Magistrate Stephen Smith: The Feds Do A Lot Of Secret Spying On Citizens
A Houston federal magistrate testified to Congress today about just how much secret surveillance the government is doing on your cell phone and other such devices.
Stephen Smith's prepared testimony says that Houston federal judges from 1995 to 2007 issued 325 "electronic surveillance orders" a year, in hearings where only the law-enforcement side is present.
"The public rarely learns about these orders, even long after issuance, because they are routinely placed under indefinite (ie., permanent) seal," he writes.
Out of 3,886 orders initially sealed "until further order of the court" between 1997 and 2005, he says, 99.8 percent remain under seal.
Gridiron Glory: The Best of Pro Football HOF -- 10AM-6PM
TicketsSun., Mar. 26, 10:00am
Rice Owls Men's Baseball vs. Florida International University Men's Baseball
TicketsSun., Mar. 26, 1:00pm
Gridiron Glory: The Best of Pro Football HOF -- 10AM-3PM
TicketsMon., Mar. 27, 10:00am
Gridiron Glory: The Best of Pro Football HOF -- 3PM-8PM
TicketsMon., Mar. 27, 3:00pm
He says "the brunt of such secrecy is not necessarily borne" only by targets of investigations.
"Any target is likely to call or be called by family, friends, associates, or even total strangers who have no connection to a criminal enterprise," he says. "Yet by the fortuity of a single call, thse by-standers may be swept up in a criminal investigation, their cell phone use monitored and their location tracked in real time."
He calls for reforms such as time limits on orders and standards on sealing and "post-acquisition notice of tracking orders to cell phone users."
It's interesting stuff, well worth a read.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.