The Surveillance State: Cell phone Surveillance, Can They Hear You Now?


It’s safe to assume our readers fall into one of two groups: you know your cell phone tracks you constantly without your permission, or you’re unaware of the potentially serious privacy risks from the neat little device in your pocket. Being in the latter category doesn’t make you wrong — most people tend not to think about things that haven’t affected their lives yet, or dwell on dangers they believe are outside their control. However, when you’re in a particular line of work, the thoughts and ideas mentioned above constantly run through your mind. As writers in this industry, we often joke about being on government watch lists, but those jokes lose their humor when Big Brother may actually be watching.




The FBI’s War on Phones Is Bigger Than You Think


What a surprise, the Government Lied and are trying to access other phones not part of the investigation…I seem to remember Apple’s CEO warning about this, no? -SF

Apple’s lawyers revealed the feds want access to about a dozen devices after San Bernardino.

James Comey, the director of the FBI, has insisted that his agency’s ongoing conflict with Apple over a terrorist’s phone is just that: a conflict over one phone. In a letter posted to the Lawfare blog over the weekend, Comey called the legal issue at hand “quite narrow,” and said the FBI sought only “limited” help. Experts say the small scope of the FBI’s ask bolsters its case.

But in fact, the iPhone 5c that belonged to Syed Farook—one of the perpetrators of December’s mass shooting in San Bernadino, California—is only one of at least a dozen of Apple devices the FBI is seeking to access, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

In a letter addressed to a federal judge in New York, a lawyer for Apple said that federal law enforcement has recently requested that the company access information on 12 other iOS devices. The list is likely not a complete tally of the FBI’s requests, and does not include similar requests from state or local police.

The letter was sent last week, just one day after a federal judge in California asked Apple to help the FBI unlock Farook’s iPhone. It was filed under seal but was released on Tuesday.

The letter was submitted to a federal court in Brooklyn, where Apple and the FBI are facing off in a less dramatic version of the San Bernardino legal fight. In the Brooklyn case, the FBI is asking Apple to extract data from a locked iPhone with an outdated operating system. In San Bernardino, the FBI is asking Apple to modify the software in a newer iPhone in order to make it easier for agents to try to break in. Apple can technically fulfill both requests, but it has chosen to oppose them.

All 12 requests outlined in the letter were made under the All Writs Act, a 1789 law which has been used to compel a landline phone service provider to help the FBI conduct phone taps. But the judge in the Brooklyn case has expressed doubt that the same law would apply to locked iPhones.

Here’s why this all matters: These 12 pending requests—and probably many more that didn’t make the list—are a logjam waiting to break. If the federal judge in the San Bernardino case sides with the FBI, it would be much easier for the judges overseeing these other, similar cases to compel Apple to comply.

Apple maintains that this case is not, in fact, about just one phone; it’s about precedent. And if it can show that the government is using the San Bernardino case as a way to break through at least a dozen stalled cases elsewhere (even as the FBI claims that it’s not interested in setting a precedent), the judge might think twice before granting the FBI’s wishes.

Meanwhile, there are a whole lot more devices waiting in the wings, in the hands of state and local law enforcement. The Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. says he’s asked Apple to unlock a whopping 175 iPhones. If the government wins in San Bernardino, Vance told PBS’s Charlie Rose recently, he would “absolutely” try to get Apple to help get data off those devices, too.

It’s likely the government chose to take the San Bernardino case public, instead of one of the other pending cases, because it can make a very strong argument for needing to get into a terrorist’s iPhone. Comey wrote compellingly in his recent open letter that the FBI is duty-bound to pursue every lead in a national-security investigation. Here, Apple is forced to take a position that obstructs a crucial-seeming probe, in contrast to the other cases, which did not involve terrorism charges, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The FBI may be winning the public-relations battle it’s fighting with Apple alongside the ongoing legal conflicts. According to a poll that Pew Research conducted over the weekend, most Americans think Apple should honor the FBI’s request to unlock Farook’s iPhone. But now, Apple has a new arrow in its quiver: It can show that helping the FBI in California will have far-reaching consequences

Read the Original Article at Defense One

Where Americans Can Be Tracked Without A Warrant

Since the Paris attacks, there is a growing concern by DHS and the FBI that ISIS are able to communicate via “Dark Comms” or communications that are so highly encrypted they cannot tracked or monitored, common sense would tell you that authorities are going to start casting the “Surveillance” net wider to compensate, meaning more civilians will most likely start being monitored as a result. Stay Alert.-SF


Smartphones handle the jobs of many other objects: walkie-talkies, calculators, cameras. They pretend to be landlines and laptops and lightbulbs. They accomplish much of this multi-purposeness by tying into networks far vaster than any single device: into the GPS network, into the Internet, and into the cell network.

Many Americans don’t know that as they tote their phone around, some of those networks are watching. The cell network, specifically, creates a kind of record as a phone goes about its day. Every time a phone takes a call, exchanges a text, or uses an app to access the Internet, the cell provider takes notes, generating what’s called “cell site location information,” or CSLI. It records which cell tower was pinged by the phone, when that happened, and what direction its signal was coming from—and sometimes more information than that, too, depending on the newness of the phone and the tower.

Right now, in much of the U.S., law-enforcement agencies can access any CSLI from the past without getting a warrant. This is an extremely common practice: Between January and June 2015, Verizon said it received more than 20,000 of these police requests for location information nationwide. And in all of 2014, AT&T got more than 64,000 similar requests, or about 177 requests per day.

As I wrote in August, the legal status of CSLI is messy. There’s multiple kinds of CSLI, for one: Authorities often don’t need a warrant to see where your phone was yesterday (which is “historical CSLI”), but they do need one to find out where you phone is right now (a.k.a., “real-time CSLI”).

Read the Remainder at NextGov