It's difficult to tell just where this falls on invasion-of-privacy continuum, but the Obama Administration claims that the warrantless tracking of cell phones-or at least cell phone whereabouts-is permitted because Americans enjoy "no reasonable expectation of privacy" when making or receiving calls on a cellular phone.This doesn't mean that the government will be listening to all or any of our conversations. However, according to CNET, Justice Department lawyers argue that if a phone company tells the government when and where a mobile-phone call was made or received, that would not violate a customer's Fourth Amendment rights. Predictably, civil liberties advocates are dismayed.
"This is a critical question for privacy in the 21st century," says Kevin Bankston, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who will be arguing on Friday. "If the courts do side with the government, that means that everywhere we go, in the real world and online, will be an open book to the government unprotected by the Fourth Amendment."Anyone who's seen The Wire can imagine how helpful this would be for cracking down on crime. Though if you have seen The Wire, you know that selfish bureaucrats are prone to corruption-the government and law enforcement having no shortage of selfish bureaucrats.