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Judge: Cops Can Impersonate Owner Of Seized Cell Phones 213

Aryden writes with news of a recent court decision in which a judge ruled it was acceptable for police to impersonate the owner of a cell phone they had seized, in order to extract information from the owner's friends. The ruling stems from an incident in 2009 when police officers seized the iPhone of a suspected drug dealer, then used text messages to set up a meeting with another person seeking drugs. "'There is no long history and tradition of strict legislative protection of a text message sent to, displayed, and received from its intended destination, another person's iPhone,' Penoyar wrote in his decision. He pointed to a 1990 case in which the police seized a suspected drug dealer's pager as an example. The officers observed which phone numbers appeared on the pager, called those numbers back, and arranged fake drug purchases with the people on the other end of the line. A federal appeals court held that the pager owner's Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure were not violated because the pager is 'nothing more than a contemporary receptacle for telephone numbers,' akin to an address book. The court also held that someone who sends his phone number to a pager has no reasonable expectation of privacy because he can't be sure that the pager will be in the hands of its owner. Judge Penoyar said that the same reasoning applies to text messages sent to an iPhone. While text messages may be legally protected in transit, he argued that they lose privacy protections once they have been delivered to a target device in the hands of the police."

U.S. Confiscating Data at the Border 630

PizzaFace writes "U.S. Customs agents have long had broad authority to examine the things a person tries to bring into the country, to prevent the importation of contraband. The agents can conduct their searches without a warrant or probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. In recent years, Customs agents have begun using their authority to insist on copying data brought to the border on laptop computers, cell phones and other devices. The government claims that this intelligence-gathering by Customs is the same as looking in a suitcase. In response the EFF is filing a lawsuit attempting to force the government to reveal its policies on border searches. 'The question of whether border agents have a right to search electronic devices at all without suspicion of a crime is already under review in the federal courts. The lawsuit was inspired by some two dozen cases, 15 of which involved searches of cellphones, laptops, MP3 players and other electronics.'"

I have a theory that it's impossible to prove anything, but I can't prove it.