he government can track your every move through you cell phone, and the Obama administration wants a Philadelphia appeals court to approve doing so without a warrant. The Justice Department says the records are fair game if it has "reasonable grounds" to think someone has committed a crime -- a lower bar than the probable cause required for a warrant. The ACLU and other privacy advocates say the tracking violates Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Is cell-phone tracking a vital crime-fighting tool, or a creepy sign that "Big Brother" is watching us? (Watch a Fox report about the government's cell-phone tracking)
You don't want Uncle Sam to have this power: "Honest to God, what do these people have against search warrants?" asks Kevin Drum in Mother Jones. If the FBI gets its way, it can track practically any of us, anywhere in the country, "whenever it feels like it." And the feds would surely feel like it often, since tracking is cheaper than, "say, tailing a suspect."
"What part of search warrant don't you understand?"
Cell phone locations are fair game: The fears of federal "dragnet surveillance" via cell phone are "outlandish," says Justice Department official Mark Eckenwiler, quoted in Newsweek. All we want are "routine business records" from phone companies, and since those records don't even have any "content," they're "unprotected" by the Fourth Amendment.
"Can the FBI secretly track your cell phone?"
Get a warrant -- that's how we've always caught criminals: Tracking suspects through their cell phones is an effective and "appropriate" tool for fighting crime -- with a search warrant, says ACLU attorney Catherine Crump in The Philadelphia Inquirer. "Innocent Americans," though, have the right to go to church, their therapist's office, or a friend's house without the government snooping.
"Cellular user privacy at risk"
Stalk al Qaida, not Americans: I'm with the ACLU on this one, says Don Surber in the Charleston, W.V. Daily Mail. At least when George W. Bush violated our civil liberties, he was going after foreign terrorists. Here's a suggestion for Obama's FBI: "tap Bin Laden's phone, not mine."
"Wiretapping, Obama style"
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