In the wake of the Court of Appeals decision which ruled that surveillance on wireless service such as a cell phones and other mobile devices required a warrant, specifically in cases where law enforcement agencies were using a phone tracker with cell tower pings, there now seems to be even more to the story.
The Obama administration is advising local law enforcement agencies to keep everything on the hush hush regarding their surveillance equipment. Specifically, the administration has asked that details surrounding the functionality of the equipment remain “unknown” to the public. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the new technology is fairly unknown and with that unknown comes the uncertainty of whether or not it violates some Constitutional rights. (You know, that pesky 4th amendment.)
“These extreme secrecy efforts are in relation to very controversial, local government surveillance practices using highly invasive technology,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement to the Associated Press. “If public participation means anything, people should have the facts about what the government is doing to them.” The ACLU is currently fighting for the release of such documents and has spearheaded efforts to put pressure on Congress to rein in unconstitutional surveillance practices.
What many may find even more disturbing is the idea that the producers of such surveillance equipment designed this technology with secrecy clauses in regards to the FEC and have required local agencies to operate the equipment in cooperation with the FBI.
Is your tin foil hat buzzing just a little at this point?!
The FBI states that information cannot be shared because if it were, ‘they’ would no longer be able to “protect” us from terrorism. Yes. They really said that. Some states, such as Florida, have tried to trump the federal silencing through loose open-records laws, however, the U.S. Marshal’s Service confiscated the obtained documents.
So, to sum up…not only do we not know why or where such devices are being used, we don’t even know how the equipment that has been designed secretly and specifically to infringe upon our rights operates. We don’t know how much this equipment costs, we don’t know who all has them nor do we know with whom they are sharing information. And now we have an administration instructing local law enforcement agencies to “keep it that way”.
Are you worried yet?