwords from phone makers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

FBI Opens Investigation into Murdoch’s Reporters

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is now looking into the scandal involving Rupert Murdoch’s Brit reporters to see if they tried to access cellphone record messages and records of 9/11 victims, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The FBI has opened up a preliminary probe into the scandal that has rocked Great Britain, and raised questions about the future of Murdoch’s prosperous media empire, News Corp.

The Times reported that U.S. officials said the FBI is trying to determine whether to launch a full-fledged investigation.

To read more click here.

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