After the terrorist attacks on September 11th America changed for the worse, with the rights of citizens being thrown out left and right under the guise of “increased protection”. This latest brouhaha over the new full body scanners at many of America’s largest airports is yet another example of invasion of privacy aimed to scare the living bejesus out of the sad souls who want nothing more than to visit their loved ones or go to a business meeting. Recently however, things changed for the better. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told the Obama administration that they need to get a warrant to access cell-site data from operators; no longer will the government be able to call up your operator and simply ask them where you’ve been.
Cell-site data, for those not in the loop, is a set of information that details which cell tower you connected to at both the start and end of a call. Operators typically store this information about their customers for 18 months. If you’ve ever in trouble with the law then your mobile phone could either prove or disprove you alibi, thus if you’re planning to commit a crime then try and pick up a prepaid mobile phone or better yet just leave your phone at home.
Trading your rights for protection is stupid and it’s one of the many reasons why I moved to Europe nearly 3.5 years ago. Every time I come back for the holidays I go through a minimum 1 hour interrogation and am sometimes even asked why as an American citizen I don’t prefer living in America. It’s preposterous, embarrassing, and a waste of time. I’d like to say that this decision will be the first of many that restore people’s rights, but I’ve got no confidence in things getting better.