N.S.A Tracking Location via Cellphones

Posted by Seth Chazin | Dec 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

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With the 5 billion cell phone records that the National Security Agency collects each day, they are tracking the whereabouts of individuals and mapping their relationships with others as well. Through the use of snooping into everyday citizens' cell phone records, the NSA pin points where and when individuals are at a certain location and who they are with.

According to Edward Snowden, former NSA contractor, the records are kept in a massive database that stores information about the locations of hundreds of millions of cellular devices. New technologies have been created to organize the data and provide the agency with what amounts to mass surveillance of citizens around the world. The Agency claims that they do not aim to target Americans' locations, yet they still receive large quantities of information on the location of domestic cell phones “incidentally,” claiming that the collection of this information is thus not “deliberate.”

The recent efforts to collect and analyze location data is unparalleled. Even other recently disclosed NSA surveillance programs do not compare to these latest revelations. (NSA now accused of spying on french citizens, NSA Gathers info on Social Connections of US Citizens , 20 Organizations File Lawsuit against NSA , NSA Spying on Mexican and Brazilian Leaders ). Analysts can now find cell phones anywhere in the world and retrace the movements and relationships between individuals using cellular devices.

U.S. officials claim that the programs that collect and analyze location data are legal and intended only to gain information about foreign suspects. The NSA cannot claim that the movements of the majority of cell phone users in the US would safeguard our national security. The NSA does not “intend” to collect bulk data of individual's locations, yet this occurs due to the powerful CO-TRAVELER tool they use. This tool allows the agency to look for people who associate with potential targets and track them down.

This is a problem when it comes to the privacy of individuals. There is no way to hide the location of a cell phone, unlike the encryption of an e-mail. The NSA collects and records everything it can—which has amounted to 27 terabytes, more than double the size of the Library of Congress's print collection.

When it comes to the question of whether the NSA is going too far by tracking every person's location through their cell phones, there is no question that these actions are overly intrusive and an invasion of privacy of millions of innocent American citizens. The NSA needs to narrow their actions to the confines of the United States Constitution, which guarantees all citizens the right under the Fourth Amendment to be free from unlawful search and seizure. Furthermore, the NSA should narrow their focus to specified suspects. It is inappropriate, unnecessary and overly intrusive for the NSA to record the location of any person using a cell phone, regardless of where they are located.

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About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 25 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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Seth P. Chazin is a San Francisco Bay Area Criminal Defense Lawyer with over 30 years experience.

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