AP: Police Got Phone Data From Brokers

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    AP: Police Got Phone Data From Brokers


    By TED BRIDIS and JOHN SOLOMON Associated Press Writers

    WASHINGTON (AP) - Numerous federal and local law enforcement agencies have bypassed subpoenas and warrants designed to protect civil liberties and gathered Americans' personal telephone records from private-sector data brokers.These brokers, many of whom advertise aggressively on the Internet, have gotten into customer accounts online, tricked phone companies into revealing information and even acknowledged that their practices violate laws, according to documents gathered by congressional investigators and provided to The Associated Press.
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    Now this is something to be pissed about. This ranks up there with profiling vehicles and running tags then finding something to pull them over for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayhawkk
    Rest of Story

    Now this is something to be pissed about. This ranks up there with profiling vehicles and running tags then finding something to pull them over for.
    I would only be concerned about the fact that the companies in question broke the law. If the information is public though and the cops just contract out someone to gather it, I don't see the problem.
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    Because it isn't public. these companies are using tactics to illegally get user informtion. Like posing as the user.
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    I agree they should be nailing the company that broke the law. by the way profiling cars will not stop. I hate it when it happens to me but 99% of the time they find someone with a warrant. it works.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB
    I would only be concerned about the fact that the companies in question broke the law. If the information is public though and the cops just contract out someone to gather it, I don't see the problem.
    The problem as I see it is that the government is contracting out for services that would be illegal if the government were to perform them themselves. An analogy would be if the police hired private investigators to search people's homes without warrants and then used whatever information was gathered to get warrants. This allows the bill of rights to be bypassed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeahright
    The problem as I see it is that the government is contracting out for services that would be illegal if the government were to perform them themselves. An analogy would be if the police hired private investigators to search people's homes without warrants and then used whatever information was gathered to get warrants. This allows the bill of rights to be bypassed.
    The government shouldn't have to go to any lengthy measures to get phone records, they should just be able to access it. I don't get the whole "government infringing on my privacy" bit concerning phones, maybe someone could enlighten me. Phones are NOT private, anyone could (and might) listen to your phone calls. For all you know, your neighbor may have tapped into your line, it's not hard to do, just a few clips and some earphones. Cell phone converstaions can be intercepted with scanners - nothing real sophisticated.

    I also don't get the whole idea of privacy in emails. There is no privacy in emails. Scores of people have access to an email at any given time before it goes to its destination. I have a friend in IT who loves reading outgoing/incoming emails for his company.

    Regardless, I never say or write anything that i wouldn't want to be in the public domain over any medium besides face to face conversation. Privacy is a right of every citizen in this country, but I do not believe it extends to methods of communication that leave our control. In the olds days, we communicated by letter. Now, we did not expect our letters to get ripped open and read before delivery. However, sometimes they got jammed in the machine and did get opened. Sometimes, the postman made a mistake and sent your letter to the wrong house, and maybe it got opened there. So, there was no real sense of privacy in the mail, why is there any privacy in our other methods of communication???
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    Because it's assumed when making phone calls the only people listening are the caller and the one called. If phone lines were completely open then that would be another story but they aren't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by joecski
    The government shouldn't have to go to any lengthy measures to get phone records, they should just be able to access it. I don't get the whole "government infringing on my privacy" bit concerning phones, maybe someone could enlighten me. Phones are NOT private, anyone could (and might) listen to your phone calls. For all you know, your neighbor may have tapped into your line, it's not hard to do, just a few clips and some earphones. Cell phone converstaions can be intercepted with scanners - nothing real sophisticated.

    I also don't get the whole idea of privacy in emails. There is no privacy in emails. Scores of people have access to an email at any given time before it goes to its destination. I have a friend in IT who loves reading outgoing/incoming emails for his company.

    Regardless, I never say or write anything that i wouldn't want to be in the public domain over any medium besides face to face conversation. Privacy is a right of every citizen in this country, but I do not believe it extends to methods of communication that leave our control. In the olds days, we communicated by letter. Now, we did not expect our letters to get ripped open and read before delivery. However, sometimes they got jammed in the machine and did get opened. Sometimes, the postman made a mistake and sent your letter to the wrong house, and maybe it got opened there. So, there was no real sense of privacy in the mail, why is there any privacy in our other methods of communication???
    Because the United States Constitution guarantees privacy in your communications (from government intrusion).

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


    One of the founding concepts of the United States is that the government serves the people, not the other way around. The rights of the citizen can only be infringed upon when there is a compelling government interest to do so.

    What this exactly means changes over time as the society changes but at this point in time, phone records are considered private unless the government has reason to see them. The check on executive power in this case rests with the judiciary. The executive branch must show the judiciary branch good cause to need the records, after which the judiciary will grant a search warrant.

    The problem with this program is that it allows the executive branch to bypass the checks and balances put into the Constitution by paying a private actor to do things that the government otherwise couldn't do.
    Last edited by yeahright; 06-21-2006 at 12:34 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayhawkk
    Because it's assumed when making phone calls the only people listening are the caller and the one called. If phone lines were completely open then that would be another story but they aren't.
    What he and YR said. Basically it's not something that's meant to be public, even though the public with minimal effort may gain access. Along the same lines it's not that hard to use IR technology which is pretty easily obtained to see into your home, but that doesn't mean you don't have an expectation of privacy there, especially regarding government intrusions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB
    What he and YR said. Basically it's not something that's meant to be public, even though the public with minimal effort may gain access. Along the same lines it's not that hard to use IR technology which is pretty easily obtained to see into your home, but that doesn't mean you don't have an expectation of privacy there, especially regarding government intrusions.
    I agree that in my home I have a right to expect privacy. Still, a phone transmission is leaving my home - leaving my control - and I don't expect it to be private.

    The fourth amendment states :"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects"

    To me, that means the police or other government agencies can not stop me without cause to pat me down, and they can not come into my house and search my papers, computers, or anything without a warrant or probable cause. I still do not get how this extands to telephone conversations or emails. I would like them to be private, but there is no way in reality that they are. Huge corporations have access to all this info, from your phone records, email activity, even the websites you visit. It's not private information, it is information you are giving away freely by using the services. If some tech at the phone company or low level IT person at my ISP can listen in on my conversations, they are not private and I have no right to expect privacy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by joecski
    The fourth amendment states :"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects"

    To me, that means the police or other government agencies can not stop me without cause to pat me down, and they can not come into my house and search my papers, computers, or anything without a warrant or probable cause. I still do not get how this extands to telephone conversations or emails.
    Antiquated language. Papers undoubtably meant/included letters back then, which my guess would be were included under the protection, though who knows about when they were in transit as I think there was a period of time where the post office could and would open mail at police or other LE request. Basically it's just been decided by the courts that you do have an expectation of privacy in your communications despite the fact that method of communication is getting beamed out of your general area for all with the know how to access.

    As far as the Fourth Ammendment goes it helps to think of it terms of property rights. The police cannot invade your property without a warrant. You pay the phone or internet company for the use of the phone line for a portion of time, or the use a certain amount of bandwidth or antena time, etc. You decide who you want to speak/email with, or invite into your privacy and these things are not inherently accessible to others, they need to work at getting access. As such during your use those things become through an act of exchange similar to rental property wherein you would and do have an expectation of privacy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by joecski
    I agree that in my home I have a right to expect privacy. Still, a phone transmission is leaving my home - leaving my control - and I don't expect it to be private.

    The fourth amendment states :"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects"

    To me, that means the police or other government agencies can not stop me without cause to pat me down, and they can not come into my house and search my papers, computers, or anything without a warrant or probable cause. I still do not get how this extands to telephone conversations or emails. I would like them to be private, but there is no way in reality that they are. Huge corporations have access to all this info, from your phone records, email activity, even the websites you visit. It's not private information, it is information you are giving away freely by using the services. If some tech at the phone company or low level IT person at my ISP can listen in on my conversations, they are not private and I have no right to expect privacy.
    Just because it can be done doesn't mean that you don't have an expectation of privacy. There are laws making what you describe a federal crime precisely because people have an expectation of privacy in their communications.
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    I guess it's just a difference of opinion then, since I believe there is no right to privacy when using the telephone. I think my opinion is based on the fact that, as a child, my father told me that someone mght be listening in on any phone conversations and never to say anything over the phone I didn't want everyone to know. Since I admired my father very much, and he was a police officer, I didn't doubt him at all. I never expected privacy on the phone and don't see why it is an issue. I don't care what corporations or government agencies are listening to my calls or tracking the phone numbers I dial.
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    Quote Originally Posted by joecski
    I guess it's just a difference of opinion then, since I believe there is no right to privacy when using the telephone. I think my opinion is based on the fact that, as a child, my father told me that someone mght be listening in on any phone conversations and never to say anything over the phone I didn't want everyone to know. Since I admired my father very much, and he was a police officer, I didn't doubt him at all. I never expected privacy on the phone and don't see why it is an issue. I don't care what corporations or government agencies are listening to my calls or tracking the phone numbers I dial.
    Fair enough. Our society recognizes the expectation of privacy but individuals don't have to.

    18 USC 2511.
    Interception and disclosure of wire, oral, or electronic communications prohibited


    (1) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this chapter any person who--

    (a) intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept, any wire, oral, or electronic communication;

    4)(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection or in subsection (5), whoever violates subsection (1) of this section shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
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