Rogue cell towers discovered in Washington, D.C. | CSO Online

A simple drive with a CryptoPhone reveals fifteen new rogue sites, by Steve Ragan

Towards the end of July, ESD America, the makers of the ultra-secure CryptoPhone, said that their engineers and customers had discovered more than a dozen rogue cell towers (also known as interceptors or IMSI catchers) around the U.S.

New information shows that the discovered towers might only represent a small fraction of the whole, and what’s been discovered doesn’t account for the mobile base stations that are only active on a limited basis.

Interceptors are a huge risk if used by a malicious actor. That’s because once a device connects to them, the interceptor’s operator can perform a number of tasks, including eavesdrop on calls or text messages, or in some cases push data (spyware for example) to the device. This is why they’re only supposed to be used by law enforcement or the government.

However, that doesn’t mean that the government or law enforcement haven’t found themselves in the hot seat for abusing an interceptor’s functionality. The potential for abuse and wide availability of the technology, including home-grown versions that work just as well as their commercial counterparts, means that the existence of unknown interceptors are a major concern. Continue reading

Can Police Search Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant? The Supreme Court is About to Decide | Liberty Blitzkrieg

Two very important cases related to the 4th Amendment protection of cellphone data went before the Supreme Court yesterday. At issue here is whether or not police can search someone’s cellphone upon arrest. As usual, the Obama administration’s Justice Department is arguing against the citizenry, and in favor of the (police) state. Let’s not forget that the “Justice” Department also argued in favor of the police being able to place GPS tracking devices on people’s cars without a warrant back in 2011. Fortunately, the Supreme Court ruled against it.

Naturally, the feds in the current case will discuss all of the criminals they were able to bring to justice as a result of these privacy violations, but they will certainly not point out America’s current epidemic of unlawful arrests, as well as arrests for petty non-violent crimes that happen each and every day. For instance, let’s not forget statistics that came out last fall from the FBI that showed police make an arrest every two seconds in the USA. I covered this in detail in my post: Land of the Free: American Police Make an Arrest Every 2 Seconds in 2012. Continue reading

Should You Go to Jail for Unlocking Your Phone? | Reason

Derek Khanna on copyright, the DMCA, and the terrible law against freeing your cellphone

As Secretive “Stingray” Surveillance Tool Becomes More Pervasive, Questions Over Its Illegality Increase | EFF

A few months ago, EFF warned of a secretive new surveillance tool being used by the FBI in cases around the country commonly referred to as a “Stingray.” Recently, more information on the device has come to light and it makes us even more concerned than before.

The device, which acts as a fake cell phone tower, essentially allows the government to electronically search large areas for a particular cell phone’s signal—sucking down data on potentially thousands of innocent people along the way. At the same time, law enforcement has attempted use them while avoiding many of the traditional limitations set forth in the Constitution, like individualized warrants. This is why we called the tool “an unconstitutional, all-you-can-eat data buffet.” Continue reading

Sixth Circuit Rules That Pinging a Cell Phone to Determine Its Location is Not a 4th Amendment “Search” | Volokh

The decision handed down this morning is United States v. Skinner, and it was 2-1 on the Fourth Amendment merits. The defendant used a pre-paid cell phone obtained by providing false identity information (also known as a “burner“) to communicate with co-conspirators as he brought a motor home filled with marijuana from Arizona from Tennessee. Agents learned the cell phone number that the defendant was using and obtained a court order requiring the cell phone company to disclose location information of the phone to the agents. The government used the location information to track the car for three days, eventually catching up to the car ata rest stop in Texas. Local police brought out a dog to sniff for marijuana; the dog alerted for the presence of drugs inside; and the search of the car revealed 1,100 pounds of marijuana inside. Continue reading

It’s legal: cops seize cell phone, impersonate owner | Ars Technica

Everybody loves texting (click to jump to source article)

In November 2009, police officers in the state of Washington seized an iPhone belonging to suspected drug dealer Daniel Lee. While the phone was in police custody, a man named Shawn Hinton sent a text message to the device, reading, “Hey whats up dogg can you call me i need to talk to you.” Suspecting that Hinton was looking to buy drugs from Lee, Detective Kevin Sawyer replied to the message, posing as Lee. With a series of text messages, he arranged to meet Hinton in the parking lot of a local grocery store—where Hinton was arrested and charged with attempted possession of heroin. Continue reading

ACLU: Most police track phones’ locations without warrants – CNN.com

…. the American Civil Liberties Union shows that phone location tracking has also become a surprisingly common tool of law-enforcement investigations — with, but often without, a warrant.The ACLU recently obtained records from over 200 police departments and other law enforcement agencies around the U.S. They found that “virtually all” of these agencies track the location of cell phones with data supplied by wireless carriers… via ACLU: Most police track phones’ locations without warrants – CNN.com.

U.S. court approves warrantless searches of cell phones | Reuters

U.S. police can search a cell phone for its number without having a warrant, according to a federal appeals court ruling….The U.S. Court of Appeal for the 7th Circuit rejected that argument on Wednesday, finding that the invasion of privacy was so slight that the police’s actions did not violate the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches. Continue reading

Judges Challenge Phone Location Tracking – WSJ.com

” State and federal authorities follow the movements of thousands of Americans each year by secretly monitoring the location of their cellphones, often with little judicial oversight, in a practice facing legal challenges.Electronic tracking, used by police to investigate such crimes as drug dealing and murder, has become as routine as “looking for fingerprint evidence or DNA evidence… “

via Judges Challenge Phone Location Tracking – WSJ.com.

House Passes Freeze on Excessive Wireless Taxes | Digital Liberty

via Digital Liberty :: House Passes Freeze on Excessive Wireless Taxes.

The wireless industry has long been the victim of discriminatory taxation. In fact, state and local taxes have skyrocketed in recent years to an average of over 16%—much higher than the average state sales tax of 7.4% on other goods and services. In some cities, wireless taxes reach over 25%. All told, wireless taxes cost consumers $21 billion annually…..