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Ear to the Ground

Cellphone Tracking Has a Friend Down at Headquarters

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Posted on Apr 1, 2012
Scott Ableman (CC-BY)

You already knew it was happening, but The New York Times points to internal documents to confirm that police departments across the country are using cellphone-tracking technology aggressively in all kinds of investigations, often without a court order or judicial oversight. —ARK

The New York Times:

The practice has become big business for cellphone companies, too, with a handful of carriers marketing a catalog of “surveillance fees” to police departments to determine a suspect’s location, trace phone calls and texts or provide other services. Some departments log dozens of traces a month for both emergencies and routine investigations.

With cellphones ubiquitous, the police call phone tracing a valuable weapon in emergencies like child abductions and suicide calls and investigations in drug cases and murders. One police training manual describes cellphones as “the virtual biographer of our daily activities,” providing a hunting ground for learning contacts and travels.

But civil liberties advocates say the wider use of cell tracking raises legal and constitutional questions, particularly when the police act without judicial orders. While many departments require warrants to use phone tracking in nonemergencies, others claim broad discretion to get the records on their own, according to 5,500 pages of internal records obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union from 205 police departments nationwide.

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By gerard, April 2, 2012 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

If the government has a right to tap into all our private messages as a matter of course, why is it so wrong for hackers and others to tap into government’s “classified” messages that involve
“diplomatic” messages between officials regarding low-security political matters which are of importance as public information?  Why should the government suspect its citizens whereas citizens are considered “disloyal” if they suspect their goveernment?  Does the government owe no trust and no loyalty to its citizens?  And contrarily, if the government distrusts its citizens, is it not logical that the citizens will distruct their government?

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By Maani, April 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm Link to this comment

Actually, those of us who don’t have a “smartphone” are immune.  And for those who do, it is a fairly simple matter to turn off the tracking chip in the phone.  If you don’t know how, there are easy guides all over the Net.  Of course, the best way to avoid being “tracked” (assuming law enforcement gives a shit about you…LOL) is to turn the phone off and remove the battery when you are not using it.

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By me, too, April 1, 2012 at 10:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

http:// http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/04

Perhaps using his cell phone to track him wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all!?!

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By bluzmstr2, April 1, 2012 at 10:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

http://rt.com/news/poland-cia-secret-prison-968/

Who knew??

And americans call themselves informed voters.  Ha!

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By jr., April 1, 2012 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

That has always been, at least one reason, i have never, and probably will never, carry one.  Don’t care to be that connected.  Thank you very much.

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