FBI Can Use Your Mobile Phone Mic To Spy On You

from the that's-a-change dept

Almost exactly three years ago, a judge ruled that the FBI could not spy on people using the microphones installed in their cars in telematics systems such as OnStar. However, it appears that another judge feels so differently about that type of surveillance, that the FBI can now go much, much further. Declan McCullough has a writeup describing how a judge has ruled it legal for the FBI to use mobile phones as “roving bugs.” While the ruling doesn’t make it clear exactly what this means, apparently, many believe that the FBI can make use of the microphones within mobile phones to remotely spy on anyone with (or near) a mobile phone. Whether or not that’s actually the case, it certainly sounds like this particular judge finds it perfectly legal. If that actually works, it certainly opens up a huge can of worms about your privacy in the presence of a mobile phone — which for many of us is just about all the time these days. Perhaps the FBI won’t be so worried about getting phone tapping access to things like VoIP programs when it can just tune into anyone it wants to via their mobile phones. While the FBI obviously needs to get a warrant to first approve such a tap, it certainly seems like the ease of such a solution will be quite a temptation for misuse. In the meantime, how long until we hear about someone hacking their way in to let them do this outside of the FBI?

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Comments on “FBI Can Use Your Mobile Phone Mic To Spy On You”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Old tech

This is old technology. It used to be called an “Infinity Phone” – a way to “bug” a room with a normal phone. One calls the phone, it answers by itself without ringing and then the caller can listen in on what the phone can hear.

I think the bad guys know by now – if you’re going to do bad stuff, unplug the phone/take the battery out of the cell phone.

Griff (profile) says:

Just because they can...

Lets assume such a “mike tap” was done with a court order and full cooperation of the telco in question.
It’s not certain to me whether any current phone handset could actually permit / support such activity.
But maybe they’d just “push” a software upgrade silently out to the “target” if the tapping was authorised ?
I’m pretty sure that the US Govt could not mandate (even to US manufacturers) that such a capability be built in to all new models.
And they certainly couldn’t make (say) Nokia do it.
Which means Nokia could soon grab US market share just by trumpeting their “civil liberty” phone range….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Just because they can...

I’m pretty sure that the US Govt could not mandate (even to US manufacturers) that such a capability be built in to all new models.

Sure they could. And they could claim “national security” to make it illegal for anyone to reveal it. No problem.

And they certainly couldn’t make (say) Nokia do it.

Again, sure they could, although maybe only for phones sold or used in the US.

Which means Nokia could soon grab US market share just by trumpeting their “civil liberty” phone range…

I doubt Nokia executives would violate US national security laws.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

it may not be needed to be added to new phones it may very well work on some phone systems and on some phone models… and all that would be needed i beleive in most cases to grant such capability is a simple firmware/software upgrade with the majority of the new phones that have been sold in the past year or so…

Roger says:

You won’t even know it… The software used runs onto the background of your mobile OS and accepts preprogrammed number silently. After it accepts it turns on speaker phone function while muting speakers. As soon as you tried to use the phone the program shuts itself down and won’t even be detected.

All it is needed is for a person or agency to install the software either through upload or direct installation. And given the commonality of mobile OS and delivery system I assume it will be easy to find ways to install these without you knowing. Oh and that is without involving using mobile viruses, I wonder how hard it would be to create one that once infected directs the phone to download such a program…

Me says:

Re: Hmmm...

Yea, that happens to me, the battery wont last a day without dieing. WHATS UP WITH THE GOVERNMENT SPYING ON US, hey remember reading 1984 in school and thinking the United States will NEVER come to that. Well your wrong, YOUR ALL WRONG HAHAHAHAHA. And if you don’t know what I am talking about, read 1984 by George Orwell. Awesome book

Lurking in the Back says:

What will they hear

I’d be happy to let them test it out on my phone. i can just imagine the look on their faces when they hear “clunk……eeeeerrrrr..cha-chink…zipppp… brrraaaaaappppppp….Ahhhhh!” as I let loose with the 1:30 express this afternoon.

Seriously, the chances of the gov’t getting mixed up and listening to you instead of Mohammed al-Nutjob are pretty low to start with, and even if they do, what are they going to hear? Admittedly, my keyboard is pretty loud, but the sound of a picked nose is minimal, and since I’m not a terrorist, my personal conversations would pretty much bore them half out of their mind.

I stopped worrying about my government after 9/11 and started worrying about the people that they are watching. To those who will reply that our government was behind 9/11, I say, get a real life, quit reading fantasy literature (a.k.a. conspiracy theories) and read a bit about what radical islamofascists believe and want to accomplish. Distrusting our government is exactly what they want you to do. They want to kill us all.

DZmodelman says:


i used this very technology to catch my girlfriend cheating on me. i even hacked into her phonebook to get his number and now i’m using the ‘locate’ feature on his phone to hunt him down. i’m just waiting for him to have a chat like “oh, i’m going to be at ‘balducci’s’ tonight” so that i can rain down hellfire & brimstone with my boys and some of our little friends.

damn – she never moaned like that for me…

The infamous Joe says:

Bring it, FBI!

If they want to spy on me, they really need a hobby.

If this catches badguys, I’m all for it. If you’re not for it.. maybe you’re hiding something. hmm? 🙂 I’m all for privacy, but no one worries about “how long until we hear about someone hacking their way in to let them do this outside of the FBI” with standard phone taps.. what makes this any different (or scarier).

As for Mr. DZmodelman, without knowing any details I’m willing to say that I might have an inkling of an idea of why she’s ready to move on without you. 😉

Anonymous, Indepenent and Proud says:

Re: Re: Re: Fucking Bullshit Inventors

Thats because the government is so f**ked up that people are worried about using their freedom of speech. Many believe that things like the patriot act labels any one a terrorist that simply disagrees with the pigs in office. So it shouldnt amuse you and shouldnt surprise you that in a police state, the people are scared to use their right of free speech. And that should scare all of you more then the government. Because once you lose your belief in the constitution you are no longer american, just like the terrorists in office and the terrorists over seas. Unwarranted Phone tapping is unethical unconstitutional and a complete invasion of privacy. You can’t enforce the hammer of law on people when you have tyranical rulers, misinformed angry mothers and over religous nutjobs that encourage punishment for victimless crime like staying out late and smoking a joint. The phone tapping BS has nothing to do with catching terrroists in america, it has to do with catching you using a swear word when that becomes illegal. Charles said it right in regards to the sheep. And those of you that choose to be sheep, you selfish people will have your kids pay for it, because it probably “wont happen in my life time”. Assholes.

Uh Oh says:

If this can be done…. I suppose all of us here are now further identified just by posting….. 😉

You know what? The guy… or is it a woman….. in Post 11 says it best…. STOP WORRYING ABOUT OUR GOV’T….. worry about those that are out to kill us…..

The Gov’t has no time or inclination to “spy” on just regular people…. if you think they are…. you and your paranoid schizophrenic other self should get a life…..

Server~Monkey says:

Why do you care?

Just out of curiosity, why do all of you people care so much? Are you scared they will hear your coveted cookie recipe, or learn that your slightly incompetent in your driving? C’mon, seriously, why in the world would you care if they listened in on your phone? If they catch one person who was about to do something bad, and they heard 20 hours of my babble, I would feel it was worth it. At some point people have to realize that the cost of security is your privacy. The less privacy you are willing to give up, the less security the government can provide. While there is and always will be a cut-off as to how much of my privacy I will let them have in trade for my personal security… them tapping my cell-phone for the occasional laugh at the crap i go through from day to day isn’t that limit.

Thomas Jefferson says:

Re: Why do you care?

Thomas Jefferson speak plaining about this:

“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny”

“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.”

“Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”

“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

And my all time favorite:

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

This is precisely why it matters. I don’t want to lose liberty. Liberty is neither free nor pain-free. There will always be sacrifices in order to obtain or maintain liberty. I am willing to lose my life to give liberty to others.

Although the movie was not great, I was chilled at “V for Vendetta” simply because I saw great parallels between the tyranical government portrayed in the movie and the type of government to which the US is devolving.

Business Man says:

Re: Why do you care?

The problem is not FBI hunting the bad guys but somebody else (like your competition) listening tou your private meetings/discussions! Is not about cookie recipes, is about business information. Or just imagine your boss listening to your comments on your way back to home: “That a**hole asked me to work again … etc”!

Pam Oh says:

Re: Why do you care?

I believe you miss the point… which is, why do you think that when you say “enough”, they will care… or listen? When it hits that point, it is already too entrenched and it will already be too late.

Our forefathers were very intelligent men, that is why they separated and limited police powers. This isn’t a new situation, it’s the same old situation over and over again… abuse of power. It has to be controlled.

“They” would be bored out of their minds if they listened to me, too… but I don’t WANT them listening. There’s no reason, no cause, and they have no right. I am free. Not pseudonomously free, but actually free. So far.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why do you care?

Why do I care?

First, basic privacy. I should not have to take the battery out of my phone to avoid being listened to. Even if in the long run it does not matter whether there are hidden microphones in my house, I should not have to put up with such things.

Second, battery life. If the FBI is using my phone to spy, it’s going to make the phone drain quicker. This will cost me actual money, for electricity to recharge the phone, and to have to buy a new battery sooner. I may buy a new phone or switch carriers (and have to sign up for a long-term contract) to attempt to find a phone that holds a charge longer. Worse, my battery might die in a life-threatening (or just inconvenient) situation. They aren’t going to pay for any of these costs they incur on me. They likely aren’t even going to apologize to my family if a dead phone battery directly causes my death.

Third, you can’t say for sure that the government will always be as benevolent as it is now. (Or if not “the government” in general, the FBI in particular. Remember J Edgar Hoover, not all that long ago.) Think of places like Iran or China. Do you think that the government being able to listen to anyone at any time is a GOOD thing? Hey, maybe they can use those phones to arrest those pesky Christians trying to secretly worship in their homes, or those people planning a peaceful protest. Even if you think the USA could never go bad, you make it hard to protest when those countries use the same questionable tactics that we are using.

Fourth, if the phones are built so the government can do it, what’s to stop some random person from doing it? If you put an exploit into a phone for the FBI to use, it will eventually be found and exploited by bad people. Imagine burglars that know when you are away and when you are about to come home, because they can listen to you in real time.

“While there is and always will be a cut-off as to how much of my privacy I will let them have in trade for my personal security… them tapping my cell-phone for the occasional laugh at the crap i go through from day to day isn’t that limit.”

A 24/7 live audio feed of you isn’t the limit? That’s way, way, WAY past MY limit.

charlie potatoes says:

while you morons are wiping your ass on the Constitution let me explain something…once they take away our first right the rest will follow quickly, you bunch of sheep. next we won’t be allowed to criticize the government because it might give comfort to our enemies? god damn.. you need to crawl back in your silk lined cocoons and go back to sleep…what a bunch of misinformed jack asses. you’re out of your depth on this one. does winston smith ring a bell? no? i figured…. fucking simplistic boobs. now make some smug asinine remarks…geez your stupidity is amazing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, not really. It’s all over the UK news about how the new anti-terror laws are spiralling out of control and being used in a manner that you sheep didn’t ever envisage. Like allowing the US government to extradite Brits who may or may not have committed a crime on British soil, primarily againt British companies, merely because there is ***some*** link to the US.

Besides the “if you have nothing to hide argument” is also a fallacy and a very, very stupid one at that.

Anonymous Coward says:

In response to Server Monkey and others.

“Those who are willing to trade essential liberties for security lose both and deserve neither.” Benjamin Franklin

Politicians care about power, you stupid fuckwits. The nature of government is that if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.

Government during WWI: “Oh, just let us pass this income tax. It’s just temporary. It’ll go away after the war is over. We promise.” Well, guess what? WWI as been over for almost 90 years now, and *gasp* *shock* the income tax is still with us.

The government has no interest in spying on it’s own people, huh? Maybe you all need to look at some of the files that the FBI collected on US citizens under J. Edger Hoover. Maybe you need to read up on a little program called ‘Operation TIPS’, an American Stasi designed to recruit mail carriers, cable guys, and any one else who enters your home, and have them report what books you have on your shelves and other ‘suspicious’ activities. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_TIPS

Yeah. If you HONESTLY believe that the government is some cuddly little altruistic bunny that has no interest on spying on people, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Uh Oh says:

US Contitution

The government, FBI, State Police, CIA, NSA, who ever….. if they are following the laws in place, they are not “taking away any of our rights”…..

Our Constitution allows electronic Searches and Seizures. The 4th amendment protects us against searches without a warrant. The 14th amendment applies this to the states.

The government follows these rules and the court rulings in place that interpret these rules. Are there occasional abuses? Sadly yes. These abuses are handled properly through the Judicial System.

We as citizens are not abdicating any rights. The government already has the ability to search our property, electronic or otherwise following the rules in place.

The government is not some inhuman entity out to “get” us all…..

I you truly believe that “they” are…. feel free to move to another nation. If you stay here, I hope that the terrorists, the White Supremacy groups, The Jamaican Drug gangs….. the “real problem causers….” harm you, not those of us who want our government to protect us, every way they can, under the Constitution

On a related issue, the writer above who comments on “Operation Tips”, is not fully informed. By the way, you do realize, don’t you, that after Dick Armey spoke out against this program, for the ACLU, that he left Congress and was, hired by the ACLU for big bucks….. Hmmmm….. Do I smell a payoff??

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: US Contitution

The government, FBI, State Police, CIA, NSA, who ever….. if they are following the laws in place, they are not “taking away any of our rights”…

Especially if one denies the existence of certain “rights” in the first place.

Our Constitution allows electronic Searches and Seizures.

The US constitution makes no such distinction. The word “electronic” is nowhere in it. To imply otherwise is disingenuous.

feel free to move to another nation.

You first, the sooner the better. China may be more to your liking.

everything's criminal (user link) says:

so you have nothing to hide?

Places where oral sex is illegal: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia and Washington D.C.

Until consentual crimes amongst adults are off the books, I will not submit to having my phone tapped by feds or the cops.

Furthermore, let us recall that:

The active ingredient in marijuana may stall decline from Alzheimer’s disease, research suggests.


Marijuana’s active ingredient may form the basis for new antiviral drugs that fight cancer-causing viruses.

I find it interesting that articles like those come out and are generally swept under the rug by mainstream outlets, which consequently adore donating time to hyping local marijuana busts. Evidently, you only deserve medicine you can purchase from Glaxo. (Welcome) All offenders should be taken out in the street and executed (thanks, G. Gordon).

It’s all part of the new freedom. Go’s great with this:

Google: FBI admits no hard evidence

Anonymous Guy says:

Light-up cell antennas

What about the fact that, if a phone is going to ‘spy’ on someone, it has to transmit data? Easy way to ID when it is transmitting would be to install one of those light-up cell antennas, and then you know when it is listening.

Unless they force US manuf. to install a smaller, internal antenna just for the FBI.

Rational Thought says:

Privacy matters

“The government” is not some benign and/or benevolent organism. It is made up of people with emotions and biases just like everyone else on this planet. “The goverment” has lost my trust with the misuse of powers throughout history. Slavery, Native Americans’ slaughter, WWII incarcerations, School of the Americas, Racial Segregation (just to name a few) were all either sponsored or supported by the then prevalant “governments”. The justification has always been some form of “national security.” How many laws does the current “government” have to break (then try to make retroactive changes to laws to cover their butts), for you to realize that absolute power DOES corrupt? Just as I do not want my neighbor listening in on my private conversations, I do not want “the government” to be privy to the same. It is especially difficult for me to give up this privacy due to the very fact that I am NOT doing anything illegal. Our forefathers left Europe and fought a deadly war to rid ourselves of the very oppressive and invasive form of “government” that we now are so willing to allow. The “government” is supposed to be a civil service full of civiil servants ensuring the protection of our civil rights, not imperials taking away our civil rights. I really dont care if the technology exists for the “government” to use my cellular microphone, just the fact that they have been ILLEGALLY wiretapping millions of American citizens is enough for me to be hostile to any news of more invasion to my privacy. Benjamin Franklin wrote: “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security.” I will object to invasion of privacy as long as I have a heartbeat.

Anonymous Coward says:

i used this very technology to catch my girlfriend cheating on me. i even hacked into her phonebook to get his number and now i’m using the ‘locate’ feature on his phone to hunt him down. i’m just waiting for him to have a chat like “oh, i’m going to be at ‘balducci’s’ tonight” so that i can rain down hellfire & brimstone with my boys and some of our little friends.

damn – she never moaned like that for me…


backroads says:

The attitude of the majority is very sad for Ameri

As a Canadian, the one thing i always admired about Americans was their attutue towards freedom. The quotes from Ben F. in half the messages in the link pretty much summed it up. It’s sad to see that at the first sign of trouble the majority of Americans seem willing to give up on a couple of hundred years of freedoms that so many died to preserve. I’m sure more people die in car accidents in a short period of time then have ever died of terrorisim in the US. No big push to give up cars though!. Or even to spend a bit to make them safer (ever wonder why Nascar can run cars into walls at 200 mph while your Chevy hits someones bumper at 30 and kills them?)

It’s about priorities – those that willingly give up freedom to feel more secure need to reexamine thiers.

Lurking in the Back says:


Perhaps I can clarify for Uh oh (#18) that I really don’t worry about our government. The only time I did was when Clinton was president, and I have come to appreciate the lack of logic in my errant belief.

Charlie Potatoes makes a really strong case, if a strong case is built on the effective use of profanity and ad hominem attacks. I get what you’re saying – that you disagree with others – but when I look at it closely, you make no sense. If we lose a little freedom, all is lost? I understand a “slipperly slope”, but possessing a technology that requires a judge’s approval hardy places us on that slope. The checks and balances seem to work. In fact, I’ll bet you’ll find that similar fears have existed at pretty much any time in our nation’s history.

Technology often requires a reassessment of how they impact personal freedom. We’ll find the right balance. You can sleep soundly. Trust me on this.

shimon says:

silent callback

worked a while on a digital switchboard, they had a silent callback function that just opened the connection to the called phone, no allarm, nothing, had my time of fun doing this, function mainly was build to chase off bummers from office building door, without calling, but was working on most of digital phones without problems, so is not a phone think this, but a switchboard feature….

Be safe 🙂

The infamous Joe says:

Who's afraid of the Big Bad government?

I think that all you Ben Franklin quoters are missing the point. It’s not as if they are allowing anyone to be listened in on at a whim of the FBI or other government agencies– so no need to start quoting 1984 just yet. They have to have a warrant– that’s the check and balance that’s already in place. Unless I read it wrong, all that was allowed was listening in on a cellphone as if it were a microphone– e.g. to listen in on people around the phone, instead of people ON the phone. (We already have phone tapping, you know– where’s the public outcry for that?) I’m not about to give up my freedom, there is no change to the constitution mentioned, is there? Why aren’t you up on a soapbox about satellite imagery? I don’t understand, is all, and I’ll welcome an explaination from anyone who is capable of doing it without being a pottymouth. (I’m looking at you, Mr. Potato)

And I think someone mentioned it before, but why do so many people feel that the government is looking for a way to silently enlave us all? They’re just people, like you or me, or even Mr. Potato. Are you assuming that you have to be an evil mastermind to be elected– or perhaps you get mutated into one after being elected? Hell, any of you could become elected– should I fear that you are trying to rob me of my liberty the day you’re elected? I should hope not.

For the People, by the People.

PS- For whomever mentioned oral sex being illegal, thanks for the laugh. There are laws, and then there are laws.

PhysicsGuy says:


Are you assuming that you have to be an evil mastermind to be elected– or perhaps you get mutated into one after being elected?

while not as extreme as how you’d portray it, but frankly, yes. you do get mutated after being elected.


coupled with the quote from above “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny”

should be enough… never underestimate the power of position and the role you undertake when put in a position of power…

frankly, i don’t think this is that big of a deal though, modding cell phone software is fairly easy. once the details of how this is done come out it won’t be long before it is preventable.

Uh Oh says:

For #35 Anonymous Coward

I am sorry that you would rather rant about your misguided thoughts than understand the true law. In KATZ v. UNITED STATES the US Supreme Cout held that the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution “protects people, not places” and concluded that electronic surveilance was covered by the 4th Amendment.

The Constitution and interpretive court rulings guides government with how to use electronic surveilance within it’s framework. That is not giving up your rights, but protecting them. Just as it protected Ben Franklin and his freedom of speech, or his words distributed electronically here.

Allowing Government to act under and within the law, for the purpose of protecting society as a whole, even folks like you, is a wonderful thing. We are fortunate to live in a nation of law with checks and balances that ensure fairness and equality.

Your chosen screen name states it best.

Anonymous Hero says:

Re: For #35 Anonymous Coward

Uh Oh wrote: “I am sorry that you would rather rant about your misguided thoughts than understand the true law.”

Talk about a rant. AC#35 simply called you out on your implication that the US constitution has special provisions for “electronic” searches as opposed to searches in general. You seem to be the one “misguided” if you truly believe it does.

Uh Oh wrote: “even folks like you”

Folks who disagree with you really bug you, huh? “Those” kind of people, and all that.

BTW, “Anonymous Coward” is an automatically assigned moniker for those who do _not _ choose one. While you apparently _did_ choose “Uh Oh”. I will resist commenting on that one.

Uh Oh says:

Re: Re: For #35 Anonymous Coward

You may wish to re-read my words in the first post. They were, “Our Constitution allows electronic Searches and Seizures.” I did not mention that “that the US constitution has special provisions for “electronic” searches” as you say I wrote.

Our Constitution allows many kinds of searches that are not delineated in the actual document.

And, for the record, I enjoy conversation, discussion and even arguement with those of opposing views. Folks who disagree with me do not bug me Sigmund.

The infamous Joe (profile) says:

The next Tyrant: Physicsguy

We’ll pretend that wikipedia is a good source of information and not just an exceptionally large source of information written by people who may or may not know what they’re talking about.

That being said, my dear Mr. Physicsguy, if you were placed in a position of power over people, would you try to take advantage of them, secretly trying erode their rights in this country all the while pretending to have what’s best for them in mind? Carrying it a step further, should we immediately distrust every person *we elect* as soon as they are successfully elected? To me, your statement that because the idea of a government that isn’t to be trusted exists, people who are voted into the government feel psychological peer pressure to become untrustworthy is an idea from a cynical conspiracy theorist who has watched one too many eposides of X-Files and 24.(Though, for all I know you’re playing the devil’s advocate– or maybe I am..)

Also note that because some fellow, no matter how smart he was, said something 200 years ago about this topic doesn’t sway me in the slightest. Times change, his words haven’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The next Tyrant: Physicsguy

Whilst power may or may not corrupt, it really doesn’t need to. Let’s take for example any strict Muslim country where a certain type of clothing must be worn and in enfored by law. Or that only a single religion may be worshipped, again enforced by law.

All it takes is for someone with sufficient power to decide that his way is the best. A good example would be a very religious president who then all but makes it illegal not to teach creationism in school. What if he decides you need to attend church irrespective of your religion. Or he decides against homosexuals having any right or freedom.

The problem is people like you don’t care of believe these things can happen, despited the massive historical evidence to the contrary. So to claim there is nothing wrong with new technologies that allow for the slow errosion of your civil liberties is just stupid.

The infamous Joe says:

Whaddya mean 'people like me"?

Ah, Mr. (or Ms.) AC#52, you have certainly hit on one of the reasons I adore this great nation of ours… we choose who governs us. For example, let’s have a look-see at reality. Who, by a show of hands, thinks that President Bush, were he able, would have a chance in hell to become relelected? I don’t see any hands… 😛

We, the people, have the power to choose who governs us, and so if we, say, make a mistake and use poor judgement when casting our vote, well, election year rolls around and we pick someone else (hopefully better suited at talking and breathing at the same time, among other things)

Little known fact: People whose religion differs from the president AND homosexual have the right to vote. Women too! Along the same lines, a lesibian jewish woman who worked for a time in an abortion clinic has just as much right to become a part of the government as you or I (assuming you, Mr/s. AC#52, are an american citizen)

So, if the afformentioned people/groups don’t have the rights they feel they should, then rally the troops (so to speak) and make it happen. If you can’t find the support for said groups, then that’s how it works, give up or try harder.

I think, not speaking for people like me, that I’d rather trade the ability for law enforcement and government agencies to use new technologies (Which MIGHT be misused and hurt people) to catch criminals who ARE hurting people.

And furthermore, I fail to see how allowing cellphones to be used as ‘roaming bugs’ erodes my civil liberties. It’s not like a law was passed that said that I can be listened to at the whim of the local sherriff– the proper checks and balances (warrants, etc) still need to be followed. I mean, they can also sit outside your house (on the street) and listen to you bump uglies with your signifcant other– do ears erode your civil liberties, then?

Lastly, I don’t think you or your opinions are stupid– just different than mine. Am I wrong to expect the same courtesy from you?

The infamous Joe says:

With all Due Respect...

Mr. Businessman, I think you should re-read the article linked above, which clearly states that it is only available to Law Enforcement and Government Agencies, not the private sector, including private investigators. And before you come with the rebuttal I’m sure would follow, the technology already exists, we’re merely speaking about the government’s use of it. Every technology can be misused, that isn’t what concerns me. Criminals will do what they do– I, and people like me, merely argue that our law enforcement should be adequately equipped to stop them.

Again, I mean no disrespect, sometimes reading the articles can become tedious, or perhaps I misunderstood your point.

wraeth says:

My Two Cents

The argument about whether power corrupts cannot be held absolute: it becomes a psychological discussion at this point. Firstly, I can say that I, at this present time, would do what I thought ‘correct’ and ‘honerable’ should I be in a position of power. But who’s to say that someone else thinks the same of what I do? Besides which, how can you predict the effects of something you have not experienced?

Second, think about this: what makes them reach for a position of power in the first place?

Third, imagine the situation of a parent doing ‘what is best’ for their child. It may turn out that it wasn’t the best solution, but the parent thought it was.

Building on the second and third points, think of Hitler. Hitler believed, essentially, that homosexuals, Jews, et cetera, were an abomination, and that associating with them – allowing them to live – was bad.

I know that there will be many arguments started about this, but let me say that I used it only as an extreme example.

Returning to the point at hand, tapping peoples mobile phones is quite obviously a breach of privacy, in the same way that tapping land-line phones is, or capturing private E-Mails. The difference is that, instead of capturing individual conversations or messages, they can listen indefinitaely. It would be like a complete stranger following you around wherever you took your mobile phone and listening intently to whatever you, or anyone around you, said.

Yes, there are controls in place to prevent this being used without reasonable purpose, but how long before it is abused?

|333173|3|_||3 says:

1) It will be hacked, that is obvious.
2) you can pull out the battery for at least a few minutes without any problems, I accidentally did that once, and decided to clean out the battery compartment while the battery was out. You could always do this if you had a sensitive conversation.
3) THe real issue is hackers/blackmailers, not the gov’t (although be careful going overseas).

PhysicsGuy says:

The next Tyrant: Physicsguy

you have an amazing ability at comprehension. please enter a field of science so you can astound the world with your amazing analytical abilities and insight.

you apparently didn’t understand the concept behind the prison experiment. and yes, wikipedia is a surprisingly good source for quite a few things. i learned about the stanford prison experiment in psych class and watched a video about it by zimbardo himself. the wikipedia entry does a fairly good job explaining it. it does not, however, have the impact of hearing about the experience from the people involved in the experiment. the conversation between one of the prisoners and one of the guards afterwards was rather interesting.

if you put yourself in a position of power, i’ll guarantee you’ll act differently than what you ideally think you would. anyone who says they’d “act this way or act that way” needs to stop living in their fantasy world. humans and human behavior, including your behaviors and ideals, are not black and white and are subject to an enormous amount of influences… i’m just sorry you have to live in denial about that.

Also note that because some fellow, no matter how smart he was, said something 200 years ago about this topic doesn’t sway me in the slightest. Times change, his words haven’t.

200 years ago? ok, so THAT makes sense, you didn’t even READ the link. so you decided to argue something in which you have NO basis whatsoever for your counterpoint… excellent… btw, last time i checked 200 isn’t 35 …

Mr. Kill-Joy says:


Didn’t Clinton tap phones illegally? Hasn’t Bush II already done so? Unless my mind is playing tricks on me that was reported. They don’t need warrants because how could you ever prove you’ve been tapped. It’s not like you get a message “We’re spying on you, have a nice day.”
The U.S. government, (and pretty much every powerful government worldwide. Communications is a fairly tight knit grid) can tap and intercept communications on an international reach and surely do so regularly. The U.N. building is riddled with bugs apparently. This is all part of the grand game of power-politics. The fact that the NSA datamines social networks like Myspace and Bebo and blogs further shows their willingness to know more about “normal” people who have nothing to hide.
It’s a truism (provided you delve into history of more depth than a high-school text book) that governments have more to fear from their own people than wacky terrorists who tend to be treated like pawns on a chessboard anyway. Just look at any social uprising in history and you can see just how terrified governments get at the idea of a politically active populace who do inevitably get labeled terrorists. (But you can’t argue with results. We got rid of serfdom, slavery and we’ve got the vote, even if just means we get to decide which rich kid gets to play the game)
The terror threat from groups such as Al-Qaida has been drastically exaggerated anyway, whether you believe in wacky conspiracy theories or you’re naive enough to trust the state.
This has always been the case.. the neccessity of fear, without which no population can be cowed into subservience. Take for instance The Soviet Union. The Capitalist world was terrified of it long after Soviet Communism had gone broke. Now you’re terrified of Islamic Jihad, a dwindling movement in which 9/11 was one of their last ditch attempts to rebuild its support base since America abandoned them
Even if it was a large movement, if wire taps could wipe them out this so called war on terror would have been over long ago because someone planning some sort of atrocity with serious intent of carrying it out wouldn’t be using a mobile phone on a major network for reconnaissance and I don’t think the mafia are that brain dead either. So if not that the only logical desire the FBI could have for such spying techniques is to check up on dissidents, protesters and similiar groups who just feel their government is letting them down.
Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t even live in the U.S. Look into it yourself.

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