U.S. Supreme Court says Police Need a Warrant for Historical Cell Location Records

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that law enforcement must first seek a warrant before obtaining historical cell phone location records from phone companies, upending a near-decade long practice by police.

The court ruled 5-4 on the case, in what became one of the most awaited privacy legal decisions in the US this year.

The so-called “Carpenter” case had centered on the eponymous Timothy Carpenter, a criminal who was caught thanks to cell phone records in 2011. Law enforcement had obtained his location data from a phone provider without a search warrant, arguing the provider already had his data and Carpenter had no “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

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Atom, World`s Smallest 4G Rugged Smartphone

NOTE: This article isn’t strictly about privacy. However, it is about a very small cell phone that should become popular and also works well with Zello, the privacy-oriented walkie-talkie app. Go to https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aprivacyblog.com+zello&t=h_&ia=web to see my previous articles about Zello.

A review in the Digital Trends web site says, “The Unihertz Atom won’t replace your smartphone, but it’s perfect for outdoors.”

While I haven’t yet had my hands on a Unihertz Atom cell phone, I suspect that description is accurate. It appears to be tiny, rugged, and resistant to water, mud, and all the other nasty stuff one finds in the great outdoors. I don’t think the Unihertz Atom is a good phone for everyone but it certainly will appeal to those who spend a lot of time outdoors, either for work or for pleasure or both.

One thing that appeals to me is the red push-to-talk button on the side of the Unihertz Atom phone. It works with the Zello push-to-talk walkie-talkie application, which is also pre-installed on the phone.

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Verizon To End Location Data Sales To Brokers

Verizon is pledging to stop sales through intermediaries of data that pinpoints the location of mobile phones to outside companies, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

From the report:

The data has allowed outside companies to pinpoint the location of wireless devices without their owners’ knowledge or consent. Verizon said that about 75 companies have been obtaining its customer data from two little-known California-based brokers that Verizon supplies directly — LocationSmart and Zumigo.

Though Verizon is the first major U.S. wireless carrier to end sales of such data to brokers that then provide it to others, Verizon did not say it was getting out of the business of selling location data.

You can read more in an Associated Press article by Frank Bajak at http://bit.ly/2JU4tEs.

Apple Watch gets Dick Tracy Walkie-Talkie Mode

You can be like Dick Tracy with a 2-way radio on your wrist! From an article by Megan Rose Dickey in the TechCrunch web site:

“At Apple’s annual developer conference today, the company showed off a new walkie-talkie feature for Apple Watch. The app is uniquely called Walkie-Talkie.”

“The first time you use it, you send a request to your friend, who can then accept or decline it. If they accept it, you can then walkie-talkie them at any time. This watch-to-watch connection works over cellular and Wi-Fi, and enables you to send short voice messages to friends and family with an Apple Watch. Once you press to talk, your friend will feel some haptic feedback and then hear your voice immediately.”

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LocationSmart Knows Where You Are at (Almost) All Times and is Being Investigated for Selling that Information

The FCC has opened an investigation into LocationSmart, a company that is buying your real-time location data from four of the largest U.S. cell phone carriers in the United States. The investigation comes a day after a security researcher from Carnegie Mellon University exposed a vulnerability on LocationSmart’s website.

It is bad enough that a company is selling your private information, namely real-time information showing where your cell phone is located. Even worse, a very elementary bug in the company’s website allowed anyone to see the information without even paying for it! Your personal information was exposed to hackers, Chinese spies, political organizations, collection agencies, and your ex-spouse. Then again, if you are cheating on your spouse, he or she might soon become your “ex” after learning where you are spending some time!

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Google Could Face $4.3 Billion Claim in U.K. iPhone Privacy Case

iPhone users suing Google over data-collection claims may be seeking as much as 3.2 billion pounds ($4.29 billion), the search giant said in a court filing.

The group representing iPhone users, known as Google You Owe Us, now includes 4.4 million people, according to documents filed with the court at a hearing Monday. The group says the Alphabet Inc. unit unlawfully collected people’s personal information by bypassing Apple Inc.’s iPhone default privacy settings.

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US Appeals Court Rules Border Agents Need Suspicion To Search Cellphones

Traditionally, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Border Patrol searches at the border didn’t require any suspicion on the theory that the government has a strong sovereign interest in regulating what enters and exits the country. But there is caselaw indicating that some border searches are so invasive that they do require some kind of suspicion. When the courts first applied the Fourth Amendment to border searches of computers, they held that searches of computers were ordinary searches that required no suspicion. As a result, border agents traditionally have been free to seize anyone’s cell phone and examine anything and everything stored within the phone with no reason required.

Now a new case before the Fourth Circuit has resulted in a ruling that at least some suspicion is required for a forensic search of a cell phone seized at the border.

Details may be found in an article by Orin Kerr in the Reason.com web site at http://reason.com/volokh/2018/05/09/important-fourth-circuit-ruling-on-cell.