Is Your Cell Phone an Asset of the NKVD?

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Recently by Eric Peters: The Ticking Time Bomb in Your Dashboard

You’ve no doubt heard about warrant-free wiretaps – and monitoring of your e-mails and web surfing habits. These things have been routinely and openly engaged in by “law enforcement” since the Chimponian Era, when the American Police State came into full flower.

You didn’t expect it to stop there, did you?

Of course, it has not stopped. It is expanding. Now your own gadgets are being used to monitor you. An article in The New York Times (see here) tells us all about it. Police are tapping into your sail fawn – which has a GPS transponder – to keep track of where you’ve been and where you’re going. The Times quotes a police training manual that describes sail fawns as the “virtual biographer of our daily activities.” All of which are now public record.

Isn’t that swell?

And guess who’s being Helpy Helperson? Why, your friendly sail fawn carrier. According to the Times article, the big name sail fawn service providers market a “catolog of ‘surveillance fees’ to police departments to determine a suspect’s location, trace phone calls and texts and to provide other services” too. These include something called “cloning” of a person’s sail fawn, which enables the authorities to download all texts messages stored on the person’s device without the person ever knowing it (much less a court knowing about it). According to the Times article, your sail fawn carrier has a “special law enforcement liaison team” that stands ready to help.

And it’s all being done without warrant or even the pretext of probable cause. And, best of all, with the eager cooperation of a (cough) private business – your sail fawn service provider – the one you’re paying. In other words, you are paying to be spied upon – a feat not even the Soviet NKVD ever achieved.

Equally sinister, cops can just grab your phone using almost any pretext (seatbelt scofflaw; jaywalking) and proceed to download its entire contents (see here). Your personal texts, e-mails, photos, social contacts – anything on that phone becomes evidence that can and will be used against you. Or just held/recorded – another form of data mining, to be kept for later use.

Again, this is being done without a warrant or probable cause (other than the fact that you’ve been detained by a cop for some other reason that, as such, has no bearing whatsoever on the contents of your sail fawn).

You don’t have anything to hide, do you?

Lawless law enforcement has of course always existed – the occasional planting of evidence, the back alley wood shampoo – but what’s different about now vs. then is that lawlessness has become general policy. In the past, the cops had to at least make a show of following the rules – and no matter how egregious their conduct, if such conduct was eventually exposed, there would be an amends-making. Some evidence of chagrin. Today, outright thuggery is the buzz-cut SOP of “law enforcement” – placed in quotes to emphasize that it increasingly enforces whatever laws it wishes – as it defines them.

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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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