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"Once you walk into a courtroom, you've already lost. The best way to win is to avoid it at all costs, because the justice system is anything but" Sydney Carton, Attorney. "There is no one in the criminal justice system who believes that system works well. Or if they are, they are for courts that are an embarrassment to the ideals of justice. The law of real people doesn't work" Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law Professor.



Monday, December 2, 2013

Police spying on innocent cell phone users using 'tower dump' technique


Across the country, local law enforcement agencies are using an investigative technique called a tower dump to access data on cell phone towers, even of people who are not related to a specific investigation.

In 2011 across the country, two top providers AT&T and Verizon filled more than half a million requests for your data through court ordered dumps and other emergency requests.
 
“Am I surprised this is happening? Certainly,” said Jay Bender, a First Amendment attorney who represents WLTX.  “To turn everybody’s telephone data to the police unrelated to any suspicion of crime, I think it’s an unreasonable search and seizure.  I don’t think that’s permitted by the Constitution.”
 
When your cell information ends up in a police database, it could stay there a long time.  South Carolina evidence control laws say if a suspect is convicted or pleads guilty, police could keep everything they get from a Tower Dump for up to seven years.
 
Law enforcement don’t have to tell you if they’ve got what was on your phone.
 
Currently, there’s little legal guidance on how Tower Dumps should be used and what rules law enforcement should follow.

In South Carolina the Richland County Sheriff's Department used a tower dump during the investigation into a string of car breakins, where weapons and computers were stolen.  They combined the Tower Dump information with DNA evidence and in 2011 arrested Phillip Tate on three counts of "breaking and entering a motor vehicle" and one count of "larceny."
 
"He did break and enter into both of those vehicles, one of them being the vehicle of Sheriff Lott.  It was parked at his house," said Fifth Circuit Solicitor Joanna McDuffy in court.  "It was his sheriff department issued vehicle.  Weapons were taken from that vehicle your honor."
 
Search warrants we found say Richland Sheriff's investigators requested dumps on two cell phone towers during their investigation. 
 
The dump gave investigators information on every cell phone connected to those towers during the requested time, even if they were not related to the crime.
 
"So for example if you have a smart phone and you're checking your email, that would cause some communication between your cell phone and one or more cell towers," said Christopher Sogohian, a principal technologist for the ACLU. 
 
He says a connection would also be made if you're texting, tweeting, on Facebook, on SnapChat, or just making a regular phone call.
 
"The police can then go back to the phone company and ask for identifying information," Sogohian said.
 
As long as police have a search warrant or court order, cell phone companies will provide the information.
 
"Inform us," Pounds said.  "Or at least those couple of hundred or couple of thousand people, innocent people, inform them that hey we acquired your information for this particular crime.  We're going to purge the data and get rid of it."
  
In 2011 across the country, two top providers AT&T and Verizon filled more than half a million requests for your data through court ordered dumps and other emergency requests.
 
"Am I surprised this is happening? Certainly," said Jay Bender, a First Amendment
attorney who represents WLTX.  "To turn everybody's telephone data to the police unrelated to any suspicion of crime, I think it's an unreasonable search and seizure.  I don't think that's permitted by the Constitution."
 
When your cell information ends up in a police database, it could stay there a long time.  South Carolina evidence control laws say if a suspect is convicted or pleads guilty, police could keep everything they get from a Tower Dump for up to seven years.
 
"What we recognize is that could not just be hundreds, but thousands of people," Pounds said.
 
Law enforcement don't have to tell you if they've got what was on your phone.
http://www.wltx.com/news/onyourside/article/257093/325/Tower-Dumps-in-SC-Could-Give-Your-Cell-Data-to-Police-
http://appalachianareanews.com/sc-cellphone-tower-dumps-indiscriminately-giving-your-data-to-local-police-2-5m-requests-in-2011/
http://cops2point0.com/2011/07/why-how-add-mapping-your-cell-phone-evidence/
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/04/documents-show-cops-making-up-the-rules-on-mobile-surveillance/
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/08/how-cell-tower-dumps-caught-the-high-country-bandits-and-why-it-matters/

mSpy app lets you track a partner's movements, listen in on calls and even lock their phones

The mSpy app works on select smartphones including Apple, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone and can be used to gain access to an unprecedented level of personal information.
 
It records phone calls, tracks a person’s location, lets users remotely read texts, Skype, Facebook and Viber messages, view browsing history and even see how much battery the phone has left.

mSpy’s website the app is designed for 'monitoring your children, employees or others on a smartphone or mobile device’.
 
However, it adds the person doing the spying must own the device being tracked, or the person being tracked must give their permission.
 
mSpy users can use the app to view videos and photos stored on a device, see the phone owner's list of applications and software updates, open their calendar, notes and tasks, and even get hold of the phone’s unique IMEI number.
 
They can additionally remotely lock or wipe a device, block websites and calls from certain contacts as well as record the person’s surroundings.
 
People wanting to use the app do need to physically install it onto the phone they wish to track, and once installed mSpy promises the app is 100 per cent undetectable.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2514892/mSpy-app-lets-people-spy-partners-calls-texts-track-them.html

The spware that enables mobile-phone snooping:

The technology involved is called cellular interception. The active variety of this, the “IMSI catcher,” is a portable device that masquerades as a mobile phone tower. Any phone within range (a mile for a low-grade IMSI catcher; as much as 100 miles for a passive interception device with a very large antenna, such as those used in India) automatically checks to see if the device is a tower operated by its carrier, and the false “tower” indicates that it is. It then logs the phone’s International Mobile Subscriber Identity number -- and begins listening in on its calls, texts and data communications. No assistance from any wireless carrier is needed; the phone has been tricked.
 
Because the security hole that allows for this snooping is associated with 2G mobile networks, any 2G phone can be fooled by an IMSI catcher. To bring in newer phones, corporate spies and other criminals can easily jam nearby 3G, 4G and long-term evolution, or LTE, networks so that phones associated with them “think” they have to fall back on 2G networks. All phones, no matter how modern, continue to work in 2G mode, because carriers are reluctant to make the investments required to move up from 2G networks nationwide.

Law enforcement and national security operations. It can be used to detect the phones that are in a given place at a given time or are entering the protective bubble around a public official, for example. They can also locate a specific phone being carried by a suspect, even when it isn’t being used. Also, the devices can listen in on calls, which is beneficial for almost any kind of operation.

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