The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Privacy Advocates Attack Cell-phone Surveillance

by Brendan Coyne

Sept. 28, 2005 – In court papers filed yesterday, a privacy rights group urged a New York federal court to stand by a prior decision and disallow federal law enforcement agencies from tracking mobile telephones in the absence of probable cause.

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Yesterday’s friend-of-the-court brief by the Electronic Frontier Foundation cited evidence uncovered as part of a court finding last month that the Justice Department was using cell-phone taps without having to first show likelihood that a crime was being or had been committed. The group asked Magistrate Judge James Orenstein to stand by his decision to officially extend privacy protections to the cell-phone-using public.

In a statement issued in conjunction with the filing, the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted that most people are unaware that many cell phones carry global positioning devices that technically enable them to be located and tracked by satellites even when not in use. Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston warned that "allowing the government to turn anyone's cell phone into a tracking device without probable cause will enable a surveillance society that would make Big Brother jealous."

Authorities maintain that utilizing cell phones for tracking people has been very helpful in finding criminals. In addition, it is widely believed that there are no existing legal prohibitions on using global positioning technology to conduct surreptitious surveillance, the Buffalo News noted Monday.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.


Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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