Tice said his information is different from the Terrorist Surveillance Program that Bush acknowledged in December and from news accounts this week that the NSA has been secretly collecting phone call records of millions of Americans. “It’s an angle that you haven’t heard about yet,” he said.
For years, my guess has been that this other angle of the mass intercept program is related to persistent geosurveillance of targeted individuals. At a minimum, this is probably a component of the MAIN CORE system.
In the article below, Declan McCullagh writes, “Cellular providers tend not to retain moment-by-moment logs of when each mobile device contacts the tower, in part because there’s no business reason to store the data, and in part because the storage costs would be prohibitive.”
Focusing on the network operators misses the point. The beam splitters don’t discriminate; they send a copy of everything, every single bit, to Uncle. So, sure, the carriers don’t want to spend money on archiving all of that surveillance data, but what is the state doing with its copy of the stream?
The answer is: We have almost no idea, and the Obama regime is determined to make sure that it stays that way.
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.
Those claims have alarmed the ACLU and other civil liberties groups, which have opposed the Justice Department’s request and plan to tell the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia that Americans’ privacy deserves more protection and judicial oversight than what the administration has proposed.
“This is a critical question for privacy in the 21st century,” says Kevin Bankston, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who will be arguing on Friday. “If the courts do side with the government, that means that everywhere we go, in the real world and online, will be an open book to the government unprotected by the Fourth Amendment.”
Cellular providers tend not to retain moment-by-moment logs of when each mobile device contacts the tower, in part because there’s no business reason to store the data, and in part because the storage costs would be prohibitive. They do, however, keep records of what tower is in use when a call is initiated or answered–and those records are generally stored for six months to a year, depending on the company.
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