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Posts Tagged ‘surveillance’

Police Tapped Sprint Customer GPS Data 8 Million Times In A Year

TPM Muckraker

Justin Elliott | December 4, 2009, 6:03PM

Under a new system set up by Sprint, law enforcement agencies have gotten GPS data from the company about its wireless customers 8 million times in about a year, raising a host of questions about consumer privacy, transparency, and oversight of how police obtain location data.

What this means — and what many wireless customers no doubt do not realize — is that with a few keystrokes, police can determine in real time the location of a cell phone user through automated systems set up by the phone companies.

And while a Sprint spokesman told us customers can shield themselves from surveillance by simply switching off the GPS function of their phones, one expert told TPM that the company and other carriers almost certainly have the power to remotely switch the function back on.

To be clear, you can think of there being two types of GPS (global positioning system). One is the handy software on your mobile device that tells you where you are and helps give driving directions. But there’s also GPS capability in all cell phones sold today, required by a federal regulation so if you dial 911 from an unknown location, authorities can find you.

Sprint says the 8 million requests represent “thousands” of individual customers — it won’t say how many exactly — and that the company follows the law. It’s not clear, however, if warrants are always needed, or whether they have been obtained by police for all the cases.

We know the 8 million number thanks to an Indiana University graduate student named Christopher Soghoian, who has made headlines before for investigations of privacy and tech issues.

MORE HERE

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Dozens of secret Bush surveillance, executive power memos found; Could be made public

Raw Story- John Byrne
Published: Tuesday February 3, 2009

Details about more than three dozen secret memoranda written by Bush Administration officials now sit atop a chart created by a public interest reporting group. The memos track new details about dozens of secret Bush Administration legal positions on torture, detention and warrantless wiretapping.

Meanwhile, Obama’s freshly-confirmed Attorney General Eric Holder told senators that he was open to declassifying White House legal memos if no support for their original classification could be found, signaling a likely showdown with former President George W. Bush over executive privilege.

“The Bush administration’s controversial policies on detentions, interrogations and warrantless wiretapping were underpinned by legal memoranda,” Pro Publica’s Dan Nguyen and Christopher Weaver write. “While some of those memos have been released (primarily as a result of ACLU lawsuits), the former administration kept far more memos secret than has been previously understood. At least three dozen by our count.”

Nguyen and Weaver produced the chart. Propublica was founded in 2007 as a non-profit driven investigative news outlet and is run by a former managing editor from the Wall Street Journal.

The chart lists 40 memos that remain secret, along with identifying the 12 that have been made public.

Click for more

Given the chart, one can find the exact date a memo was written, its author and sometimes short details the authors have gleaned from other sources.

Among the memos’ titles: “Criminal Charges against U.S. terrorists”; “Options for Interpreting the Geneva Convention” and “Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to military operations abroad or in U.S.”

LARGER CHART & MORE HERE

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Civil rights group to Obama: Release secret Bush memos

Raw Story- Mike Sheehan
Published: Wednesday January 28, 2009

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is calling on the Justice Department to release Bush administration documentation pertaining to torture, surveillance and other controversial national security policies.

The civil rights watchdog sent a letter today to the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the same office that provided legal advice to the White House under George W. Bush.

The secret memos were essentially the legal foundation for many of the Bush adminstration’s questionable practices, says the ACLU in a news release received by Raw Story.

The Bush White House vigorously fought the release of such revealing (some would say, damning) documentation in the interests, it insisted, of protecting national security and other factors.

The ACLU’s filing of the Freedom of Information Act request follows President Obama’s recent directive to minimize federal secrecy and “usher in a new era of open government.”

The request is seen as a test of the freshly inaugurated president’s transparency policy. “The ACLU now sees a new opening,” writes Marisa Taylor of McClatchy Newspapers.

The new policy is a promise by Obama that the rights group hopes he follows through with. “President Obama should be commended” for his commitment to openness, said an ACLU director. “We’re eager to see this commitment put into practice.”

The release of the secret documentation will help the nation–and the world–move on from the “lawless conduct” of the Bush administration, the ACLU argues.

More details on the ACLU’s pursuit of the information release is here. Excerpts from their press release today follow…

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