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Cell Phone Tracking by Police Is Legal, Says Federal Court

Written by Gary North on August 20, 2012

Your cell phone sends out a signal that reveals where it is. “Can you hear me now? I’m right here.” Therefore, the authorities can find out where it is. If it is with you, then they know where you are.

Doesn’t the Fourth Amendment protect us from unreasonable searches and seizures? According to the 6th Court of Appeals of the U.S. government, cell phone tracking is not unreasonable.

This even applies to a pre-paid cell phone.

This ruling does not apply outside the 6th District. But it is now a legal precedent that law enforcement authorities will use in other districts. It could spread.

The majority opinion said this: “When criminals use modern technological devices to carry out criminal acts and to reduce the possibility of detection, they can hardly complain when the police take advantage of the inherent characteristics of those very devices to catch them.”

The violation came in 2006. It has taken this long to bet a ruling.

The police obtained the phone number from a member of a ring of criminals. He squealed. Maybe the victim should call this a ring tone. One the police had the number, they could follow him.

They got a court order from the cell phone company to find out where he was.

The majority also said: “There is no Fourth Amendment violation because Skinner did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the data given off by his voluntarily procured pay-as-you-go cellphone.” He cited the Stored Communications Act. If a third party provider is involved — phone company — the fourth amendment is weakened.

It turns out that the police did not get a warrant from a judge to track the criminal. The Court ignored this.

Google is going to introduce a smart phone next month for under $200. Before you buy it, find out if Google will know where you live when it tracks how you use this phone to do searches. How could it know? Maybe it will assume that you live wherever the phone is kept — turned off — at night. They are not really ever turned off.

Privacy is pretty much gone these days. I do not think it’s coming back.

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5 thoughts on “Cell Phone Tracking by Police Is Legal, Says Federal Court

  1. Abraham Obama says:

    First off the bozo who wrote this article needs to learn a little more about technology. Yes when you turn off your phone there is no signal being sent or received. It is OFF. If you are afraid then pull the battery. And finally it seems that this only applies to criminals. So what if Big Brother knows that I am home. He would not be looking unless I was suspected of committing a crime. As long as the police cannot tap your conversation or go into your house without a warrant what does it matter if they know where you are? If you use a credit card they can track you. If you are worried then use cash only and pull your battery but this is only necessary if you are on the run from the police.

  2. You have a very appropriate nom-de-keyboard.

    You're wrong about the cell phone technology. It still emits signals when it's turned off. Yes, you can pull the battery.

    But more important, the naivete that the police are only going to be watching you if you're some sort of criminal, in this day and age, is astounding. Tracking your movements is a police state tactic, and as Beria told Stalin, "Show me the man and I'll show you the crime". If there is no specific charge against you, and no warrant, they should not be allowed to do this according to the Constitution, but as Dr. North explains, that document is just a piece of G.D. paper in the eyes of the law.

    Ever heard of the PATRIOT Act? The courts have ruled that it's okay for government agents to search your house when you're not there, tap your phone, and arrest you with nothing more than a suspicion that you're involved in terrorism, drug dealing, or whatever the crime du jour is. Add to that the ruling on the NDAA that makes it legal for the President to assassinate you without even a trial. Start wising up, and start getting scared.

  3. Blair Franconia, NH says:

    If there's a missing person, it could possibly save a life.

  4. “Your cell phone sends out a signal that reveals where it is.”

    Do you know if this is true, only, on GPS cell phones or also non-GPS?

  5. TeeBirdGuy says:

    ow do they know YOU even have your phone? Someone else could have your phone, if your a criminal, just buy a phone in someone else's name, right?