Two years ago, when the FBI was stymied by a band of armed robbers known as the "Scarecrow Bandits" that had robbed more than 20 Texas banks, it came up with a novel method of locating the thieves.You will find the entire article at this link.
FBI agents obtained logs from mobile phone companies corresponding to what their cellular towers had recorded at the time of a dozen different bank robberies in the Dallas area. The voluminous records showed that two phones had made calls around the time of all 12 heists, and that those phones belonged to men named Tony Hewitt and Corey Duffey. A jury eventually convicted the duo of multiple bank robbery and weapons charges.
Even though police are tapping into the locations of mobile phones thousands of times a year, the legal ground rules remain unclear, and federal privacy laws written a generation ago are ambiguous at best. On Friday, the first federal appeals court to consider the topic will hear oral arguments (PDF) in a case that could establish new standards for locating wireless devices.
In that case, the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in their--or at least their cell phones'--whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that "a customer's Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records" that show where a mobile device placed and received calls.
It appears our Constitution is about to be shat upon yet again by the federal government, and the 4th Amendment thereof may be about to take in right in the neck.
Just like CARNIVORE and ECHELON, I doubt we will be hearing much from the left over this outrage. After all, one of their own is currently in the White House, so that makes this sort of nonsense acceptable in their twisted way of thinking.
Of course, if George W. Bush was still POTUS, these very same hypocrites would be spinning on their eyebrows and spitting nails, while accusing GWB of being everything but a child of God.
Understand, I have no problem with law enforcement using available technology to track real criminals, particularly those who pose a danger to innocents, but they at least should have to obtain a warrant to do so. I would even support a streamlined process to speed up the process, but only if it is very tightly controlled.
Obviously our system of privacy laws has a very long way to go before it catches up with rapidly advancing technologies. This is not a little dangerous to those of us who believe in our right to privacy and the 4th Amendment, as government could get away with a lot of shenanigans in the interim.
It's even more of a concern when you take into consideration the decidedly totalitarian leanings of those currently in power, and who seem to often operate is if the Constitution does not apply to them.
Stay tuned, because this hideous story is far from over.