The Era of iSpying: Court Upholds Warrantless Cell-Phone Tracking

Americans shouldn't have to surrender their privacy in order to carry a smartphone.

As ever, rumors are circulating about the features Apple may include on the next iteration of the iPhone. Will it store fingerprints as a security feature used to unlock the device or aid secure transactions? That's the buzz. The idea has undoubted appeal. I'd love to press my thumb to a screen rather than entering the four-digit code the currently unlocks my device. But wait. If I store a thumbprint on my iPhone, does that mean the government would be free to seize it, sans warrant, on the theory that I forfeited any expectation of privacy when I gave it to Apple?

There is reason to think so.

The government doesn't need a search warrant to extract location data from cell-phone users, a federal court ruled Tuesday, noting that a cellular subscriber, "like a telephone user, understands that his cellphone must send a signal to a nearby cell tower in order to wirelessly connect his call."

Is there information you don't mind giving Verizon that you wouldn't want the government to know? "I elect to have a relationship with my carrier, and I pay them," a commenter at The New York Times wrote. "In doing so, I have a reasonable expectation that that business relationship is between my carrier and myself and not any other organization -- especially not a government entity."

Read more at The Atlantic