How “cell tower dumps” caught the High Country Bandits—and why it matters
Fishing expeditions can pay dividends—but do they need a warrant?
by Nate Anderson – Aug 29 2013, 8:00am EDT
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Cell tower dumps don’t provide the precision of GPS tracking, of course, but they can in some cases provide directional and range information from a specific tower at a specific time—close enough to pin people within a few hundred yards. Because warrant applications often remain sealed, however, even judges rarely know how other judges have ruled on them; Owsley was reduced to asking judges he met at conferences whether they had encountered the issue, which is becoming increasingly common.
In the end, Owsley supports the use of tower dumps, so long as agents seek a warrant first and so long as they explain their plan to purge all numbers not germane to the current case. In addition, he argues that those whose records are swept up should be notified after the fact—especially because the records have a bad habit of ending up as evidence in court cases.
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A civil libertarian, like this little L libertarian, is always concerned when the Gooferment starts “fishing”.
In this particular case, I find no fault with what was done or the process.
Maybe they could work on doing it “faster”.
I have little sympathy for criminals. In this case with the facts given, the police seem to have done it “right”.
I’m not sure I understand the need to notify all the “discarded” numbers. Maybe some one can explain?
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