Court Says Feds Need A Warrant To Listen To Touchtone Beeps Too

from the beep-boop-bop-beep-beep-beep-beep dept

While there are still arguments over the legality of the government’s warrantless wiretap program, apparently there’s been a separate court case looking at whether or not a warrant is needed if the authorities are just listening to your touchtone dialing, rather than the contents of the call itself. The feds felt that if it was just the touchtone beeps, then they didn’t need any warrant at all — but a court has now shot that theory down. The feds tried to claim that such data was not “content” which would trigger the need for a warrant — but considering that with today’s touchtone IVR systems, such data could include passwords, PINs, social security numbers and other private data, it seems perfectly reasonable to suggest a warrant is necessary.

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Comments on “Court Says Feds Need A Warrant To Listen To Touchtone Beeps Too”

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Anonymous Coward says:

If its PRIVATE they need a WARRANT

Like seriously. For the most part law enforcement guys are alright. Even the detectives. But then you get jackassery like this that makes you want to paint them all with the same label of “will do anything to pursue their version of justice.”

If it is not a public place, they need a warrant to observe. If its not analogous to a public place, they need a warrant to observe. If its something protected by the a Constitutional Amendment, they need a warrant!

4th Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Courts have been taking “papers” to include mail, and once that evolved to telephone calls and e-mail they included those in the protections as well making “communication” protected by the 4th Amendment.

The *only* exception is that they can look at who it was going to, since for mail that would be on the envelope, “in public” view. All that means is they can look at the telcom log and see the number dialed out to.

The courts will slam this down in the end. Lord knows the appellate court will look like asshats if they let it go forward but if it keeps going this is the kind of case the SCOTUS will take and set right.

Yeebok (profile) says:


I think ‘O RLY ? YA RLY’ would’ve been much more in context 🙂 I think you’ll find in general these days whatever civil right they want to intrude upon, they either link it with terrorists, paedophiles or both. Then when it’s opposed, they call you one or the other. Case in point, net censorship in Australia. Be interesting to see what you (techdirt) think of that but all I see is American stuff on here.
@usmcdvldg – I think to be fair the ratio is probably the other way around – and no, I am not a copper.

To be honest I think the button presses on a tone dial phone could be far more damaging for you than any conversation.

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