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Comment: Re:Just stupid (Score 1) 208

by meta-monkey (#49634823) Attached to: Police Can Obtain Cellphone Location Records Without a Warrant

First, with regards to the rental house thing, that's a complete non-sequitur. You have the same right against unreasonable search there you do at your own home, in a hotel room, or any place you stay overnight. For the purpose of the fourth amendment protection against unreasonable search of your home, anywhere you're sleeping that night becomes "home."

"Without your participation it wouldn't come into existence" also doesn't work, because that would preclude any evidence of anything you've ever done, ever.

I think there's several points of confusion here, having to do with 1) the reasonableness of the 3rd party doctrine and 2) a confusion over the different nature, not just standard of evidence, of a subpoena and a warrant.

First, understand "privacy" is not and cannot ever be an absolute right in a functioning society. You are the armed robber who put a gun in my face and swore you'd kill me if I didn't hand over the $47 in my boss's cash drawer and now I can't sleep and don't feel safe anywhere I go. I want you behind bars, and society wants you behind bars so you can't do that to anyone else, but due process of law demands evidence to convict you. That evidence must be collected. Which means, privacy (yours and perhaps others) must be invaded in order for justice to be served. But, we want to guard against abuse of the power to invade your privacy, so we have safeguards against unreasonable search and seizure. The goal of which is to minimize and hopefully eliminate invasions of privacy. The less invasive of your privacy the collection of the evidence is, the lower the standard of evidence needed for the collection.

There is a much, much lower standard of evidence required for a subpoena than a warrant, and with good reason. A subpoena is an order to YOU to comply with the court. You are ordered to produce specific materials, or present yourself or your testimony, to the court. You are ordered to do so by an officer of the court. Different states have different procedures of course, but in general, you can be subpoenaed by a judge, by a clerk of the court, by a lawyer (defense or prosecution). If you're defending yourself you can get blank subpoenas from the clerk of the court. You can compel the ice cream shop across town to produce the video footage of you buying ice cream at the time of the robbery, exonerating you, even though the shop owner doesn't want to because he hates whatever color your skin is. But in the interests of justice, no, the court (and society) demands he do it anyway.

But the nice thing about subpoenas is you can contest them before producing anything. You can stop harm to your privacy from being done at all! You can say "what you're asking for doesn't exist" and provide reasonable explanations. You can say "what you're asking for is irrelevant to the matter before the court." You can say "no, I won't produce this because it is too invasive of my privacy."

That last part's kind of important. Because the subject of the subpoena (in 3rd party cases like this one) is the one whose information is being seized, not the person suspected of the crime. Let's say you buy a pencil from me, and I issue you a receipt. That receipt is your transaction record. I also keep a ledger wherein I record that you purchased a pencil from me. That is my transaction record. Do you have any rights to my record? No. I can post it on the internet. k4tt bought a pencil here. There's nothing you can do about it. It's my record. And you can do the same. "I bought a pencil from meta-monkey and here's the proof!" and I have no authority to stop you from doing so with your record of our transaction.

When you stab somebody in the face with that pencil and the court asks me if I have a record of the purchase of that pencil, I have absolutely no obligation to you to not turn over my receipt of the sale. None. It's my record. But, turning it over is an invasion of MY privacy, not yours. You never had any privacy rights to my record of our transaction at all. Now, first, I would gladly hand over the record, because what the fuck you're stabbing people in the face with pencils. And if I said no, it's reasonable for society to compel me to turn over that one record. It's a very minor invasion of my privacy in the interests of justice. Now if they wanted ALL my records, of people for whom no evidence of pencil-stabbing exists, that's a different story. And if they did that, I'd contest that part of the subpoena as irrelevant to the matter before the court (whether or not YOU stabbed somebody with a pencil) and far too invasive.

So that's kind of nice. The court asks me nicely (but firmly) for a specific thing of mine, that's relevant to a specific matter before the court, allows me time to produce it in a manner that minimizes any invasion of my privacy and doesn't disclose the pencil-purchasing habits of my other customers.

Now let's talk about warrants. Yes, there's a higher standard of evidence required for the issuance of a warrant. And that's because while a subpoena compels ME to cooperate with the officers of the court, a warrant ORDERS officers of the law to DO whatever the warrant says, fuck anything I do or say. It orders them to do things that would otherwise be illegal (force their way onto my property, subdue me, go through my shit) and grants them immunity from punishment for the otherwise illegal actions. When a warrant is issued to search my pencil store for the record of your purchase, fuck me. It's not like "asking but WE REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME." There is no "compliance." They might knock on the door, but it doesn't matter if I "let them in" or not. They're coming in, they will remove me from the premises while they conduct their search, they will go through my receipt drawer, they will look at all my receipts and those of all my other customers until they find the one (the one of your purchase) that they're looking for. In the meantime, they see all my shit, and lots of stuff about all my other customers. And that's not a new "oh no police state!" thing. That's how warrants have always worked.

What's required for the SCA, though, is a court order signed by a judge who's been presented with articulable facts about the commission of a specific crime by a specific person and he finds reasonable cause. So a warrant is a court order signed by a judge, but so is a subpoena signed by a judge. And that's specifically to address the fact that people don't want phone records being casually perused. And, there are criminal penalties for supplying such records to any government entity without the signed order. So phone records are already protected more than other records, like the pencil receipt.

By your line of thought, its reasonble for law enforccement to search any and all objects which you have not sole ownership over. Think creditcards, library cards, banking accounts, utility bills, facebook activity, rental cars, rental homes.

Without a search warrant?

Of course they should have to have a search warrant in order to search those things! My god man! It is completely ridiculous to think police could just barge into FaceBook data centers or the library and start rifling through stuff without a search warrant! On what planet? No, there is nothing I've said that in any way indicates that's okay. How on earth do you get that?

No, if they want those things by force they need a warrant. If they want them produced for them, they need subpoenas, to compel the record owners to comply with a reasonable court order, which they can challenge. And in the case of communication records (like FaceBook, or email), they need an order signed by a judge. And in all cases it needs to be relevant to a matter before the court. There is no blanket surveillance or fishing expeditions going on here. Just regular due process of law.

Which is what I want the fucking NSA to do. You think I'm a terrorist? Fine. Convince a judge there's reasonable cause to search just my shit for commission of a specific crime. But to just go collecting everything, all the time, from everybody is monstrously insane.

Back to this case, I absolutely, absolutely do not want courts issuing warrants when a subpoena will do, and I don't know why you do. A warrant is completely excessive when being asked to hand over a specific piece of evidence relevant to a specific crime committed by a specific third party. Is that what you want? No subpoenas? Only warrants? The government should have forced their way into the phone company, seized their records and searched through EVERYBODY'S stuff until they found the records for the suspect here?

Isn't it far more reasonable to issue a subpoena for just the specific information relevant to the case, after it had been demonstrated to a judge that it would be reasonable to do so? And the phone company is then able to sanitize the data, to expose only the bits that are reasonable and relevant to the specific matter before the court?

There's definitely enough evidence in this case to meet the standards of evidence for a warrant.

Option A: Subpoena signed by a judge. "You are ordered to produce these specific items unless you can tell us a good reason why not."

Option B: Warrant. "Fuck your shit, we are taking your stuff and searching it until we find these specific things."

Why do you prefer B?

Comment: Re:Just stupid (Score 1) 208

by meta-monkey (#49631917) Attached to: Police Can Obtain Cellphone Location Records Without a Warrant

So you suggest we should allow law enforcement to track cellphones without a warrant because its obvious the guy was a criminal?


They didn't track him. They didn't track anybody. What about what I said makes you think I'd be okay with cops just tracking cell phones?

I don't think you understand what happened in this case, and what a court order is. The cops didn't actually do anything, or track anyone. They got a court order for the phone company to hand over specific, limited billing data for one guy for whom reasonable cause had been demonstrated to a federal judge. That's how the whole system is supposed to work.

They can't just barge in to the phone company and seize their records. Is that what you think is going to happen? A judge always has to review it. That's a requirement of the SCA (the Stored Communications Act). And if the judge does a shitty job, the defense attorney challenges the validity of the order. Oh, and the SCA precludes phone companies from voluntarily handing over this call data. An order MUST be obtained from an impartial magistrate.

  This is a higher standard than other business records already. Your bank records can be subpoenaed by a clerk of the court (and challenged by the bank if the bank things they aren't relevant to anything the court is doing). That requires no judge.

And a warrant would be worse, because warrants authorize the cops to do the searching, rather than the trust the holder of the evidence to hand it over. So instead of a court order compelling the phone company to hand over specific documents (meaning they can take care to limit disclosure to only the things the court needs) you've got the cops coming in to the phone company and rummaging through everybody's stuff until they find what they want. Again, with a judge's approval.

The meat of this case is that the defense argued that the cell location data constitutes a search of the defendant, rather than an order to produce to the phone company (for their records...remember, "your phone records" are not your phone records. They're the records of the operation of the phone business). But the judge said "no, that's bull because you're using a cell phone, which everybody knows has to connect to a cell tower, of which there's surely a record."

The 4th amendment protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. Not all search and seizure. If that were the case, there would be no warrants. What about this particular order to procure records do you find unreasonable?

Comment: Re:Just stupid (Score 1) 208

by meta-monkey (#49631421) Attached to: Police Can Obtain Cellphone Location Records Without a Warrant

They got a court order. A warrant would be worse. Then the cops would be going to the phone company and conducting a search. Meaning they'd see lots and lots of other stuff. A court order telling the phone company to produce only the info they wanted is far less invasive for the suspect, the phone company, and everybody else.

They will always still have to have the court order. A warrant is just one type of court order. What else do you think they're going to do?

Comment: Re:I for one welcome our truck driving overlords (Score 1) 206

by meta-monkey (#49629771) Attached to: Self-Driving Big Rigs Become a Reality

No, I think they would happen simultaneously. If I were the engineer designing the automated navigation system, I would consider this problem and specify the system only operate on well-mapped roads and would talk to the map provider to get details on how accurate and recent their maps are. Perhaps cross match them to other available mapping data. Then I would preclude the system from operating on roads with data integrity below a certain threshold.

I would inform the navigation data provider of this, and the purchaser of the vehicle. Then there'd be a /. article about how "9% Of Mapping Data Unusable For Autonomous Driving." And the crowd would get all rabid about how ridiculous and unsafe and nefarious this all is, and people would rabblerabblerabble and the companies that provide mapping data would produce the better data they'd already been working on anyway because they're not complete morons.

Comment: Re:This seems batshit crazy. (Score 1) 208

by meta-monkey (#49629697) Attached to: Police Can Obtain Cellphone Location Records Without a Warrant

I don't think you understand what happened in this case. They weren't just randomly tracking phones. The prosecutor got a court order from a federal magistrate for the phone records of the suspect (and only the suspect). The evidence presented to the judge to argue there was reasonable cause to get the records included eyewitness testimony, statements from the suspect's accomplices, surveillance footage of the armed robberies, and DNA evidence from the getaway car. The records were limited to the suspect's calls only, for the two month window the robberies were underway, and included only phone number, incoming/outgoing, date/time/duration, and the location of the cell tower the phone was connected to during the call. No call content, no text message content, no keep-alive packets or other tracking information for time the phone was on but not making/receiving a call.

I'm pretty sure that's exactly how the framers wanted it. You're protected from unreasonable searches and seizures, but this all seems pretty reasonable to me. Specific person. Specific information. Articulable facts. Sworn statements. Judge's order. Limited scope.

What do you think is the problem? Was there not enough evidence presented to argue reasonable cause? Was the information not relevant to a legitimate investigation? Was the scope of the request too large? I'm genuinely curious.

Comment: Re:Just stupid (Score 4, Informative) 208

by meta-monkey (#49629585) Attached to: Police Can Obtain Cellphone Location Records Without a Warrant

I read the decision. Go read the first few pages (linked in TFS). It makes perfect sense to me.

What do you think happened here? The cops didn't just go mining some random guy's cell signal.

They already had tons of evidence against the guy. Eyewitness testimony. Camera footage of the armed robberies (someone matching his description). DNA evidence collected from the getaway car. The government presented this to a federal magistrate who said it constitutes reasonable grounds for the government to seize the phone records that are relevant and material to the case.

And the only data they got was, for the specific two month period the armed robberies were underway, this one person's call records, limited to phone number, data/time/duration, incoming or outgoing, and the cell tower location. No call contents. No text message contents. No keep-alive packets or other location tracking data when the phone was powered but not making or receiving a call. No GPS data. Just enough to say "we know the suspect was in this mile and a half radius making a phone call near the time of the robbery."

So what do you think is the problem?

Were there not reasonable grounds to authorize the order? Not enough evidence? Were the phone records not relevant to the case? Do you think too much information was seized?

I'm genuinely curious as to where you think the government overreach occurred in this case, or if you just think the government should never be able to seize or search anything for any reason.

Comment: Re:Which is why we disguise cell towers (Score 1) 208

by meta-monkey (#49629447) Attached to: Police Can Obtain Cellphone Location Records Without a Warrant

This was not (necessarily) voluntary. The court order required the phone company to hand over the data, and the company complied.

But for the life of me I can't see any reason why they wouldn't or shouldn't. The court order was authorized by a federal magistrate who was presented with specific and arguable facts (eyewitness testimony, DNA evidence, surveillance camera footage during the armed robberies, more) that clearly show reasonable grounds to believe the company's business records would be "relevant and material" to the government's case. And they only got records of calls made (phone number, time/date/duration, cell tower location) during the specific 2 month window when the robberies were underway. No call content, no text message data, no keep-alive packets or other location data when the phone was on but not making calls.

What's the problem? Blanket surveillance of everybody all the time for all their records, is bullshit. But this is...exactly how the system is supposed to and needs to work. Specific person. Specific information. Specific facts. Reasonable grounds. Judge's order. And they got a violent dirtbag who shot at people and threatened many more with guns while robbing them of their stuff. Justice served. Well done, prosecutor.

Comment: Re:Which is why we disguise cell towers (Score 1) 208

by meta-monkey (#49629347) Attached to: Police Can Obtain Cellphone Location Records Without a Warrant

In this case the prosecutor got a court order to compel the phone company to turn over the call record.

I don't really see the problem here.

1) They already had a case built against the defendant. Eye witnesses who placed him at the scene of the robberies. Surveillance footage of someone who matched his description conducting the robberies. DNA evidence collected from the getaway car. Statements from accomplices. The cell records are just supporting documents, showing that not only was somebody who looked like him in the area, but he was actually in the area, too.

2) The government applied to a federal magistrate for the court order. They presented specific and arguable facts (see part 1), showing reasonable grounds to believe the phone company's business records were "relevant and material" to the investigation. I don't really see how anyone can disagree with it.

3) The data asked for and provided was specific to the investigation. It was data only for the two-month time period during which the robberies were underway. They provided:

a) Phone numbers for calls to and from the suspect's phone.
b) Whether the call was incoming or outgoing.
c) Date, time, duration of call.
d) The location of the cell tower to which the phone was connected at the time.

The records did NOT show:

a) Contents of calls.
b) Any text message data/details.
c) Any location information for when the phone was powered on but not making or receiving calls. So, no keep-alive packets or anything. No GPS or real-time data.

What the NSA does, blanket surveillance of everyone, all the time, with no probable cause, storing everything forever, that's bullshit. But this case...I for the life of me cannot see the problem. This is exactly how the system is supposed to work. The fourth amendment protects from unreasonable search and seizure. How is this in any way unreasonable?

And with regards to the "but it's my records" thing. It's not. They didn't get the suspect's records. They got the phone company's records of their dealings with the suspect. You sell me a pencil and write down "meta-monkey bought a pencil from me on May 6, 2015" and hand a me a receipt. You now have a record of the purchase, and I have a record of the purchase. If I later stab someone in the face with that pencil and the police come to you and ask for a record of the're not giving them my receipt. You're giving them your ledger entry. That's your record. Not mine.

Comment: Re:Some secrecy is necessary to permit negotiation (Score 4, Insightful) 160

by meta-monkey (#49628793) Attached to: Extreme Secrecy Eroding Support For Trans-Pacific Partnership

Yeah, I'm fine with secret negotiations. I don't see how you could negotiate effectively if every offer and counteroffer were broadcast to the world.

However, congressional representatives should not be subject to that level of obfuscation. I want my representative to be able to oversee what's going on to make sure the general direction is in my best interests (I know, I know, corps, plebes, money, don't care about you, blah blah blah, I'm talking about the way the system should work, not the way it does).

And I don't like the rumblings I've been hearing about "fast tracking" TPP. I don't know how true that is, I've only seen it in passing.

Negotiate in secret, fine. But let my representatives review the process. And once the negotiations are done, publish the full draft of the agreement and allow a lengthy, lengthy time for the public and lawmakers to deliberate over the provisions.

Comment: Re:The Curve on Academic Courses (Score 1) 410

by meta-monkey (#49620735) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

It's critical, too. When you learn the low-level stuff, you develop a more intuitive sense of algorithms. Or you understand why "equality" becomes a contextual problem when dealing with reference objects. And dealing with character buffers and malloc calls in C gives you a better insight into why strings are immutable in Java, Python, .NET, others.

But when you've never had to think about how the code is represented at a lower level, well that's when you get the somebody writing horror shows like:

public static class Logger
        string log;

        public void AddToLog(string newEntry)
                log = log + newEntry;

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?