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Court Rejects Warrantless GPS Tracking

kdawson posted about 4 years ago | from the don't-tag-me-bro dept.

Privacy 226

The EFF is trumpeting a victory in a case in which it and the ACLU filed an amicus brief. "The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today firmly rejected government claims that federal agents have an unfettered right to install Global Positioning System (GPS) location-tracking devices on anyone's car without a search warrant. ... The court agreed that such round-the-clock surveillance required a search warrant based on probable cause. ...the court noted: 'When it comes to privacy... the whole may be more revealing than its parts.'"

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Way to block Bush and the Republicans (-1, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33167102)

..... and their plan to track us via our GPS or cellphones. Good job justices.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (4, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 4 years ago | (#33167196)

Just wait until more electric cars are on the road requiring some type of toll or other form of tracking so that people can be sent "use taxes/road taxes" since folks aren't fueling up with liquid fuels that are normally taxed for this purpose. Then if they want to know where you've been, it's just a sopeana away. Or more than likely, the laws will be written to where all law enforcement has to do is file a request of information.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1, Informative)

Hylandr (813770) | about 4 years ago | (#33167392)

Then ride a bicycle.

- Dan.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (2, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33167504)

I think your complaint is driven by paranoia.

First off, we're giving massive tax rebates for buying one of those, and for good reason. They eliminate almost all of the bad things that gasoline combustion causes. Which obviates the need for gasoline taxes, which will still apply to those who drive gasoline vehicles. We'll raise the taxes on them and force them into electric vehicles.

Second, it's much more efficient when the time comes simply to slap a bigger tax on registering a vehicle.

Third, it isn't illegal for the government to collect information about you. It's illegal for law enforcement to pry into information about you when it doesn't have probable cause that you are committing a crime. No matter who has the information or how it was collected.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (4, Informative)

BassMan449 (1356143) | about 4 years ago | (#33167710)

Gas taxes have nothing to do with "the bad things" about gasoline. Gas taxes are what is used to maintain the roads. A large part of the states Transportation budget comes from the revenue collected through gas taxes.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (4, Insightful)

AltairDusk (1757788) | about 4 years ago | (#33167822)

I don't think you understand what the gas tax is used for. It is there to help pay for the maintenance of the roads and highway system, electric cars do not obviate the need for road maintenance. Hijacking it to push a public policy agenda is a mistake I'm not going to get into here (too far off topic). Increasing the registration tax to cover the maintenance needs places a greater portion of the burden on those who don't drive very far compared to the current method, the gas tax is not perfect for this either but those who use the roads more do pay more on average.

As far as the government holding information about you, remember that knowledge can just as easily be used to your detriment as it can to your benefit. As history shows us, trusting the government to always do the right thing doesn't tend to work out so well.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33167934)

Simple registration tax cost based on odometer mileage solves this problem.

Increasing gasoline taxes to reflect its externalities is as close to a free market solution as we can realistically get.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 4 years ago | (#33167856)

You had me up until your last argument contradicted itself, otherwise you have very valid points.

Let's say that the government is collecting data on you. They know you bought a huge amount of diesel fuel, say you have some land and had a stump you were going to burn out. A few days later you purchase a large amout of fertilizer for revamping your garden or yard. You don't think some branch of law enforcement would knock on your door?

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (2, Informative)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 4 years ago | (#33167880)

Think about it. Right now people are taxed @ ~$.20 - $.30 cents a gallon in fuel taxes that in most states is already figured into the list price of the gas at pump. And gasoline taxes don't go to pay for cleaning up the environment. They go to building/maintaining roads (or at least that what the politicos say...whether it does or not is another debate)

Very few people think about the fact that the gallon of gas is really $2.30 plus $.25 in tax. No, they just see $2.55, pump and go. The cost of the tax is hidden to most peoples eyes. So they pay $3 - $5 every time they fill up their tank in taxes x number of times per month without even thinking about it. Probably amounts to $700 - $1000 per driver per year depending on the type of car and number of miles driven.

Well if suddenly you're asking those people to fork over $1000 at one time when they go to register the car, you're going to really piss people off when they see it in one lump sum. Voters won't go for it because suddenly they see it as another big chunk of tax. Yes, they were paying about the same before, but at $5 a pop, they never paid any attention to it before. But when you have to write a check for 4 figures, suddenly people notice.

Hence, if you replace that fuel tax with a "road use tax" via tolls or GPS tracking of how much you drove and split those bills up into a monthly tab at $30 - $50 per month, then people once again start to consider a monthly bill just like their utilities, cell phone, etc. and less as a "tax". Plus this method also gives the government the ability to place a tracking device on your car. The republican voting base likes it because it can be used to track "evil people" (Terrorist/Gangs/Drug Dealers/Child Molesters/Commies/whomeverisevilatthemomet). The Democratic base likes it because it can be used to tax people, especially people driving a lot of miles. Because those electric cars are going to be powered predominately by coal for the next 20 - 25 years.

I volunteered in college for a couple state reps/senators and a US congressmen. And we were having this very same discussion only replace electric cars with natural gas powered cars back then. They did pass a "a natural gas powered car costs you $600 per year to register." Even that was enough of a turn off to keep all but the proponents of such technology from converting their vehicle to propane/LNG.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33167960)

Registration can easily be taxed monthly with some months using estimates and other months requiring an odometer reading which is verified come inspection time. Simple enough and no $1000 lump sum fees.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167592)

it's just a sopeana away.

Look, it's subpoena...or if you insist on using the Americanized form which is so ugly that most Americans don't even use it, subpena.

Sopeana sounds like a Mexican pastry.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 4 years ago | (#33167878)

+5 Funny AC for making a sopapilla pun.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167850)

This is why when they asked me this in the survey I said, 'mileage tax' (based on odometer readings every year or so). I can see how taxing based on using certain roads would be an advantage, but is way to open to this kind of abuse.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33167900)

Why not just tax the odometer mileage when you do the registration?

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (2, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | about 4 years ago | (#33167914)

This isn't hard to do with existing technology, GPS not required. Just require drivers to purchase those transmitters and put up readers along the road. Like a toll, it will tell you who drove by what.

In Maine, it was called TransPass for a while now EasyPass which works all the way down to Florida, with some pockets of resistance here and there.

Yes, as alternative fuel cars proliferate, the gas tax won't work. I predict that the government will increasingly tax truckers first, for various reasons. Then the excise tax on alt fuel cars will skyrocket, and eventually you will report your odometer reading and calculate a tax based on that. If you underreport the odometer, you will pay for it when you sell the vehicle. If you scrap the vehicle, you will pay then, or when you buy a replacement. Makes sense, as gas tax is essentially a tax on mileage, though I pay more for my Explorer than you do for your Prius, and I'm not sure the 'damage' I do to the roads is proportionally worse than what you do. Truckers have always paid higher fuel taxes on that premise alone.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (5, Insightful)

Garrett Fox (970174) | about 4 years ago | (#33167220)

You've noticed that Bush is out of office now, right? The new guy hasn't exactly shut down attempts to spy on us. He also supports Bush's warrantless wiretapping policy, one of Bush's most constitutionally questionable decisions.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167272)

Don't use logic on these people. It'll fail every time.

The bottom line is that for as "liberal" as Obama is coming off it makes me wonder how fucked we really are. the Tea Party has too much NeoCon blood in it to bring the GOP back around. The love affair continues on with the current idiot in the Whitehouse... Civil rights abuses are going to be winked at for generations if something isn't done in the next 2 or 3 election cycles.

We're really fucked.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33167700)

Don't confuse what Obama is doing with what Bush did.

Bush committed a crime by suborning those illegal wiretaps.

Obama is trying to avoid having to prosecute Bush and his administration for that crime, and to avoid having the government sued over what Bush did.

But when it comes right down to it, and he can't avoid it, that's what will happen. And it won't be Obama's fault.

Enjoy your healthcare.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 4 years ago | (#33167950)

The Obama administration is continuing the practices. Stop apologizing for them. It is not necessary.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (3, Interesting)

rgviza (1303161) | about 4 years ago | (#33167402)

They're still bamboozled and think that "change" meant change as in "different".

They still think that democrats are different than republicans in some way.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167734)

I'm with you 100%

If Bush has a D after his name, yet did everything exactly the same, they would be calling him FDR.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33168038)

FDR's top marginal rate, 94% on all income over $200,000, was cut to 86.45%, does that sound like W or any recent president?

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33167568)

>>>You've noticed that Bush is out of office now, right?

Yeah I know. In fact the idea to track us via GPS or our cellphones didn't come from Bush. It came from Obama who is just as bad.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167758)

You've noticed that Bush is out of office now, right? The new guy hasn't exactly shut down attempts to spy on us. He also supports Bush's warrantless wiretapping policy, one of Bush's most constitutionally questionable decisions.

WHOOSH

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (5, Informative)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | about 4 years ago | (#33167238)

Huh? Where are the Democrats fighting for privacy? This isn't aisle issue, it's an establishment issue. They all support warrantless wiretapping and every other form of privacy intrusion.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (3, Insightful)

Xaositecte (897197) | about 4 years ago | (#33167388)

I think the point is that, during the Bush years, democrats were loading bemoaning Bush's wiretapping plans and whatnot, with the implicit idea that they wouldn't have done the same in his place. Now that it's happening, they're revealed as a bunch of hypocrits.

Not that this surprises me in the slightest mind you.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (3, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 4 years ago | (#33167458)

And a similar point could be made of right-wingers. As long as it was a right-wing administration they were just fine with warrantless wiretapping. Now? They're outraged!

What it really exposes is that partisans are hypocrites regardless of party or ideology.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167582)

Bush right wing? He's not as left as Obama but he's pretty close. You're just confused by the useless (R) next to his name on TV.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 4 years ago | (#33167688)

Yeah Bush is a right-winger. The idea that bush is 'to the left' or a 'liberal' is an invention of other right wingers as a way to excuse what they supported for 8 years.

Look at the policies Bush supported and tell me with a straight face that any of it was liberal, or left wing. Good luck.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 4 years ago | (#33167904)

Left and right are relative positions. There is no objective centre. Rather, pretty much everybody considers themselves central, moderate, and judges everybody else relative to that. From where the AC is sitting, Bush might well have been left-wing. We all pretty much know where Bush was politically, so the posting actually tells us about the AC's position.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (3, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | about 4 years ago | (#33168008)

And Obama's policy on wiretaps and surveillance is left-wing? There's not a nickel's worth difference between them. this is not Left v Right, Republicans v Democrats, it is Us v Them.

You're losing this argument.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 4 years ago | (#33168118)

Obama is proving to be another center-right Democrat. It amuses me hearing Republicans call him a socialist, when his policies look more like what Reagan enacted. His "evil socialist" healthcare plan is basically the Republican health care plan from 1994, that they introduced to counter Clinton's plan.

I'm not sure how I'm losing an argument. I never claimed Obama was a liberal, or left wing... What I did state was that Bush was a right-winger, which he is.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33168066)

They are both far right, corporatist is what they are. It is a fringe rightist movement that seeks to blend the corporation and the state into one device ruled for the profit of the wealthy.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 4 years ago | (#33168192)

I don't disagree with that assessment. I slammed Bush, so ppl immediately assume I'm a Democratic fanboy. The Republicans and Democrats are both corporatist parties. In other words, fascist. By that I take the meaning that Mussolini gave for fascism: The merging of state and corporate power.

Right now we have no viable alternative. The Teabaggers aren't it. Most of those people are just Republican activists trying to push us even further to the right.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 4 years ago | (#33167760)

I'm right wing and I was outraged at most of Bushes stuff.

I spoke up plenty.

Who the fuck are you to be talking shit? You don't know the difference between neo-conservatism and conservatism.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1, Flamebait)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 4 years ago | (#33168054)

It's funny. Lately I've heard more and more conservatives make the claim that they were pissed off with Bush, and outraged at what he did, back when he was president. Yet I still retain a memory, and I lived through the Bush administration. Where were you guys when it mattered?

You might be in that 1% group of conservatives that were outraged, but as a majority, right wingers went along with everything Bush did. Bush had screwed up enough by 2004 that he deserved to be voted out, and yet there was no big counter movement in conservative circles against him. I don't remember any tea-party railing against his economically devastating policies.

You should also settle down about people "talking shit" (as if my comment was directed right at you), as you follow it up with a lazy insult pointed directly at me.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 4 years ago | (#33168076)

Yes. Remember, 'neocon' is a term invented by a leftist, and as a perjorative. No one I consider a Conservative uses that term in any other fashion, and certainly not about themselves. The Left and the uncommitted use it.

You can try and deny it, but the truth is obvious for anyone who cares to look into it. It is a common political tactic to try and define your opposition in either the least-favorable light, or into an untenable position. All sides use it.

Re:Way to block Bush and the Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33168064)

Just like members of the right wing of the Republican party has suddenly become fiscal conservatives....
It has nothing to do with being fiscal conservatives, it has to do with where all the borrowed money is being laundered - er, I mean spent.

So just use cops (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167104)

And they'll just tail you night and day, just as if they had a GPS on your car, and they won't need a warrant.

How is this about my online rights, exactly?

Re:So just use cops (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 4 years ago | (#33167168)

Thus increasing the cost, meaning they won't do it.

Re:So just use cops (5, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#33167288)

And they'll just tail you night and day, just as if they had a GPS on your car, and they won't need a warrant.

How is this about my online rights, exactly?

That takes manpower. That's not something you can do willy nilly. They'll be damn sure the person is a suspect before doing that.

Tackers can put be on a bunch of cars and automatically monitored for viewing later at cops leisure.

Meaning the GPS trackers can be used as a dragnet - let's put one on a bunch of folks' cars and see what we find regardless if they're a suspect or not. Cops then see what they think is suspicious and create a story around it (intentional or not) and now innocent guy is a suspect for a crime in the imaginations of the cops. Or innocent guy just happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and innocent guy is now in a bunch a legal trouble.

Re:So just use cops (4, Insightful)

scorp1us (235526) | about 4 years ago | (#33167634)

One of the assumptions we deal with, or rather fail to deal with, is we assume the government has "better things to do". We may be small fry, but there is an enabling going on. You're only small fry until you've pissed someone off for whatever lawful reason. (Disagreements happen even when both parties are being lawful).

Out west, they think "Washington is so far away" but really they aren't anymore.
We think GPS-tracking is based on public information....

But all these ideas are based on the assumption that the government has better people to go after. Having a limited resource like man power, assures the biggest offenders are handled first, and on down the line to the jay-walker. But as computers can work 24/7/365, and never forgets, and technology gets cheaper, the force of the law gets more prevalent.

Given enough information, you can identify a person at a crosswalk, using the intersection cameras and mail them a fine. If it gets in the mail soon enough, it'll be at their house before they get home.

So historically speaking there is a notion of "scope" or "reach" (as typified by "long arm of the law"). As we get more technology, it becomes easier to become a victim of government. Even if they don't act on what they know about you (cost-benefit) they can still use it at a later date. Most of us I am sure have some unflattering FBI files, collected opportunistically. Drunken Facebook postings and blog posts, its all there to be compiled and added to your dossier...

Re:So just use cops (1)

AhabTheArab (798575) | about 4 years ago | (#33168010)

Given enough information, you can identify a person at a crosswalk, using the intersection cameras and mail them a fine. If it gets in the mail soon enough, it'll be at their house before they get home

Why bother with mail at that point? Modify already existing red light cameras to be able to view crossing pedestrians. When jay walking or some other crime is detected, automatically cross reference with facial recognition databases and email the offender a notification to pay a civil fine before they're even done crossing the street.

No, I'm not saying this will be happening in the near future or that anybody within government is trying to make this happen now, I'm simply stating the possibility of it. And as you said, the more ubiquitous the enabling technology becomes, the more likely it will be implemented (for your safety of course).

Re:So just use cops (4, Insightful)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | about 4 years ago | (#33167712)

I think there are two other factors to consider as well that make GPS tracking bad.

A GPS would be able to track you while on private property, a ranch maybe, a couple of agents couldn't do that so in such a case a GPS is more invasive of a person privacy.

Another factor is if someone else drove the car that had the GPS attached, they would be tracked even though they are not "a person of interest". This would be problematic if you tried to use a GPS track of someones car to place a specific person at a location at any time.

In regards to Police, in their minds EVERYONE is guilty of something and its their job to catch you, and they feel its alright to use every trick in the book to get you to say something they can use against you.

Remember its "Anything you say can and will be used used against you".

Interesting to Watch. [youtube.com]

Re:So just use cops (2, Interesting)

mldi (1598123) | about 4 years ago | (#33167414)

1) You can lose the cops
2) Cops need to sleep
3) There's not a detailed electronic record of every movement
4) Not cost effective
5) Cops hate it

It's quite a bit different. Not to mention that cops tailing your car doesn't fall under the category of "electronic surveillance", and so it isn't part of the slippery slope.

Re:So just use cops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167842)

How is this about my online rights, exactly?

It's called "Your Rights Online", not "Your Online Rights". There is a reason for that, and that reason is plain to anyone who is not savagely retarded.

Re:So just use cops (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 4 years ago | (#33167888)

And they'll just tail you night and day, just as if they had a GPS on your car, and they won't need a warrant.

You are right, but that means they need enough cops in order to get 24/7 coverage. Which means that a single cop who is looking to get something on me for some personal grudge can't do it all on his own, he has to get someone far enough up the chain of command to authorize all that manpower involved. Not only that, that much expenditure of manpower over any length of time is going to be noticed by the politicians holding the purse strings. Yes, it is still possible for a person in the right place to abuse the system to persecute thier enemies, but it reduces the number of people who are in that position.

I'm still curious (3, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | about 4 years ago | (#33167116)

What happens if you find such a device on your car? Sure, you can call the police because there's a suspicious item on your car (which may be dangerous!! what if it exploded?) but do you think they would say something like "oh no, that's ours!" -- or could they tell you to leave it there?

What happens when you run a packet dump and notice a government spyware program? whee! ...

Re:I'm still curious (4, Funny)

casings (257363) | about 4 years ago | (#33167208)

If it wasn't secured to your car with duct tape, you can probably be pretty sure it wasn't done by the police.

Re:I'm still curious (4, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33167218)

Look, I know that IT professionals get stereotyped as the guys who ruin peoples lives by either making their work a living hell with Windows Updates breaking every application - or by exposing some personal emails that shouldn't have been sent on your work outlook account, or even by neglecting to upgrade you off of that old Windows NT box.

But really, how bad does it have to get before you start suspecting that someone might have planted an explosive on your car?

Re:I'm still curious (1, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 4 years ago | (#33167244)

Most drivers I know in Chicago willfully place such devices in their windshields for paying tolls. I know they aren't GPS yet, but probably future versions will be and people will use them and sign away on whatever forms in the name of connivence.

Re:I'm still curious (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33167454)

>>>I know they aren't GPS yet, but probably future versions will be

How do you know that? The current gadgets are actually quite dumb, because it keeps them cheap to handout for free. Converting them to a GPS device would be about 20 times more costly, as well as requiring an external power plug, so I think your prognostication is wrong.

Re:I'm still curious (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 4 years ago | (#33168040)

Ever driven in Chicago? How much does it cost for the city/county/state to install and upkeep all those scanning stations on the roads. How much would it cost in the future when most cars sold today already have GPS standard and ability to access the cell network? What do you think OnStar is?

Re:I'm still curious (1)

bennomatic (691188) | about 4 years ago | (#33167474)

In the Chicago area, with the number of toll booths on the road, those devices might as well be GPS, as your passes through those booths are tracked with a time stamp, so anyone with access knows where you were and when. I've heard (but not validated) that you can actually get a speeding ticket mailed to you if you go from checkpoint A to checkpoint B faster than the speed limit, assuming there's no traffic at the far end to slow you down enough.

Re:I'm still curious (0, Troll)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 4 years ago | (#33167496)

Most drivers I know in Chicago willfully place such devices in their windshields for paying tolls. I know they aren't GPS yet, but probably future versions will be and people will use them and sign away on whatever forms in the name of connivence.

You know new cars are mandated to have wireless tire pressure monitoring systems from the factory, right? And each tire has a globally-unique MAC?

It's to save the planet, you know, not so they can keep tabs on all cars moving past discreetly-placed antennas.

Re:I'm still curious (1)

fotbr (855184) | about 4 years ago | (#33167716)

But there's nothing that says those systems have to remain in place. If you're that paranoid about it, you can fix that in your garage: it's not terribly hard to remove, remount, and re-balance a tire, and the sensors are just stuck to the inside of the wheel with some 3M double-stick tape.

Re:I'm still curious (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 4 years ago | (#33167986)

You know new cars are mandated to have wireless tire pressure monitoring systems from the factory, right? And each tire has a globally-unique MAC?

Its a short range transmitter.

Far more frightening is the reflective metal plate bearing a registered unique series of numbers and digits that all cars are mandated to have attached to the vehicle in plain sight. These plates can be seen and read at considerable distance, and can be trivially traced to the registered owner. Over the last couple decades reliable electronic means of reading this information off of fast moving vehicles has become commonplace.

Its a fairly short hop from there to having a city wide network of camera's tracking every vehicle they see.

But hey, stay focused on the Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, I'm sure that's the bigger threat. :p

Re:I'm still curious (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167576)

I used to installed GPS tracking devices for the Feds - so I can help you out. These devices are very rarely deployed - fairly expensive and time consuming, even w/o the warrant, which most Agencies have required as a matter of policy anyway for the last ten years. Yeah, sometimes the Feds anticipate rulings like this and do more than required so they won't lose evidence on appeal. Get over it. If you find one on your vehicle - you've earned it - and you won't be scratching your head as to why. Either you've been REAL busy doing some fairly bad stuff or your car is routinely used by others to do so. Knowing who was in the tracked vehicle (if the GPS records are simply being logged and downloaded) is a problem - so you're probably under physical surveillance too and the box is just to reel you back in if you get beyond visual range. Yeah, you can take it off, throw it away, turn it in at the local cop shop - you can even put it someone else' car. Won't matter - you'll soon be in line for an upgrade - that you WON'T find. And as for detecting .gov spyware with your packet sniffer. Good luck with that.

Re:I'm still curious (2, Informative)

PPH (736903) | about 4 years ago | (#33167580)

What happens if you find such a device on your car?

You leave it there for a while. So they get used to the fact that they can trace your movements. When they are comfortable with tracking you, you remove it and stick it on a cop car. Then you call a friend and tell him that the deal will go down 'at the usual place this afternoon'.

So the ATF, DEA or whomever mounts an assault on Li'l Johns Bar and Grill, where most of the local cops hang out all day.

Re:I'm still curious (2, Funny)

toastar (573882) | about 4 years ago | (#33167612)

What happens if you find such a device on your car? Sure, you can call the police because there's a suspicious item on your car (which may be dangerous!! what if it exploded?) but do you think they would say something like "oh no, that's ours!" -- or could they tell you to leave it there?

What happens when you run a packet dump and notice a government spyware program? whee! ...

I wouldn't report it, I'd attach it to the nearest taxi.

Re:I'm still curious (5, Interesting)

Caerdwyn (829058) | about 4 years ago | (#33167618)

A long while ago (about 1996) I noticed unusual traffic coming in to my hobbyist server. Things that nowadays are just part of the background noise: port scans, SYNs to nonexistant hosts (I had a /28 block on a fractional T1. NerdPeen ACTIVATE!), that sort of thing. The source IP address in question then crawled my website and connected to my SMTP server and sent mail to itself (wisdom such as "don't be an open relay" was not widespread at the time... my diagnosic skills were better than my security skills at the time).

A few nslookups and whois later, and a traceroute or two, and I was at Langley. Huh. Was someone there doing something? Or was it spoofed in some way? It's not like I had ever done anything interesting in my life other than flip a significantly-non-stock VW Rabbit onto its roof and host a website for friends to post their dirty pictures. Hmmm, maybe that was it. 007 wanted pr0n!

A few emails and one phone call later and I was talking to an instructor at Langley who was teaching basic network forensics. He said they were choosing random domains then learning what they could about them and presenting that knowledge as a classroom exercise, and apologized if their was any disruption; he said it was only an attempt to do basic recon of non-NATted networks, not penetration (insert joke here). My response was something to the effect of "OK, no problem, I understand. But... I noticed . I shouldn't have. And I'm a total amateur at this. If your students are going to be able to do their jobs, they need to be less obvious about it."

If you find a BatBug on your car, the cops need to know of their incompetence. Then send it to Gizmodo!

Re:I'm still curious (1)

selven (1556643) | about 4 years ago | (#33167780)

I'm pretty sure it's legally yours to do whatever you want with it. I suggest you attach it to a pigeon.

Re:I'm still curious (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 4 years ago | (#33167954)

What happens if you find such a device on your car?

I don't know about you, but I'd probably pull it off and attach it to the nearest semi going across the country. Or maybe a squirrel.

And then install a jammer just in case they try it again with a bug that's harder to spot. Maybe even generate a fake GPS stream showing that the vehicle was at 30,000 feet, traveling at Mach 7, over the northern coast of Ecuador.

Oh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167124)

Shit

aw (2, Insightful)

Phizital1ty (1755648) | about 4 years ago | (#33167148)

I was hoping i could play spot the gps tracker with my friends, or also my other favorite, Who wants to faraday the bottom of their car!?

Re:aw (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167562)

Actually, your GPS is in your pocket.

Re:aw (1)

nizo (81281) | about 4 years ago | (#33167644)

Someone needs to plunk a few of these GPS units onto several elected offical's cars and post the results. Hilarity is sure to ensue.

Nice one (2, Interesting)

JackSpratts (660957) | about 4 years ago | (#33167166)

Go EFF!

Re:Nice one (3, Funny)

Flea of Pain (1577213) | about 4 years ago | (#33167430)

Yes sir! Right away sir! I will start EFFing as soon as I see the opportunity sir!

Re:Nice one (1)

JackSpratts (660957) | about 4 years ago | (#33167728)

i see a promotion in your future.

Re:Nice one (1)

Nick Number (447026) | about 4 years ago | (#33167830)

How about now?

After all, it is about EFFing time.

So far so good. (4, Interesting)

Local ID10T (790134) | about 4 years ago | (#33167206)

Lets see how this goes on appeal.

This is the kind of issue that winds up before the supreme court. It is simple, and obvious, but somebody is going to argue it to their last breath.

Re:So far so good. (1, Redundant)

dnaumov (453672) | about 4 years ago | (#33167240)

But, but, but, but... "National Security!!!"

Re:So far so good. (1, Redundant)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33167258)

And "The Children!"

Re:So far so good. (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about 4 years ago | (#33167516)

If we don't track people, TERRORISTS will KIDNAP your KIDS and use DRUGS to turn them into GAY SUICIDE BOMBERS!

Re:So far so good. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33167750)

...who use the Computers, because the bible says that computers are the BEAST! ...and listen to that heathen rap music by Marylin Manson!

Re:So far so good. (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | about 4 years ago | (#33168130)

Well at least they aren't making them listen to Ke$ha...

Re:So far so good. (2, Funny)

localman57 (1340533) | about 4 years ago | (#33167920)

If we don't track people, TERRORISTS will KIDNAP your KIDS and use DRUGS to turn them into GAY SUICIDE BOMBERS!

Or worse yet, they might share music. Oh, think of the artists! What will the poor artists do if we don't track people?

Re:So far so good. (1)

Kashell (896893) | about 4 years ago | (#33167518)

And "Freedom!"

Re:So far so good. (2, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33167806)

If it really is a national security issue, all bets are off.

But it probably isn't. It's the Bush administration's legal stink-bombs gumming up the future, just as they were planned to do.

We waste our time and money and attention trying to remove the rotting fish from the walls, while he and his buddies are laundering the money they looted from our safe.

Re:So far so good. (3, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | about 4 years ago | (#33167798)

Lets see how this goes on appeal.

You know, when I read the headline, I expected ninth circuit. I mean, I'd be shocked if this decision had come out of the 4th or 5th, but even the D.C. circuit coming to that conclusion is a bit surprising, IMHO. It's not exactly a bastion of liberalism or civil liberties.

What's particularly baffling is that the ninth actually went the other way. So it's almost certainly a sufficiently contentious issue to get certiorari. I'll be interested to see the appeal, too. It seems clear that warrantless GPS tracking could be easily abused, and that the relatively low cost and effort involved makes it a fairly significant escalation of police surveillance. On the flip side, one could legitimately argue that anything you do in a vehicle is done in a public place and that you have no expectation of privacy. So it's definitely not clear cut either way.

I would tend to err on the side of requiring a warrant, particularly given that it is a relatively low bar and given that there is minimal chance of the decision to plant a GPS device being so time critical that a warrant could not be reasonably obtained. And if we see warrantless GPS tracking used in a sufficiently widespread way, there is substantial risk that people will employ countermeasures to jam GPS signals in and around their vehicles. The resulting mess would endanger public safety. So it is important that GPS tracking be very limited. Requiring a warrant does this. Without requiring a warrant, the temptation is too great to use GPS as a crutch in place of proper surveillance, which in the long run would be seriously detrimental to society.

Re:So far so good. (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | about 4 years ago | (#33168078)

I highly doubt the Supreme Court will hear the case.

To the best of my knowledge, there are not a plethora of conflicting lower court rulings on the issue. And while there is a constitutional question to be answered, I don't see it as wildly different than other cases they have decided such that it needs a separate ruling. These are the major criteria that the justices use to determine whether or not to hear the case.

Just because you are technically able to appeal up to them does not mean they will grant your petition for certiorari. In fact, about 98% of requests are not granted and their cases are unheard.

"government claims" (2, Interesting)

artg (24127) | about 4 years ago | (#33167236)

So who, exactly, wanted to assert this right ? Names, please, not agencies.

Re:"government claims" (2, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 4 years ago | (#33167276)

Eventually it will be *DOT (with the * being your state). Got to come up with some way of taxing electric car users to use the road if they aren't paying for it in fuel taxes.

Re:"government claims" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167328)

Battery taxes...

Re:"government claims" (0, Flamebait)

robot256 (1635039) | about 4 years ago | (#33167668)

Wait, you mean fuel taxes pay for roads? What fuel taxes? Oh, you mean the absurdly low $0.46/gal (26.2c state + 18.4 fed.) [wikipedia.org] that doesn't change with the price of gas and accounts for $20 billion (fed. portion of $29.6b total) [thenewspaper.com] out of $40 billion [dot.gov] of federal highway spending? I don't think the electric cars are going to make that much difference--they aren't even *trying* to make gas taxes actually pay for all the roads in the country.

Re:"government claims" (2, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 4 years ago | (#33168144)

When was the last time you saw a toll road go away after the 10/15/20 years period where the road was to be "paid off"? Same reason why the states will find a way to replace the revenue generated by a fuel tax for "roads".

Re:"government claims" (2, Insightful)

Aboroth (1841308) | about 4 years ago | (#33167300)

It was just "The Government". You know, that undefined blob of mental mass that you can blame everything on and assign as the cause and/or solution to all of yours and the world's problems.

Re:"government claims" (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33167492)

You know, that undefined blob of mental mass that you can blame everything on and assign as the cause and/or solution to all of yours and the world's problems.

You are just lining yourself up for a "Your Mom" joke, by the way.

Re:"government claims" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167626)

that's what SHE said.

Re:"government claims" (0, Offtopic)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#33167692)

Stan: Oh my God! They killed Kenny!
Kyle: You BASTARDS!

Re:"government claims" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167508)

So who, exactly, wanted to assert this right ? Names, please, not agencies.

I have no idea why you care. The appelle is "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" aka the government, but here you go: [uscourts.gov]

Peter S. Smith, Assistant U.S. Attorney, argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief were Roy W. McLeese III, John V. Geise, and Rachel C. Lieber, Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

GPS tracking may be off limits all together. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167424)

IANAL, but I keep an eye on this stuff. In many jurisdictions you can't get a search warrant in order to put a GPS on a car, because a search warrant typically requires "probable cause" to think that a specific, specified crime has been committed, and that evidence of that crime is probable to be found in a search. The warrant then specifically must list what the police are searching for, and where they are allowed to search. There are few cases where the GPS is likely to turn up proof of a specific crime.

The problem with GPS tracking is that it's typically used more for intellegence/surveilance type stuff. You do this before you get a warrant, in order to get enough probable cause to do a search.

In many jurisdictions police use GPS at their own discrection because they see it as equivalent to tailing, but also because they can't get a warrant. Most police are actually pretty good about getting warrants before doing stuff when they can; there's no reason not to, and it makes a case stronger.

Re:GPS tracking may be off limits all together. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 4 years ago | (#33167678)

GPS tracking is more akin to wiretapping or planting bugs. It also requires probable cause and a warrant.

Re:GPS tracking may be off limits all together. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167844)

The difference is that wiretapping or planting bugs can be used to collect evidence about a crime that has already happened. That's exactly what search warrants are for. You can catch a subject on tape talking about what they did. Therefore, it's reasonable to grant probable cause in some cases.

A GPS tracker is is unlikely to be able to uncover evidence about something that already happened. You might be able to make a stretch if you already had some probable cause to think that a person, for instance, committed a murder, and wanted to see if they returned to the murder site. Maybe. But the sort of "Lets see where the drug dealer goes so we can see who he's talking to" is intellegence, not evidence gathering of a specific, specified instance of a crime.

NO Need for Warrantless GPS Tracking +1, PatRIOTic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167564)

Because YOUR CELL PHONE can be tracked !!!!!

Yours In Astrakhan,
K. Trout

Four Freedoms ... updated (1)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | about 4 years ago | (#33167800)

Freedom of speech and expression ... unless what you have to say is politically incorrect

Freedom of religion ... unless it is within walking distance of 'ground zero'.

Freedom from want ... unless you want your job to stay in this hemisphere.

Freedom from fear ... unless you are afraid of surveillance by those who are swarn to protect your freedom.

Wow (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33167870)

An intelligent decision coming from our "Justice" system, I'm shocked. Heres hoping that some higher/appeals court doesn't screw it up. Really, I'm having trouble fathoming how anyone though this was legal by any stretch of the imagination. Trespassing, Stalking, illegal wiretapping (a stretch I know, but if the police can stretch that law to cover up their illegal acts, citizens can use it to protect themselves from overreaching government) are just a few charges I can name off the top of my head. And for the idiots who might say "You're in a public place, you have no right to privacy" I say this, What do you think would happen to a person who started tagging POLICE cars with these devices? That should give you an Idea as to how illegal this is.

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