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  • Editorial: Department of Justice Says "Location Tracking Not So Bad"



    Today at the same hearing where Senator Al Franken and others blasted Apple and Google about the storing of location data and the subsequent violations of user privacy, a Department of Justice representative had this to say:

    "When this information is not stored, it may be impossible for law enforcement to collect essential evidence,"

    - Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein

    Really DOJ? This of course isn't a shock. The DOJ in January told congress that wireless and internet service providers should be required to store user data for two years. Weinstein provided congress with another gem during a hearing on mandatory data retention:

    "In many cases, these records are the only available evidence that allows us to investigate who committed crimes on the Internet. They may be the only way to learn, for example, that a certain Internet address was used by a particular human being to engage in or facilitate a criminal offense."

    I briefly comment on the DOJ and the industry surrounding the extracting of personal information for investigators last month when the Locationgate candal broke. Companies and individuals make their livings by creating programs that extract data you don't want others to see. It is a legitimate business, but a scary one. We live under the illusion that the right to privacy is laid out in the constitution. It is not.

    The Supreme Court has laid out an implied right to privacy in a number of its rulings over the last fifty years (Roe vs Wade, Stanley vs Georgia), and many will argue that it is inherent in a number of amendments in the Bill of Rights (3rd, 4th, and 5th). But, it is important to know there is know specific right to privacy laid out in the constitutions. This is the argument thrown around by originalists (people who believe in the sole word of the constitution. Think religious fundamentalists, what is in the Bible is what goes).

    It is encouraging that Congress is keen on maintaining and upholding these assumed rights to privacy laid out in previous rulings by the Supreme Court and the Bill of Rights. What is disconcerting is there are arms of our government and private sector that are actively engaged in circumventing these assumed rights and its legal. When Locationgate broke it was a shock to a number of us, and to others they could care less. To others though, it was old hat, common knowledge, something they had known about for months. But, these same people that knew about it for months, like Alex Levinson, said nothing about it. Why? Because he works for Katana Forensics and helped develop their iOS forensic software Lantern 2.0. Easy access to location data means a better product for their customers.

    For $700 you can purchase Lantern 2.0 from Katana Forensics and get a program capable of the following:
    • Supports the iPhone 4 and the new iPad 2
    • Supports all generations of the iPhone including the AT&T and Verizon iPhone 4
    • Supports all generations of the iPod Touch
    • Support for iOS 2.2 to 4.3.1
    • Passcode bypass with certificate file from syncing computer
    • Bypass Encryption on 3.0 devices and with known password
    • Recover Deleted SMS
    • Read Gmail & Yahoo Email
    • Parse SKYPE Calls & Messages
    • Parse Facebook Data
    • Cellular Sites & Wi-Fi Location Geo Data
    • Wi-Fi Connections History
    • Improved Internet History
    • Geo Locate Videos & Photos
    • Application Usage Data
    • Analysis from .dd Images & Backups
    • Data Carving Images & Videos
    • Timeline Analysis
    • Bookmarking
    • View Data while Processing Acquisition
    • Physical Image Email Analysis
    • Document Analysis

    I'm not condemning Levinson and their business, they provide a service to law enforcement officials, corporate investigative teams, and others but, the fact this data is so easily available is condemnable. If someone can write a program, useable by you and me, to procure our most intimate information, then something is wrong.

    If the recent digital attacks on Sony didn't convince you (it has been two weeks and PSN is still down), hopefully this will open your eyes to how truly vulnerable our private information is. If the largest corporations in the world can have their secure servers compromised and have information stolen from them, the reality is nothing is really secure. Your location data, your genius playlists, your Facebook stalking habits are available to those who care enough to look. We trust these corporations keep our information private, but if they can't protect themselves, who can protects us?

    Source: PC World
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Editorial: Department of Justice Says "Location Tracking Not So Bad" started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. hancoma's Avatar
      hancoma -
      It would be nice to have one of the following if the police scan your phone with the Lantern program:
      1. A program that would disable usb interface when connected.
      2. Secondary program that would provide a payload of same size, etc that is full of useless data.
    1. Phillip Swanson's Avatar
      Phillip Swanson -
      Quote Originally Posted by KartRacer View Post
      Yes it is. It's called the 4th Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution. I suggest you go read it, brush up on your reading comprehension, and them have an epiphany that your are completely and utterly wrong.



      Again, no only are you completely wrong, you insult those that actually understand what the Amendments you are referring to. The 3rd Amendment has to do with quartering of troops during wartime. This has no bearing on the discussion at hand and I don't understand why you would mention it otter than you don't know what's in it. The 4th Amendment has everything to do with privacy. No one has the legal right, nor the moral obligation or duty to decide they have a reason to root through your stuff. Be it on your person, in your house, or in your car. You fail yet again to comprehend the text and meaning of te Amendment. The 5th Amendment is used to prevent someone from getting you to admit to something that might not be true. Be it they threaten you with jail time, ruination of your life, or pressure you into admitting guilt to take a lesser sentence. See GeoHot's case here recently. Had Sony been given the opportunity to try and use him as a witness against himself they could have easily threatened him with a many number of this, mainly repeated court time that would have ruined him financially since they could have bought a number of sympathetic judges to try him in many states for different charges. This is what that is specifically written to protect a person from.

      In Stanley vs Georgia the Supreme Court overturned the ruling against Stanley on other grounds, but they also violated his 4th Amendment rights by seizing property that wasn't pertinent to the search being conducted. That's illegal. Justice Marshall ruled that private property, that they illegally seized, could not be considered obscene and wiped all state laws against it off the books citing 1st and 14th Amendment rights. Three other Justices agreed on those grounds and another ruling violation of 4th Amendment rights violations.

      You need to do your research better.



      Why, the United States Constitution of course. But since you obviously don't know what it written in it, nor why it was written and the protections it holds, you would ask such a question. I think you need to actually research a topic before you make such bold and factually incorrect statements and then insult those that do know what you are talking about. Everything you've written above is factually incorrect.
      I'm glad you've tried to argue a few points, albeit misinformed ones. I stand by my first statement that there is no constitutional amendment or article that specifically acknowledges a right to privacy. In fact the word "Privacy" is never even printed in the entirety of the document. I'm sure you know this, because you've read it.

      The 4th amendment that you flaunt as an amazing piece of protective legislature only protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizure by the state. Your argument for privacy isn't laid out in the constitution, but rather in rulings by the Supreme Court which lay out a "Reasonable Expectation of Privacy." A search and seizure, MADE BY THE STATE, may not be conducted in violation of this expectation. Your comment "No one has the legal right, nor the moral obligation or duty to decide they have a reason to root through your stuff. Be it on your person, in your house, or in your car" fails to realize this amendment only applies to the state. For civil infractions against privacy we'd have to enact "Tort" law, otherwise known as a wrong that is a breach of civil duty owed to someone else. Tort Law is not criminal law. You do not go to jail for violating tort law, you pay damages. Although it could be said an individual is stealing your things then that would be criminal, or perhaps they breaking and entering your "digital" home.

      Back to your prized fourth amendment. There are a number of Supreme Court Rulings that vastly limit your rights as a citizen. The "Stop and Frisk" ruling of Terry vs. Ohio is one of them. This gives police officers the right to frisk or search an individual with less than probable cause. All the officer needs to do is reasonably believe that "criminal activity is afoot." You can see how this is open for a wide range of interpretations.

      Probable cause is another common law term that is essentially a law of interpretation. It is up for the Judge to decide if the arresting or searching officer had probable cause to do so. In Carrol vs US (1925) the Supreme court ruled that probable cause was a flexible common sense standard that required less evidence than would justify condemnation. It also says that the based on the facts available to the officer it would “warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief" that certain items maybe contraband or evidence of a crime. There is no demand that such a belief be more true than false or correct for that matter.

      There are also the plain view and consent rulings, the latter of which officers will use to trick individuals into allowing them into their homes without warrants etc. It's just a matter of knowing how to skirt around the law. Many don't do it, but the ability for it to be defendable in court can allow for individuals not privy of their rights to be taken advantage of.

      Also, something noteworthy, in 2003 a Bush administration official in a memo stated "our Office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations." Hooray.

      Still, the fourth amendment does us a great service protecting us from the possibility of a brutally invasive ruling police state. Tort privacy laws are what most people traditionally associate with privacy. They include:
      • Intrusion of solitude: physical or electronic intrusion into one's private quarters.
      • Public disclosure of private facts: the dissemination of truthful private information which a reasonable person would find objectionable
      • False light: the publication of facts which place a person in a false light, even though the facts themselves may not be defamatory.
      • Appropriation: the unauthorized use of a person's name or likeness to obtain some benefits.

      Still, the biggest hole in the fourth amendment and privacy law in general is that those writing these laws and applying them have very little knowledge of the digital world and its implications. Case in point, last year in March the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled in Rehberg v. Paulk, that an individual has no expectation of privacy in an e-mail as soon as a copy of the communication is copied and delivered to a third party. Then the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in United States v. Warshak in December 2010 that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his emails and that the United States was in violation of his fourth amendment rights by ordering his ISP to hand over copies of his emails.

      Also, the third amendment protects the privacy of your home by not allowing soldiers to occupy it, and the fifth amendment prevents your privately held knowledge and thoughts from incriminating yourself.

      Of course this is just a brief breakdown of modern privacy law. The legal system tends to move at a snails pace when adapting to advancements in technology. I'm sure as todays youth gain prominent political and judicial positions privacy laws will evolve to be more protective and applicable in a digital age.
    1. starfuryt550's Avatar
      starfuryt550 -
      The posts in here are very informative! Keep it up!
    1. quidam_brujah's Avatar
      quidam_brujah -
      I would argue the the 9th and 10th amendments cover your privacy concerns: the government doesn't get any powers not granted by the Constitution (they have no power to invade your privacy unless they have evidence you have committed a crime), and the people have so many rights that they are too numerous to list, privacy being one of them.

      It's up to The People to challenge a law as being unConstitutional. If Congress makes a law saying that service providers are required to collect and hold this info for a given time, it would need to be challenged in the right way for it to be struck down.
    1. LGgeek's Avatar
      LGgeek -
      "When this information is not stored, it may be impossible for law enforcement to collect essential evidence,"

      oh ya like all the drug dealers and criminal types are using a smart phone to conduct their business, we have idiots running the government.
    1. Phillip Swanson's Avatar
      Phillip Swanson -
      Quote Originally Posted by quidam_brujah View Post
      I would argue the the 9th and 10th amendments cover your privacy concerns: the government doesn't get any powers not granted by the Constitution (they have no power to invade your privacy unless they have evidence you have committed a crime), and the people have so many rights that they are too numerous to list, privacy being one of them.

      It's up to The People to challenge a law as being unConstitutional. If Congress makes a law saying that service providers are required to collect and hold this info for a given time, it would need to be challenged in the right way for it to be struck down.
      I intended to and completely forgot to mention the ninth amendment.. Thank you for mentioning that. The rights of the people are indeed to numerous to list outright and the ninth amendment was a much needed addition to our constitution.
    1. jwil736's Avatar
      jwil736 -
      Quote Originally Posted by dsg View Post
      Edit: if their allowed my location information, I want to know there location from their iDevice or Android device, and we should be allowed to have it under the freedom of Information act
      Nah, they are jailbroken and using trackerd lol.

      Quote Originally Posted by KartRacer View Post
      Why, the United States Constitution of course. But since you obviously don't know what it written in it, nor why it was written and the protections it holds, you would ask such a question. I think you need to actually research a topic before you make such bold and factually incorrect statements and then insult those that do know what you are talking about. Everything you've written above is factually incorrect.
      Uhhh... We DO trust these large corporations to keep our information private, how is that factually incorrect? "They cannot protect themselves". How is that factually incorrect? Yes, legal action can be taken but that is if they know who did it... Dont be such a jackass.
    1. quidam_brujah's Avatar
      quidam_brujah -
      Quote Originally Posted by LGgeek View Post
      "When this information is not stored, it may be impossible for law enforcement to collect essential evidence,"

      oh ya like all the drug dealers and criminal types are using a smart phone to conduct their business, we have idiots running the government.
      My beef with that quote is this idea that a creator of a product that has a feature that law enforcement is keen on has some obligation to the government with regard to that feature.

      Example: imagine that Shoe Corp makes a shoe that becomes wildly popular, however it leaves noticeable tracks. They announce they will come out with a new shoe, and a fix for existing owners, that will not leave tracks. Law enforcement then says, "When this information is not stored, it may be impossible for law enforcement to collect essential evidence.". Which means it will take longer to collect evidence and sloppy police work is less likely to easy convictions. They can subpoena video recordings in the vicinity of a crimes scene, but the government can't require everyone to install recording devices and maintain the data as long as they see fit just in case there may be a crime sometime in the future.

      Ridiculous.
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      I'm not going to pick apart your post because you obviously aren't reading what I'm saying. You keep going on and on about how you have no right to privacy and then present arguments that have precedent of a crime that's been comitted or about to be committed. I will challenge one statement and make a final one of my own.

      No man/woman has any right to touch me, enter my home, or touch my belongings without my explicit permission. There is legal protections for this outside of criminal proceedings or investigation which is not the issue, and which you fail to see the difference between them completely.

      Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Swanson View Post
      Still, the 4th Amendment does us a great service protecting us from the possibility of a brutally invasive ruling police state.
      Yet you continue to argue it doesn't give you the right to privacy and protection from this exact treatment. Have you any clue what you are saying? Have you even watched the police brutality and corruption increase drastically in this country over the last 30 years? You are continuously arguing very strongly you have no right to privacy, and then say the 4th Amendment is there to protect the people in this country from " a brutally invasive ruling police state." Notice your own words include "invasive". Isn't that synonmus with 'invasion of privacy'? I sure believe that cops or other authority figures thinking they can stop me and interrupt my day or enter my home as an invasion of my privacy. I don't understand how you can be wrong, provide examples that you are, and then contradict yourself in the very last statement. Protection from committing criminal actions and defense against police action citing the 4th Amendment are not invasions of privacy, and nowhere have I said that it does.

      You do have a right to privacy, it's implied and given in the 4th Amendment in the US Constitution. You do have the right that states no one can enter your home or violate your person without a justifiable reason, it's implied and given in the 4th Amendment in the US Constitution. You just can't comprehend what it says, where it applies, and make up and down of what protections it offers you. I have no further reason to debate this with you because it's about a useful as banging my head against the wall. It's even worse to see someone who argues so strongly against a right they have and they don't even know what it means and how it protects them. Criminal investigations and proceedings are NOT what the 4th Amendment was written to protect you from, it was written to protect your home and person from illegal invasions. Try and educate yourself on the US Constitution outside of sound bites and lame attacks on those that do understand its' words and what they mean, you seriously need it
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      Philip,

      I rest my case. You are wrong.

      http://bit.ly/kPitVE
    1. The Man of Sand's Avatar
      The Man of Sand -
      Quote Originally Posted by KartRacer View Post
      Philip,

      I rest my case. You are wrong.

      http://bit.ly/kPitVE

      lol nice choice of words!

      Sent from my iPod touch using ModMyi