No Warrant? No Problem

Earlier this month, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled all law enforcement officers in that state must get a search warrant based on probable cause if they want access to cellphone locating data. Earlier this year, both Maine and Montana passed legislation requiring authorities to obtain a search warrant to get location information from a person's cellphone. Crump said she believes this issue will probably have to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. "This question is one of crucial significance to every American that carries a cellphone," she said.
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Federal agencies have largely kept quiet about these capabilities, but court documents and interviews with people involved in the programs provide new details about the hacking tools, including spyware delivered to computers and phones through email or Web linkstechniques more commonly associated with attacks by criminals. [....] The FBI develops some hacking tools internally and purchases others from the private sector. With such technology, the bureau can remotely activate the microphones in phones running Google Inc.'s Android software to record conversations, one former U.S. official said. It can do the same to microphones in laptops without the user knowing, the person said. The report also notes things like using a computer's camera to take photos -- though, in the one case where this tactic was requested, the judge nixed the request, worried that it might lead to the collection of info on innocent people. There's also this wonderful line: The bureau has controls to ensure only "relevant data" are scooped up, the person said. A screening team goes through all of the data pulled from the hack to determine what is relevant, then hands off that material to the case team and stops working on the case. Considering how we've already seen the feds redefine "relevant," that seems kind of laughable. Of course, if you're a computer hacker, you might be safe: The bureau typically uses hacking in cases involving organized crime, child pornography or counterterrorism, a former U.S. official said.
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