Saturday, April 23, 2011

Grammatically Incorrect: Illusions of privacy and your iPhone

Here are a few items that merit Grits readers attention:

Creepy Big Brother Tech in your iPhone
Your iPhone and that fancy new iPad collect your location tracking data wherever you go and periodically send all the information to Apple, with law enforcement agencies accessing the information whenever they please. And they please a lot: According to one researcher, Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers' (GPS) location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009."  It's not just iPhones, either: "an HTC Android phone determined its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least a few times an hour, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal." I'll try and learn more going forward about how or if this technology is being used in Texas. MORE: From Popular Mechanics, "Should cops be allowed to scan your phone during a traffic stop?"

CCA: Grammarians unwanted among judicial ranks
Mark Bennett at Defending People critiques what he describes as Humpty-Dumptyesque legal reasoning from Judge Barbara Hervey and the Court of Criminal Appeals to uphold a search warrant that the trial court and the appellate court both held invalid. At Liberty and Justice for Y'all, B.W. Barnett blogs on the same case, explaining why, henceforth, Texas judges interpreting police statements in search-warrant affidavits need no longer feel constrained by grammatical rules that might normally guide interpretation of a sentence in other contexts - say, in a sophomore high-school English class.

Psychology and the law
From In the News, Karen Franklin turns us onto a special issue on psychology and law from the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science which includes a number of articles from a who's-who authors list that may interest Grits readers (all pdfs):
Drawing conclusions about illusions
In part as a result of my interest in the brain science behind eyewitness identification errors, I've recently been studying optical illusions and learned that I can't see some of them. On Huevos Rancheros I published a rumination on how much of what we see comes from information filled in by our memory, a subject with implications for eyewitness testimony and perhaps other aspects of the criminal justice system.


JohnT said...

Hmm. The iphone and ipad track user movements with and without GPS. A NYT article said that the cell phones keep a file on the cell phone itself of your locations updating frequently from WiFi hotspots, and nearest microwave towers. It doesn't matter if you are using GPS or not.

Further, the same article says that when the user syncs his phone, the tracking file is uploaded to his PC. There is concern that this may expose his/her private data to hackers.

A followon article said that Apple is under investigation in a couple of European countries (I seem to remember Switzerland and Spain). The EU has much stricter data protection laws.

And finally, Big Brother is incidental. The fear is Big Inc more than Big Brother. Some of us suspect that Big Brother is just an arm of Big Inc.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the law enforcement use is to track people who have been kidnapped or who are missing, which is appropriate. It may also be useful in other ways. A friend was falsely accused of sexual molestation of a 16 yr old, but her cell put her somewhere else and his does not show him doing some things when she said he did, since they were not in the same place.