What Secrets Is Your Cell Phone Company Telling the Government About You?
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Most disturbing, the ACLU found that most agencies that engaged in cell-phone tracking did not obtain a warrant, subpoena or other court order. Worse still, it found that no common, nation-wide standard regarding tracking was in place or acknowledged by these different law enforcement groups. To put in ACLU-speak, " the legal standards used vary widely."
This points to a compelling difference in one of the key findings in the information gathered by Rep. Markey and the ACLU. Where each and every wireless company replying to the congressional inquiry swore on a stack of bibles that it fulfilled law enforcement requests based on one of two criteria: (i) did it involve an “exigent” circumstance (a 9-1-1 inquiry)? or (ii) did the company receive a valid warrant, etc.? All requests were fulfilled based on these terms.
There is a peculiar difference between what the cellphone companies “formally” report (i.e., in a legal document) and what police agencies “informally” admit (i.e., in a nonbinding questionnaire). It is an interesting grey area. The difference between the claims – i.e., carriers met legal requirements vs. agencies rarely use warrants – is, in all likelihood, the shared fiction that keeps the whole system of deceit functioning.
The ACLU says, “It is time for Americans to take back their privacy.” Why is this issue not being addressed during the presidential campaign? Surely, it is something that could unite both the far left and the far right, for is not the loss of personal privacy an issue for all those opposed to “big government”? In all likelihood, the issue will be avoided as both Obama and Romney share a common belief in big government when it comes to the subversion of privacy rights.
The great irony of 21st-century America is that as corporations gain more personhood, citizens are loosing theirs. Rep. Markey, dig deeper: let's see how far we’ve come in fashioning the new police information state.