/. : Feds Have Access To Cellphone Tracking On Request

Daniel Kasak dan at entropy.homelinux.org
Mon Nov 26 02:11:39 CET 2007

On Mon, 2007-11-26 at 01:19 +0100, flexd wrote:

> If you just obey the law, when will they ever need to track you?

Ah. The old "if you don't have anything to be afraid of" argument. It's
pretty tired, but if you insist ...

1) The law is an ass. There's a big difference between breaking the law
and doing something wrong. Take prohibition, or abortion, or sedition,
etc. These are all areas where the law is contrary to most people's
values. For example, say I stand on a corner and proclaim that I support
the Iraqi resistance in their efforts to remove the illegal occupying
forces from their country. That's sedition. In my country ( Australia ),
that statement ( or this email ) is enough to get me locked up for 7
years for 'undermining the national interest'. With emerging cellphone
technology, not only can my mobile be used to locate me on the corner,
but it can also be used to record what I say and transmit it to the
police. Particularly with voice recognition technology, I can see the
situation approaching where just uttering the right words with your
phone in hearing distance will result in a quick visit from the police.
While our laws are so blatently stupid, it's quite unwise to hand more
power to police to persecute people from breaking said laws.

2) Even when you're NOT breaking the law, there are still quite valid
concerns about the all-seeing-eye. Cellphone tracking could easily be
used to identify myself and other activists at a public meeting. While
'guilt by association' has largely been written out of the lawbooks in
most countries, this doesn't stop police ( illegally, mind you ) keeping
a database of 'persons of interest' and their groupings. Anyone who has
attended a few anti-war demos will tell you that the police keep quite a
large file of known activists, who get targeted, arrested, dragged off,
beaten up, and dumped a couple of km away from the demo, pretty much
immediately after turning up ... 'known troublemakers'. There was quite
a bit of this happening in Canberra in 2003 when Dubya visited. It
happened again for the APEC demo here not so long ago. The problem is
that in a lot of cases, their definition of 'troublemakers' is not based
on whether they've broken any laws, but simply includes all known
activists. For example the list of 'excluded persons' from the APEC
designated area was basically just a list of leading activists who had
been working on the demonstrations - none of them had actually done
anything wrong, or even been accused of doing anything wrong. The list
was completely arbitrary.

3) The other side doesn't play by these rules. At the APEC demo, the
police attacked our debriefing meeting, snatched a couple of members,
and dragged them off. When we jumped up to stop them, they arrested
another round of us, claiming that we were 'obstructing a police
officer'. They then released the original group. This demonstrates that
they were actively soliciting a response from us, and using this
response to base their trumped-up charges on. There was a girl from
Actively Radical TV, who was doing a documentary on APEC. She was
filming our meeting. She got EVERYTHING that the police did on video.
When they realised this, they ordered her to hand the tape over. She
refused, and turned around and ran. They chased her, tackled her to the
ground, arrested her, and seized her video. She was the ONLY person they
held overnight ( everyone else they released within 6 hours ). They
never gave her tape back to her, as it had evidence against them. So
should we play ball with them, when they refuse to be accountable

There are people with things to hide, sure. But this is no reason to
hand our remaining rights over to anyone, and particularly not the


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