Because We’re Not Being Spied on Enough

The Justice Department has acknowledged constructing a database to track the movements of millions of vehicles across the U.S. in real time.

And

A Justice Department spokesman told Fox News that the tracking program is compliant with federal [law]… claiming it “includes protocols that limit who can access the database and all of the license plate information is deleted after 90 days.”

Privacy Misbehavior

Andrea Peterson of The Washington Post has a warning.

Recall that ‘way last November, Verizon was exposed as using a supercookie that they’d developed for the purpose: it sits on your cell phone and tracks, ostensibly for their own use, your cell usage (supposedly limited to your use on the Internet). And you can’t delete it.

It turns out that Turn, an online advertising company that works with Google and Facebook,

uses [the Verizon supercookie] to collect data that makes it easier for advertisers to place targeted online ads, according to the researchers.

Trust

First we have the NSA collecting personal telephone call data. Now we find out about this shadowy program, which was uncovered only because DEA had to give up its existence pursuant to a criminal case involving a man accused of planning the export of technology to Iran:

The Drug Enforcement Administration has formally acknowledged that it maintained a sweeping database of phone calls made from the United States to multiple foreign countries.

And

…the program relied on administrative subpoenas to collect records of calls….

Privacy and Government

…and government shoe-squeezing.

The No. 2 official at the Justice Department [Deputy Attorney General James Cole] delivered a blunt message last month to Apple Inc executives: new encryption technology that renders locked iPhones impervious to law enforcement would lead to tragedy. A child would die, he said, because police wouldn’t be able to scour a suspect’s phone, according to people who attended the meeting.

The naked panic-mongering is something we’d expect to get out of the press, but for a high-ranking government official to spout such nonsense is…unseemly. For Cole to masquerade his extreme outlier as the trend that must result, though, is dishonest. But it’s all good—DoJ must be able to snoop into Americans’ communications on DoJ’s own recognizance. Because, of course, no American administration would abuse its discretion.

Another Assault on Privacy

This time by a major cellular telephone company: Verizon.

…it has emerged that Verizon Wireless has been silently tracking around 100 million mobile customers using a supercookie that can’t be opted out of.

This is an especially nefarious invasion: the “cookie” lets Verizon track your movements on the Web—every page. And they then peddle that information to any advertiser willing to pay up.

Shaheen’s Complaint

Jeanne Shaheen is the Democratic Party (incumbent) candidate for Senator from New Hampshire.

Aside from the cheap smear in her interruption, it’s interesting that this Democrat doesn’t feel like she has to play by the same rules as us mere citizens.

In Which the IRS Gets Away with It

Judge Reggie Walton, of the DC District Court, dismissed all counts brought by the conservative non-profit, True the Vote, against the IRS for the IRS’ harassment of the organization when it tried to register as a 501(c)(3). The IRS had, on receiving that application

IRS was subjecting [True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht] to multiple rounds of abusive inquiries, with requests to provide every Facebook and Twitter entry I’d every posted, questions about my political aspirations, and demands to know the names of every group I’d ever made presentations to, the content of what I’d said, and where I intended to speak for the coming year.

A Number of Misunderstandings

Los Angeles passed an ordinance requiring hotel operators to give up data in their guest registers to the police, even when they don’t have a warrant.

The ordinance, approved by the city in 2006, requires hotels to collect and maintain guest information such as name and address, the number of people in the guest’s party, vehicle information, arrival and checkout dates, room number, and method of payment. Hotel operators who fail to comply with it face as many as six months behind bars and a $1,000 fine.

A motel operator demurred, and at this point, the 9th Circuit agrees: they struck the ordinance as unconstitutional under the 4th Amendment.

Even the Brits

This is an amazing development for the authors of the Magna Carta. That charter, recall, codified for the first time in Anglo-American history, limits to government’s (king’s at the time) right to intrude into a man’s private affairs and possessions except under some severely constrained conditions: due process of law.

This is that amazement:

Registered gun owners in the United Kingdom are now subject to unannounced visits to their homes under new guidance that allows police to inspect firearms storage without a warrant.

The new policy from the British Home Office went into effect Oct 15, permitting police and constabularies to conduct surprise home visits to legitimate gun owners.

In Which the Florida Supreme Court Gets One Right

Police in Florida aren’t allowed to use a cellphone to track someone’s movements according to a sweeping new ruling from the Florida Supreme Court.

The court by a 5-2 vote ruled Thursday that authorities in Broward County had no right to stop and arrest Shawn Tracey for possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine.

The police had a warrant to tap his cell phone calls, but that warrant didn’t include authorization to use his cell phone to track him.