Are We Becoming an Orwellian Police State?

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Mass data collection by the US Government was exposed years ago through the heroic whistle blowing efforts of American Fugitive Edward Snowden. Ever since his shocking revelations were made public, congressional efforts have commenced to limit the amount of information that the government has access to readily.

Interestingly enough, the latest threat to the integrity of our personal and business data security may not from any intelligence or law enforcement agency but from competitors and private citizens who may have a bone to pick with you or your business. A civil case can be filed with the plaintiff being given extensive subpoena power to request discovery. Whether or not your computer and mobile info is considered off limits may wind up being the decision of the Judge or Jury assigned to the case. An important court case headed to the Supreme Court may set some new groundbreaking precedent.

The case I’m referring to, U.S. v. Carpenter, involves men accused of armed robberies at Radio Shacks and T-Mobile stores near Detroit. The case may open the floodgates for civil litigation on cases related to corporate espionage, where mass headhunting (The Acquisition of Competitors Employees) in an effort to mimic the success of an already sustainable business model may have occurred.

Timothy Carpenter, who is the at the center of this case, was near the scene of the robberies at Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores according to police who used past “cell site location information” from his cellphone carrier that tracked which local cellphone towers relayed his calls

The digital data that law enforcement agencies can obtain from wireless carriers can show which local cellphone towers users connect to when they make calls. Cops use historical data to determine if a suspect was in the area of a crime scene or real-time data to track a suspect.

The Supreme Court ruled twice in recent years on major cases concerning how criminal law applies to new tech. On each occasion they ruled against the law enforcement community. In 2012, the court held that a warrant is required to be able to place a GPS tracking device on a car or vehicle. In 2014, the court said police need a warrant to search a cellphone that is taken during an arrest or investigation.

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies make hundreds of thousands of record requests every year to major service providers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. They use a 1986 federal law called the Stored Communications Act, which says the government only needs to show the records are relevant to an investigation. Had they been required to get a warrant, they’d need to show probable cause that a crime had been committed.

With our data already readily available to sophisticated hackers, is the government ready to potentially facilitate our enemies in cases related to business related squabbles and other civil matters? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

 

 

 

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