Thursday, July 3, 2008

Surveillance in America

Civil liberties groups in the US are demanding that the Department of Justice cough details of its use of mobile phone tracking - particularly how often it's done so without probable cause of a crime being committed.

A federal court action has been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The two groups are are asking for details of all investigations involving mobile phone tracking, though they're particularly interested in cases where courts haven't been involved.

"The information now in the public domain suggests that [the DOJ] may be engaging in unauthorized and potentially unconstitutional tracking of individuals through their mobile phones," claims the complaint. - The Register

In related civil liberties news, there is a Senate bill floating around that, if passed, would allow the government to spy on internet commerce.

The bipartisan housing bill currently being debated in the Senate contains an unrelated amendment that will burden innovative Internet companies and threaten the civil liberties of every American. Without any discussion, Senators added a provision to H.R. 3221 (The American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008) requiring electronic payment services to collect, aggregate, and transmit details of every sale to the federal government.

This includes not only major credit card providers such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, but also pioneers in online commerce such as Amazon, Google Checkout, and eBay’s PayPal. These companies would be required to construct vast databases of personal information from merchants, including names, addresses, social security numbers, and detailed information about every electronic transaction. Not only would these requirements trigger higher fees for merchants and higher prices for consumers, but they will also needlessly subject millions of small businesses to the risk of identity theft. - The Hill's Blog

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