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Police Secretly Planting GPS Devices On Cars

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the spiderman-does-it-all-the-time dept.

Privacy 609

bfwebster writes "The Washington Post has a long investigative article on how more and more police departments are secretly planting GPS tracking devices on the cars of people they are investigating — usually without a warrant. After-the-fact court challenges on this technique have largely upheld such use of a GPS device, though the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that a warrant is required."

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Do the police... (5, Insightful)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591869)

Do the police require a warrant if they want to follow me around for the day? If yes then I believe this should require a warrant. Else, what's the diff except it costs much less and is more discrete.

Grump

Re:Do the police... (1)

SgtKeeling (717065) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591925)

I agree with Forest. Isn't it essentially the same thing as having a police car follow you around all the time? If they're allowed to do that, then following you with a GPS tracker doesn't seem like that big of a stretch.

Re:Do the police... (5, Insightful)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591955)

Eh, I don't know if I'd go quite that far. Police can track you in public, but this thing could track you on private land (maybe your own - esp if you're a farmer or rancher).

This is ok, but with a warrant, IMHO.

Re:Do the police... (2, Interesting)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591979)

I agree with the parent (and grandparent).

That is, as long as they don't charge you for breaking traffic laws while they're investigating whatever-else

Re:Do the police... (2, Insightful)

fractic (1178341) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592389)

Why does everybody allways acts like they are being cheated out of their money when caught breaking traffic laws? They are laws, you know them and they improve safety.

Re:Do the police... (3, Insightful)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592315)

Eh, I don't know if I'd go quite that far. Police can track you in public, but this thing could track you on private land (maybe your own - esp if you're a farmer or rancher).

And once those gps units are small enough, they'll be able to plant them on your person and track you everywhere.

Re:Do the police... (2, Interesting)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592411)

They already can.. they're called mobile phones. Triangulation can get your location down to about 10 feet.

Re:Do the police... (4, Informative)

syzler (748241) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592177)

When a police officer is tracking you, do they hitch a ride without telling you?

Let's suppose that an officer on the street can observe me in my house by looking through the window. Is the police officer then justified in mounting a camera to the side of my house and pointing it in the window without first obtaining a warrant?

I think most people would agree that the police do not have the right to mount a camera to my house, building, or any other structure without my consent or a court issued warrant.

If mounting the camera to my house is not allowed, why are they allowed to mount other foreign objects (GPS) to my moveable property (car) without a warrant?

Whether reasonably measurable or not, they are, without my express authorization or compensation, using energy from my vehicle and causing additional wear and tear on my vehicle. This could be construed as theft of service (transportation fees).

Re:Do the police... (1, Interesting)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592261)

Whether reasonably measurable or not, they are, without my express authorization or compensation, using energy from my vehicle and causing additional wear and tear on my vehicle. This could be construed as theft of service (transportation fees).

This is exactly why I'm suing the DOT for not cleaning the roads. I have to carry around all their dust, which is causing additional wear and tear on my vehicle. They're stealing my cars utility from me!

Re:Do the police... (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592445)

Actually I think anyone has the right to look through an open window and yes, this means having the right to place a video camera as well. There's no ethical difference between recording with meat or electronics. There is no such thing as a "right" to privacy, but most fortunately, there is a right to close the curtains.

As for the GPS tracking device, as soon as the car enters private property, this becomes trespassing and should at least require a warrant.

Re:Do the police... (2, Interesting)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592351)

Private land aside - OK, but they had better not complain if they don't have a warrant and I find and keep the device for my own use.
Also, you're paying money in gasoline and car upkeep to transport their gizmo. Send them a bill for (mass of tracker)/(total car mass) * gas cost.

Re:Do the police... (5, Interesting)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591935)

Do the police require a warrant if they want to follow me around for the day? If yes then I believe this should require a warrant. Else, what's the diff except it costs much less and is more discrete.

Grump

Let's try a better analogy:

Do the police need a warrant to overhear my conversations while I'm on my cell phone in a public place? No, but they are legally required to have one if they're going to bug my phone.

Re:Do the police... (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591995)

They only hear half a conversation on the phone, and even that requires a certain proximity, usually. You can always get the little dish thing they advertise to old ladies and kids on late-night TV, but you still only get one side.

Re:Do the police... (2, Insightful)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592059)

They only hear half a conversation on the phone, and even that requires a certain proximity, usually. You can always get the little dish thing they advertise to old ladies and kids on late-night TV, but you still only get one side.

Likewise, if they are tailing you all day they only see where you go and what you do when you've got a cop on your ass all day. They don't get to see where you would go on your own, or where you go on your own private property (for instance, if you owned a few hundred acres out in the country). Its more information gathering than is justifiable without a warrant (which is NOT that hard to get).

Re:Do the police... (2, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592095)

Using your example of sorts: following a car physically only tells you where the car is while it is on public property. The minute that car drives onto a ranch or farm, or the moment it drives into a privately owned garage or building, the police either have to stop cold at that point, or have a warrant handy. A GPS tracker will track exactly where the car is no matter what.

Re:Do the police... (5, Interesting)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592195)

A GPS tracker will track exactly where the car is no matter what.

Given the limitations of GPS, except for when it's in a garage or building ;)

Seriously, though, if the police put a tracker on my car, and are unable to produce documentation demonstrating that they have done so, is the tracker mine if I discover it before they remove it?

Re:Do the police... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24592291)

The only part of what you said that holds any water would be the ranch or farm, and only if such property is large enough for the vehicle to no longer be visible from public property. The privately owned garage or building fails in that the cops, while not being able to enter such places, can still sit and wait for you to leave. At least with the GPS you can drop it onto the car sitting next to yours in the garage giving the cops someone else to follow.

Re:Do the police... (5, Funny)

Joe Snipe (224958) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592115)

Let's try the best analogy: Do the police need a warrant to duct tape a midget to the underside of my car? If yes then I believe this should require a warrant. Else, what's the diff except it costs much less and is more discrete.

Re:Do the police... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24592295)

Do the police need a warrant to duct tape a midget to the underside of my car?

If the midget can be classified as an "enemy combatant", then no.

Re:Do the police... (1)

Ambiguous Puzuma (1134017) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591961)

Well, for one thing, a GPS device probably doesn't distinguish between public and private spaces.

Re:Do the police... (4, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591965)


Else, what's the diff except it costs much less and is more discrete.

Good argument. Then you'd also agree that I can put a GPS on anyones car without permission, including the police, elected officials, or you?

Re:Do the police... (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592041)

Then you'd also agree that I can put a GPS on anyones car without permission, including the police, elected officials, or you?

Yes, you can. I would not like it, and I will get rid of it, if I find it, but it is not illegal for you to do it — and you may use the obtained information against me in a court of law.

Re:Do the police... (5, Informative)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592225)

No if a private citizen does it they go to jail. [engadget.com] If it is known to be illegal will any police officers go to jail for doing this? Of course not. Will their commanding officers be removed from police force for negligence of duty in allowing those under them to use illegal tactics? Of course not. Do the police give a shit if this is illegal, if they only get caught occasionally and when they do the suffer no personal penalties? Of course not.

Re:Do the police... (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592357)

Your link has little detail — I would not surprised, if the guy violated a restraining order or some such... Or it may be, that California has a special law against it — with possible exceptions for police. In any case, a link to some blog-entry is not a compelling argument — leaves too much room for speculation.

Re:Do the police... (1)

Rolman (120909) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592367)

Well, even Spider-Man puts a spidertransmitter on people's cars once in a while...

*ducks*

Re:Do the police... (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592091)

They can put a GPS on my car but I want the data afterwards. I want to see just how fast I can make the Beggar's Canyon run. Wait... wrong article. Nevermind.

Re:Do the police... (4, Informative)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592003)


Do the police require a warrant if they want to follow me around for the day? If yes then I believe this should require a warrant. Else, what's the diff except it costs much less and is more discrete.

The problem is twofold:

1. If they damage your car, that is vandalism/destruction of private property.

2. If they find some sort of incriminating evidence and are on private property without a warrant then that evidence is inadmissible in court.

Therefore it's prudent and not trespassing when they do this. Until then, those pricks in the van otside can waste all the gas they want.

Re:Do the police... (2, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592017)

As long as said police follow you around on public property only, they are well within their rights to do so, since they don't have to trespass on your property or violate your privacy to do it. But the moment you walk onto or into a privately-owned property, they need a warrant. Your driveway and garage can be considered considered as private property, for instance. Your car itself is private property, and requires (or should require) a warrant before the police can do anything on it, to it, or with it physically.

It's a lot like the diff between a policeman standing within earshot of your cell phone call out in public, and wire-tapping the thing to get an audio copy of the contents.

/P

Re:Do the police... (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592025)

That's an interesting perspective, but I think this is more like planting an audio bug in someone's house and keeping a recording of the audio because it provides a data record that would be impossible for a human to do. Ostensibly, this analogy fails at the part where your car is always in public space (for the sake of argument, I acknowledge the existence of exceptions).

But since they specifically access your vehicle for the sake of getting this information, I think that violates the boundaries of your personal space. I mean, they can't search the inside of your car without a warrant or probable cause.

This is very different from say, having all the camera-eyes log your license place upon detection, which does not place itself within the domain of your vehicle.

Re:Do the police... (2, Informative)

linzeal (197905) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592197)

The red states are getting scary. I am glad I live in the Northwest.

Re:Do the police... (1)

thepainter (1134709) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592199)

The police can follow me around all day without a warrant, but they can not place an officer in my vehicle's back seat without a warrant. I expect police to show probable cause to some magistrate before placing something on my personal vehicle for enforcement purposes.

Re:Do the police... (3, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592203)

"Quantity has a quality all its own".

It would take 5 officers to tail someone 24/7. That is enough to stop almost all frivolous or abusive tracking. Without that deterrent, the only thing that could block abuse would be judicial oversight.

Re:Do the police... (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592221)

What if I followed you the whole day 10 steps behind you? Let's say I was discrete about it? Now what if I followed you around the whole day poking you in the back the entire time?

You seem to base your premise on the fact the police have as much right to be someplace in public as you do. That whole, "It's a free country" argument. Fine, I agree with that. That is not the same as putting a tracking device on your property though.

A warrant is required when it violates your privacy, and especially, your private property. Your car is your private property and is subject to the same protections under the 4th amendment as anything else.

There is no justification for planting a GPS tracker without a warrant. If I was a judge I would throw out any GPS evidence obtained without one. This is just more evidence of the police playing "fast and loose". It happens from time to time. Even the best cops can get passionate and a little over zealous in trying to "put away the bad guys". It is the DA and the judges that are supposed to act as checks and balances against this behavior. Good cops will not risk letting the perp go on a technicality.

The whole point of the 4th amendment is to provide citizens protections against over zealous people in government.

The difference between "following" and "tracking" (5, Interesting)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592235)

An easy way to answer your question, and countless others like it:

"What would happen to me, as a private citizen, if I did this to a cop?"

If the answer is "Nothing," then it's probably a reasonable thing for the cops to do to you. If the answer is "Waal, I believe that there'd be a tasin', boy," then it is not.

So, you tell me. What do you think would happen if you were caught placing tracking devices on police cars?

And as for the courts permitting this kind of crap to occur: remember the most important lesson of the Gulag Archipelago. The judicial system is your last defense. When they fail to protect your rights, the time for peaceful reckoning is past.

Re:Do the police... (5, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592243)

Do the police require a warrant if they want to follow me around for the day?

No.

If yes then I believe this should require a warrant.

But its no.

Else, what's the diff except it costs much less and is more discrete.

Good point. I wonder if the police would object if I went up to their patrol cars, ghost cars, and other vehicles and slapped my own gps transmitters on them, and then published their whearabouts in realtime on google maps. I mean, I could do all this legally if I just had a bunch of people follow their cars around all day and post their whearabouts, right?

So whats the diff except that it costs much less and is more discrete?

Yet, something tells me the police would object strenuously to this.

Analogies Not Sufficient (5, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592263)

Do the police require a warrant if they want to follow me around for the day? If yes then I believe this should require a warrant. Else, what's the diff except it costs much less and is more discrete.

No, they don't need a warrant to tail you, your whereabouts in public places isn't considered a search, but public information. However...

The Sixth Circuit held [wislawjournal.com] in the Baily case, of attaching a beeper (rather than GPS, c.1980), that merely analogizing with tailing isn't sufficient to decide the issue, it's one of reasonable expectation of privacy.

The judge in the 7th circuit Garcia case wrote :

One can imagine the police affixing GPS tracking devices to thousands of cars at random, recovering the devices, and using digital search techniques to identify suspicious driving patterns. One can even imagine a law requiring all new cars to come equipped with the device so that the government can keep track of all vehicular movement in the United States.

Personally, I read that as a warning, not a suggestion, but it's what he feels the law allows for. I'm slowly being persuaded by Moore's Law that perhaps a Constitutional Amendment clarifying the right to privacy (which many of us feels already exists in the 4th amendment) would be an OK thing. Now, to get Congress to pass that (ha!).

Bruce Schneier argues [schneier.com] for the requirements of warrants for these kinds of tracking, to prevent rampant growth and abuse of the police state.

Fortunately for the police state, citizens are voluntarily loading up their cars with tracking devices (EZ Pass, Tire Pressure Monitors, OnStar), so they don't have to even bother installing a GPS device in some cases. Sure, everybody knows that cell phones can be tracked, but how many people know that federally-mandated tire pressure monitoring systems send out a unique 'MAC' for every wheel?

What's gotten people burned in several cases I've read about is that they were driving vehicles they didn't own, and the courts make a distinction there. Does the car you regularly drive have your name on the title or your wife's? That's exactly what got one guy's 4th amendment defense thrown out - his wife 'owned' the car he used, so they weren't tracking his property and he didn't have standing.

Re:Do the police... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24592301)

Do the police require a warrant if they want to follow me around for the day?

See: Chilling effect [wikipedia.org]

Re:Do the police... (4, Informative)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592353)

Do the police require a warrant if they want to follow me around for the day?

If they do it for very long I'm betting you'd have a harassment case.

what's the diff except it costs much less and is more discrete.

Well, at the risk of repeating you, it costs less, which means there is no natural inhibition to them doing it on a large scale, and it's more discrete, which means the public is unable to connect with it as an issue for discussion.

The cost / large scale surveillance issue is ultimately an extension of reasonable expectation of privacy. While a person does not have a reasonable expectation to never be seen when out driving around, they do (at least IMO) have a reasonable expectation to not have their entire route history recorded.

The public awareness issue is a simple matter of who is watching the watchers. The public should know how many of these things are in use and (after a blackout period to allow temporary covert surveillance) who they are being used on. The reason is accountability; if the people decide they don't want this, their wishes must be obeyed. But the people cannot express an informed opinion about that which they cannot see.

A black & white following a car around is a public statement, "We are watching you." A GPS device with no warrant is also a statement, "We don't want you to know how much we're watching you." I don't trust a "Democracy" that doesn't want me to know what it is doing (after a reasonable black-op period of course, maybe maxing out at something like a year or two) in my name.

"The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted." - James Madison

I figure Madison was a pretty sharp guy, and he spent literally years discussing and forming his concepts with other heroes of our history. You can study the causes for his views in such pieces as Common Sense and The Federalist Papers, or you can just respect his credentials. But if you haven't spent a few years studying the topic, you should beware that the risks he wanted to avoid are not just hypothetical.

Re:Do the police... (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592413)

More to the point, in my opinion:

Can I follow a police car around for a day?

Can I plant a GPS device on a police car?

If the answers are "yes", then sure, go for it, bug the hell out of my car - I think it's a bad idea to allow it but at least it's fair. If the answers are "no", then play by your own rules, fuckers.

Re:Do the police... (4, Informative)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592443)

They don't need a warrant.

Essentially, the police can make any observations they want, provided they do it from a vantage point they have a right to be. They can, for example, make aerial observations of your home provided they don't fly lower than is normal or prudent.

A cop can watch you walk across a public square. He can even note this down if he wants to. Technology adds the wrinkle that he doesn't necessarily have to be in the square to do this. He can use surveillance cameras. Or a computer with face recognition software.

This is a bug in the Bill of Rights. It was hacked together all too hastily, therefore it isn't very good about laying out actual rights. It's more focused on curbing specific abuses. Well times change, and technology changes, and with it the kinds of abuses that are possible.

The law as we inherited it from our forbears assumes that surveillance is too costly to employ frivolously, and that therefore the government has a strong disincentive to use it; and if it is used there is an assumption the government has a strong incentive to stop. And this was true for a long time. As a consequence, suspicion is viewed from a legal standpoint as something more benign than it really is. Suspicion leads to investigation which either leads to exoneration or an indictment. Failing either of these results probably meant that there just wasn't enough investigation possible given the resources and time available.

Anyhow, that's how you can fall onto a terrorist watch list and the onus is on you to get yourself off and if the system keeps dropping you on it, tough luck for you. The possibility of cheap, automated suspicion is something that would never have occurred to the founders.

The new frontier of tyranny is the use of widespread, unpredictable surveillance, not for gathering information, but for exerting social control. The Chinese are masters of this. Under this form of tyranny, you end up internalizing whatever rules the masters want.

There is nothing specific in the Constitution that keeps the government from using technology to watch, catalog and cross reference every movement of every member of the population, provided that the information is obtained legally. Legally would include any observations they make from a public place, or can buy from a private source. And since surveillance is clearly one of the things the government is empowered to do, and such uses of surveillance aren't expressly forbidden, there is a school of Constitutional thought that says this is allowable.

Fortunately, this kind of literalist reading of the Constitution is not yet the prevailing one.

With respect to the GPS on the car -- that could be an interesting Constitutional case, although not one I'd like to see before this court. But then, you never know. It reminds me of a case a few years back in which the police used thermal imaging of a suspect's home walls as probable cause to support a (successful) search for a marijuana garden. The arguments were all over the place as you might imagine, but Scalia, if I recall, was one of those who thought this was probably not allowable.

That's a stupid idea. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24591897)

Take a device that detects whether or not there is a GPS sending and receiving info, and you find it in a car, dump it in some predetermined location with counter measures, and lead the cops to a trap? Bye bye cops...

Re:That's a stupid idea. (1)

penix1 (722987) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591975)

Even better. Sell it on ebay and make some money off it. This is exactly what one suspect did (can't recall the /. link) IIRC.

Re:That's a stupid idea. (2, Informative)

Phoenix0 (1242588) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592245)

Even better. Sell it on ebay and make some money off it. This is exactly what one suspect did (can't recall the /. link) IIRC.

Couldn't find a slashdot article on it, but it's elsewhere. [indymedia.org]

It's probably not a transmitter (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592009)

Googling around, it seems most of these things just store GPS location data and are recovered later and played back.

Perfect alibi (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592341)

you find it in a car, dump it in some predetermined location with counter measures, and lead the cops to a trap?

I'd leave it at my garage. The perfect alibi, the police themselves would testify I never left my home while whatever they were investigating happened.

Yes, but... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24591907)

If they attach it to my car without my permission, doesn't it become MINE to do whatever I want with? Seriously, how many of these do they really expect to recover and download data from? Plus, doesn't it become "theft of services" the minute they hook it up to my car's electrical system?

Re:Yes, but... (3, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591963)

If they attach it to my car without my permission, doesn't it become MINE to do whatever I want with?

Good question. I'd think you could take it off and toss it in a dumpster if you found it.

Seriously, how many of these do they really expect to recover and download data from? Plus, doesn't it become "theft of services" the minute they hook it up to my car's electrical system?

I doubt they wire it in. Its probably just battery operated and attached magnetically, probably lasts 5-10 days, before they go pick it up/swap it out.

Re:Yes, but... (4, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592137)

I'd think you could take it off and toss it in a dumpster if you found it.

Wouldn't it be more fun to attach it to a random taxicab instead? If you really want to screw with someone, you could always go to a gas station near a freeway, look for someone towing a boat and obviously on their way to some vacation hotspot, and then attach the device to the boat when its owner isn't looking...

/P

Re:Yes, but... (1)

Tankko (911999) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592453)

And how would they recover the device? You watch too much TV if you think they are tracking these in real time. :-)

Re:Yes, but... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591981)

Plus, doesn't it become "theft of services" the minute they hook it up to my car's electrical system?

If it takes 3 seconds to install it's almost certainly battery powered.

Re:Yes, but... (2)

Bovius (1243040) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591999)

It seems like it would belong to you at that point, but I doubt that would hold up in court; if you did anything with it, an accusation of impeding a police investigation would probably trump your claim of ownership. Then again, doing anything other than what a police officer arbitrarily wants you to do could be construed as impeding an investigation.

Re:Yes, but... (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592329)

It seems like it would belong to you at that point, but I doubt that would hold up in court; if you did anything with it, an accusation of impeding a police investigation would probably trump your claim of ownership. Then again, doing anything other than what a police officer arbitrarily wants you to do could be construed as impeding an investigation.

Unless it actually says property of the police deparment on it, you'd have no reason to assume it belong to them. And if I found some unmarked metal box on my car, I'm pretty sure there is nothing preventing me from removing it.

On the other hand, if it does say, property of the police, I'd just return it to them.... stick it to the next parked patrol car i see. :)

Re:Yes, but... (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592027)

They probably use the same batteries they use for lojacks.

But yes, finders keepers, imo

Re:Yes, but... (3, Insightful)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592057)

Toss it on the roof of a Penske truck or something! They'll be following it all over the country!

I fucking hate cops. They all believe that if you're in jail that you're guilty, they're only interested in processing cases not justice, and a good majority of cops are just psycho-bullies from grade school who want to shoot a gun.

Mod me down if you want, you'll think differently when you're at the shit end of their crooked stick.

Re:Yes, but... (-1, Flamebait)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592333)

I fucking hate cops. They all believe that if you're in jail that you're guilty, they're only interested in processing cases not justice, and a good majority of cops are just psycho-bullies from grade school who want to shoot a gun.

Yo, dumbass, if you ever read the constitution, you'd know that it's not their place to dispense justice. That's the job of the courts.

Just because you got caught breaking into your high school doesn't mean that cops are crooked. You've had such a hard life. Wah.

Re:Yes, but... (2, Interesting)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592347)

With the price of gas these days, and the fact that the device must weigh something, are they not costing you a little money in gas for you to haul that thing around?

They can argue it's minimal, but then again... If you say it cost you $3 in a week to transport this around, how are they going to dispute that?

And wait, since you are now transporting police property, are you not entitled to be reimbursed at the current mileage reimbursement rate?

Which, by the way, is 50.5 cents per mile, according to the IRS [irs.gov]

Snce you are carrying public property, does this affect your insurance? What if device causes damage (for example coming detached and damaging another vehicle's windshield)? Is that covered by your insurance? Does it make your insurance rate go up? Can you invoice the police department for that?

What if the device is used by a third party against you?

What is the device battery fails and leaks battery fluid and damages your vehicle's paint?

I could go on...

Re:Yes, but... (2, Insightful)

robert899 (769631) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592439)

If they attach it to my car without my permission, doesn't it become MINE to do whatever I want with?

Good question! And if it becomes yours then wouldn't they need a warrant to collect it?

If you have nothing to hide (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24591917)

I don't see the problem.

Re:If you have nothing to hide (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24591985)

Me neither.

Re:If you have nothing to hide (2, Insightful)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592005)

Great! When can I install a webcam inside your house and broadcast it on the internet 24/7?

Re:If you have nothing to hide (1)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592241)

Have you seen the stuff Anonymous Coward posts on here? I for one don't want to see his "inner sanctum."

Re:If you have nothing to hide (1)

Warll (1211492) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592269)

Well I'm free on friday, hows that work with you?

Re:If you have nothing to hide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24592371)

Great! When can I install a webcam inside your house and broadcast it on the internet 24/7?

Does Monday morning work for you?

Re:If you have nothing to hide (4, Insightful)

nickhart (1009937) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592281)

The police and FBI have a long, sordid history of intimidation, harassment and disruption of dissident groups and activists (up to and including murder [wikipedia.org] ). Any state surveillance of people should require a warrant—both to provide some oversight (which isn't much, considering the way some courts like to rubber-stamp these requests [commondreams.org] ) and make a record of the state's activities against its own citizens.

Re:If you have nothing to hide (1)

zerofluidone (1344311) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592373)

Actually - all you have to do is be an atheist in certain parts of this country before they will drive you mad: the cops and ambulances seem to pop out of nowhere. Also, if you have the temerity to leave a politically sensitive job you are also screwed.

Re:If you have nothing to hide (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592309)

That's what I told them about not wearing pants.

Scarier still... (5, Informative)

nebaz (453974) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591927)

If you RTFA, you'll see a poll asking if people approve this tactic. As of right now, 55% do.

Re:Scarier still... (4, Insightful)

vistahator (1330955) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592061)

Remember that 55% were dumb enough to reelect bush in 2004 too.

Nothing to see here... (1, Insightful)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591931)

If they have a warrant, what's the diff? Seems cheaper and better to me. When someone is legitimately suspected of committing a crime, a warrant is able to provide for phone tapping, search of premises, etc.

Re:Nothing to see here... (3, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24591951)

If they have a warrant

They're doing it without a warrant.

Re:Nothing to see here... (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592165)

Who's "they"? I was referring to the bit about the Washington State Supreme Court requiring it.

Re:Nothing to see here... (2, Interesting)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592181)

Even without a warrant I've said it before... The Fourth doesn't cover spying. Anything that is not intrusive goes. I'm sure I'll get a lot of shit for saying that but go back and read the Fourth and you'll understand. The whole point of the Fourth is not to encourage criminals to keep secrets... its to stop police from interrupting law-abiding citizens' lives.

Re:Nothing to see here... (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592265)

The whole point of the Fourth is not to encourage criminals to keep secrets... its to stop police from interrupting law-abiding citizens' lives.

By that argument, a wiretap should not require a warrant. Since obviously if you don't even know about it, it sure ain't 'interrupting' your life.

Re:Nothing to see here... (3, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592267)

Innocent until proven guilty.

The cops don't get to assume guilt and violate anyones 4th amendment rights based on a hunch. That's what warrants are for. They have to present probable cause, based upon sound information and reasoning, satisfactory to a court, prior to violating someone's rights.

Re:Nothing to see here... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592465)

Even without a warrant I've said it before... The Fourth doesn't cover spying.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So you are arguing a specific meaning of the word "secure"? This sounds like the kind of interpretation Hamilton was talking about when he wrote: "I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?"

Re:Nothing to see here... (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592391)

Adding mass to your vehicle has a non-zero fuel cost.

Re:Nothing to see here... (1)

tygt (792974) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592035)

When someone is legitimately suspected

If it's legitimate, they can get a warrant. That's why we require warrants, so that one branch (judiciary) can double-check another branch (executive).

Re:Nothing to see here... (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592099)

If they have a warrant, what's the diff?

I know it's unfashionable to read the article, but would it kill you to at least read the summary?

Re:Nothing to see here... (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592141)

I did, maybe you should reread it...

though the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that a warrant is required.

Re:Nothing to see here... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24592473)

If you weren't such a big shit faced cock sucker, you'd see the summary also states police are doing it regardless of that. Fuck off and die you colostomy bag.

Big Brother Reversi-Reversi? (3, Interesting)

resistant (221968) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592001)

It is to be wondered how the cops would react if a citizen group began to secretly bug cop cars with GPS devices and tiny cameras intended to capture what they do to people in remote or isolated areas or late at night when the cops think no one can or is likely to see them.

Paging David Brin... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592047)

That's the Transparent Society solution, for sure.

Re:Big Brother Reversi-Reversi? (1)

nickhart (1009937) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592397)

In the 60's the Black Panther Party for Self Defense tailed cops and confronted them when they harassed citizens. It was the only way to defend their communities from rampant police brutality and criminal misconduct (as is the only way to deal with bullies). Needless to say, the cops did not like it. I suspect they would not react favorably if they caught one planting GPS devices on their cars (they certainly don't like it when people review them [slashdot.org] ).

Anonymous Coward (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24592011)

It will be used until the tables are turned and the GPS devices are placed on police cars by the "terrorist" or should I say concerned "badguys" taxpayers. Whats next mandatory GPS implanted in your kids, A George Orwell world - Think about it.

free directions? (3, Insightful)

markybob (802458) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592111)

i bet most people wouldnt care if the gps gave them free directions. free gps for everyone!

Re:free directions? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592163)

But all it tells me is to turn left/right at the next donut shop.

Possible scenarios (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24592113)

At 2:44 PM John Doe visited a strip bar, after stopping by an erotic book store....

Or.... at 4:54 John Doe visited a book store specialising in conspiracy oriented books. Security cameras and credit card transactions acquired by warrantless NSA surveillance show leaving with David Icke books. John Doe then visits local Dennis Kucinich campaign headquarters. Flag as national security threat for possible detention without habeas corpus, speedy trail by jury, charges, evidence or right to legal representation, and for indefinite incarceration and water boarding at Guantanamo Bay.

This is NOT news! (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592129)

They have been doing this for over 10 years.

Its not evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24592155)

These things might help an investigation, but the data could not be used as evidence. How could they prove that someone didn't pull the device off the car it was planted on and carry it around for a while?

The cruel irony of increasing surveillane tactics (2, Insightful)

lambosv21 (1331897) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592189)

For me, the problem is that surveillance is initially presented as a solution to a problem, such as the example used in the article. As time progresses we dont think of protecting our own interests because there is a degree of selfishness involved in how we assume that we wont be affected, because we dont cause trouble. However as time has shown, some of these tactics/developments begin to overlap with the ability for others to make use of the information provided by it. i.e. the conveniece of credit cards and the ultimate exploitation of people racking up debt and paying interest. Furthermore the subsequent rfid chips which are now penetrating the market and making our lives so much easier. I dont even have to swipe anymore! Then, take the instance of rfid's being mandatory in every single product carried in a walmart. Well two and two together, now a major company can track what you buy, when you buy it, and your general disposable income habits. To some that may be private information, to others, useful in efficiently providing goods and services when needed. As long as we continue letting the intial idea pass of "its ok since they're using it to fight crime or are making our lives easier" we will continue to relenquish some of the information we once saw as private or personal. If you're ok with police illegally placing them on cars to keep the system "well", without a warrant, then you are stating that you are trusting their judgement in those actions, even if it means something different to them down the line.

This is illegal search, requires warrant (3, Insightful)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592277)

It is quite clear that this tracking indeed is search for which a warrant is required under the constitution. This is a type search which was not envisioned at the time the founders wrote the constitution and far more more dangerous and frightening than they likely imagined. They are spinning in their graves for certain. We are seeing grave risks to the very threat to our freedom by tyranny, worse than what the founders of the US had feared. The way everything people can do can be monitored tracked and then data mined would have shocked and deeply disturbed them if they were alive to see this. We should be very concerned about these dangerous trends.

On-Star Already Does (2, Interesting)

LowlyWorm (966676) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592283)

As I understand it, GM has been installing On-Star in all their verticals for some time. On-Star has GPS capabilities and also transmits audio. Since no one forces one to use the technology (one could cut the wires etc.) I don't think a warrant would be required in those cases.

Link? (2, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592323)

one could cut the wires etc.

I'm interested if anybody has information on how to do this. Actually, I'd rather co-opt their CDMA hands-free speakerphone for my own use, but I don't know how to get an ESN off it or implement dialing. Bluetooth FTW.

Re:On-Star Already Does (1)

ya really (1257084) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592355)

As I understand it, GM has been installing On-Star in all their verticals for some time

It's a good thing I only bought a horizontal from them. I've heard the diagonal models are still safe as well, but for how long?

Kojak the lojack (1)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592363)

If I add my GPS tracker to a GPS to find out who is using GPS on me, when it leaves my car, I am simply acting to investigate something on my property and if it turns out that it is a stalker, I am justified. In any case, if it is in my possession it seems it would be mine to do what I please with. I hardly think planting things in my pocket constitutes theft by my action.

Darwin for dumb criminals (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592393)

Assuming the proper warrant is in place, this will catch stupid criminals.

The smart ones are aware of this technology and will use it to their advantage. Find the gizmo on your car. As long as you are just running (legal) errands, leave it there. When you go out to make your midnight connection, you relocate it to a friend's (or stranger's) vehicle headed to another location. When you are done with your business, you recover the unit and stick it back on your own car. The cops have a record of you traveling to one location while you are doing business elsewhere. Instant alibi.

mod Up (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24592457)

Any GPS signal detectors out there? (1)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592461)

Let me preface this by saying I'm not a drugrunner, sexual predator, money launderer, etc. However, does any company sell a GPS signal detector that could be used to determine if a signal is coming from your car? Some sort of little box that would light up or spike a needle if such a signal was found... Now, I know that there are a lot of vehicles emitting GPS signals, so it would have to look for a very localized signal.

Of course, such a device in the hands of a criminal would easily tip them off if/when they are being tracked by the police. That person could then take the appropriate counter-measures to throw off the investigation...

Tracking Devices and the Fourth Amendment (5, Interesting)

OakLEE (91103) | more than 6 years ago | (#24592471)

Alright, having just written a legal brief on the subject, I'll explain the legal rationale behind these rulings so that we can actually have an intelligent debate on this subject.

The Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, only applies when a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the item or information searched or seized.

Here, the information about the person's location is what is being "seized." Thus, the way the debate is framed centers around the question: Does a person have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their location?

Now, the law is pretty clear in some respects. For example, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in your home. Thus, the Fourth Amendment applies, and police need a warrant to track your movements in your home.

On the other hand, you have no expectation of privacy when you travel out in public. This is rather obvious because when you travel in public, everyone around you can see you and knows where you are. Thus, the Fourth Amendment does not apply, and it has been long established law that police can conduct surveillance on anyone in a public area without a warrant. (Note: This is the same basic rationale by which placing cameras on street corners does not violate the Fourth Amendment.)

The Supreme Court has further extended this rationale to apply to electronic tracking devices (e.g., GPS, Triangulation Beacons) used for tracking people in public. The rationale is that as long as the subject is in public, he has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his location.

Thus, the Fourth Amendment does not apply and you have no constitutional protection against police attaching a GPS device to your car. Police can track your car with a GPS locator, provided they break no laws with respect to installing the locator (A non-constitutional issue).

That said, the Supreme Court has left the door open to regulating this type of behavior by police. The majority opinion in U.S. v. Knotts left open the possibility of using "different constitutional principles" to regulate police use of tracking devices if "dragnet type law enforcement practices" developed. Dragnet in this context refers to systematic and coordinated measures for apprehending criminals or suspects.

Thus, presumably one could argue that if the police started using GPS devices in our cell phones to track everyone in a systematic manner, another constitutional principle, like for example the right of privacy, could be applied to find a constitutional ground to prevent it. Whether the Supreme Court chooses to use the dicta in Knotts is of course up to it.

Anyway, that's it, have fun debating.

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