Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Battle Brews Over FBI's Warrantless GPS Tracking

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the who-watches-the-watchers dept.

Government 259

fysdt writes "The FBI's use of GPS vehicle tracking devices is becoming a contentious privacy issue in the courts, with the Obama administration seeking Supreme Court approval for its use of the devices without a warrant, and a federal civil rights lawsuit targeting the Justice Department for tracking the movements of an Arab-American student. In the midst of this legal controversy, Threat Level decided to take a look at the inside of one of the devices, with the help of the teardown artists at iFixit."

cancel ×

259 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36071696)

can I stick them under cop cars to know when they are near?

Re:so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36071722)

IANAL but my guess would be you would need Supreme Court approval to use such a device without first securing a warrent.

Re:so (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072172)

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of planting these devices without a warrant, someone should arrange to put tracking devices on the cars of all 9 justices. That would probably get the ruling reversed very quickly.

Re:so (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36071818)

This is the answer if you get tagged with a device like this. at night in a obscured location, remove it and install it on someone else car. Preferably a car that is the same color and make.

Re:so (2)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072180)

I'd probably build an EMP generator over the weekend with the kids. "Hey kids, you want to know why your dad's not allowed near the microwave or the toaster?"

Re:so (3, Interesting)

Tx (96709) | more than 3 years ago | (#36071850)

No need to do that, just watch the video feed [theregister.co.uk] from the cop cars instead. Although I suspect in the USA, either could probably get you a jail term.

Re:so (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#36071908)

Drill a hole into the casing, fill the damn thing with butyric acid and seal it again.
Should provide for some fun once those goons try to find out what's wrong with their toy.

Re:so (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072514)

Drill a hole into the casing, fill the damn thing with butyric acid and seal it again.
Should provide for some fun once those goons try to find out what's wrong with their toy.

Well, not only would they get you for mucking about with government property (that you couldn't have known was actually there) ... but, I suspect if you laid such a trap, you might find yourself running afoul of several other laws.

I suspect you might get yourself a couple of felony charges out of the deal.

Throw it away, stick it to another car ... sure, it's a foreign object attached to your car with nothing to indicate it has any official status. But, really, I think if you leave something with acid in it to be "discovered" by these guys you will have likely entered into territory you might live to regret.

God damn Republicans (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36071762)

Damn Republicans passing laws and continuing abuses like this stripping away our rights. . .

Re:God damn Republicans (1)

bsharp8256 (1372285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36071862)

i c wat u did there...

Re:God damn Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072022)

I have mod points and have no idea whether to mod this 'Insightful' or 'Troll'.

Guess I'll just post instead. Someone else's problem now.

Re:God damn Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072144)

Yet the article states "the OBAMA administration seeking use of devices without warrant". Seems the democrats want to strip away your rights too.

Re:God damn Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072208)

WHOOSHHHH!

Re:God damn Republicans (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072446)

Was that a joke flying by or was that a surveillance drone? Kinda hard to tell them apart just by the sound signature.

Re:God damn Republicans (1)

2names (531755) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072596)

Q) What do you call a tracking device placed in a Republican's shoe?

A) A SWOOSH.

Re:God damn Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072226)

Whoosh.

Re:God damn Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072364)

I wonder if the FBI has placed a GPS tracker on that woosh above your head...

Re:God damn Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072648)

In most cases in which laws being passed people contribute to Obama I would disagree in that His portion of the government does not make or pass laws. Considering that this is police action, it does fall onto his lap. But, as Obama can not sign a bill into law (pending it is a limited approval for it in congress), Congress could always threaten to tighten the funding to get it to stop. Sadly, I doubt any of them want to be campaigned against saying that they want to cut funding to police.

Re:God damn Republicans (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072228)

Damn Republicans passing laws and continuing abuses like this stripping away our rights. . .

Yeh, no crap. The difference is, if it WAS a Republican, the media and the left wing would be up in arms...

Now, all we hear are the echos of silences.

Re:God damn Republicans (0, Troll)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072344)

Demublican and Repocrat differ on SOCIAL issues (other than the power of the State when each is in office) and the Second Amendment, but not much else.

Too bad Flight 93 didn't drill Congress. One set of scumbags taking out the other = win.

Re:God damn Republicans (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072416)

Too bad Flight 93 didn't drill Congress. One set of scumbags taking out the other = win.

That was the original plan, but Al-Qaeda was afraid of getting sued by Tom Clancy [wikipedia.org] .

Re:God damn Republicans (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072476)

In seriousness, I think the main reason it didn't happen was more that the passengers on the plane were heroes. Or, that's the most pausible explanaiton to me. :)

Re:God damn Republicans (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072656)

Thats real classy, because you differ with some folks on policy means they should be killed.

Oppression, not violation of privacy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36071806)

Violation of privacy is something committed by a party of equal power to yourself. When government commits injustice, the correct term is oppression. We aren't talking about a nosey neighbor peeking out the window at you, or even a dedicated stalker. We are talking about the organization holding the special right to employ coercion against you as their means -- the most dangerous force that could possibly exist. Needless to say, the situation is completely, utterly different.

Re:Oppression, not violation of privacy (5, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072304)

Be glad you can even do something about it. In the UK all vehicles are tracked all the time by automatic numberplate recognition using images from traffic cameras. They don't have them quite everywhere yet but they are working on that.

It seems that it is easier to get away with oppression if you do it to everyone all the time. The FBI's mistake was to target individuals.

Re:Opprepssion, not violation of privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072316)

Preaching to the choir there boy!

Re:Oppression, not violation of privacy (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072438)

the most dangerous force that could possibly exist.

You don't know the power of the dark side. ;)

If I had a car... (1)

RadiantPhoenix (2029232) | more than 3 years ago | (#36071820)

I would be checking it right now.

Re:If I had a car... (-1, Flamebait)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072036)

and what are you doing that would warrant the FBI's eye, and what are you doing that you do not want law enforcement to know?

Re:If I had a car... (4, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072098)

On the off chance that you weren't being sarcastic: warrants are handed out pretty freely to law enforcement when they can show any semblance of a reason to suspect someone. If it's an emergency, they can be issued retroactively. If the FBI claims the need to track without a warrant, the logical conclusion to draw is that they are tracking at least some people without good reason - if they had good reason, they could get a warrant, after all.

Re:If I had a car... (1)

Choin (2109624) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072182)

I don't want a GPS device on my vehicle without a search warrant. It's tampering with my property [for starters] and an invasion of my privacy. It's a power that's obviously being abused. You would know this if you bothered to read this article.

Re:If I had a car... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072220)

That is a tired argument and a tired saying!

The old "if your not doing anything wrong. . .blah blah blah" statement is an interrogation tactic.
Many soldiers have given everything to maintain your rights.

Now for another tired saying. . . .(and soon to be obosolete with the current mentality)
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

Sigh, after this post I'll have to check my car. . ..

Re:If I had a car... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072246)

Driving to my local NRA meetings...

Irrelevant (5, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072270)

what are you doing that would warrant the FBI's eye

First: who knows? Even if you're not cynical about government convicting or even prosecuting innocent people all the time, surely you admit they investigate innocent people all the time. They have to in order to do their job, rule out suspects, etc. This is why the we try to limit them taking extra more-invasive steps against people to only when they can show they have a good reason. If they only looked at people who are doing things that really warrant their attention, we would assume them to have godlike infallibility and wouldn't even bother with a justice system at all; just have them pass sentence on the bad guys.

But aside from that...

what are you doing that you do not want law enforcement to know?

If it is legal for law enforcement to do this without a warrant, that suggests that legally the activity of putting a bug on someone else's care isn't special; i.e. it is not something that is considered to be a violation of privacy for which we sometimes permit government to do it as part of their rightful monopoly on force. In other words, if government can do this without invoking its special government-y powers, then anyone should be legally allowed to do it.

So your question becomes:

What are you doing that anyone in the world might want to know?

Might the neighborhood burglar like realtime updated reports on when you're home and when you're not? Might your insurance carrier want to know if your daily patterns are outside the median? Might your stalker want to know where you are? Might your ex-wife's private investigator want to know who you're visiting? Might ClearChannel want to know which billboards you drive by most often? And so on. Draw on your paranoia and imagination and I think you'll see that Big Brother is just one of many brothers to be concerned about.

If Just Anyone is not allowed to bug your car, then that suggests it is a special power reserved for government, and you're going to have a hard time arguing it's not a violation of privacy (if it's not, then why can't I bug your car?) or that it doesn't require any sort of balances or limits of power for which the 4th amendment was intended to provide protection.

Re:If I had a car... (5, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072306)

and what are you doing that you do not want law enforcement to know?

Well, drove my car to work on the usually route, parked it at work for the day, drove back home, went to my local petrol station. And all of that I don't want law enforcement to know, because it is none of their f***ing business.

Re:If I had a car... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072348)

Mod +1.

It's BECAUSE I have nothing to hide that I deny you your illegal search and seizure.

Re:If I had a car... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072576)

and what are you doing that would warrant the FBI's eye, and what are you doing that you do not want law enforcement to know?

I'm visiting clients. But one of my competitors (a big national franchise) isn't above slipping a crooked FBI agent a few bucks to track me and give them a list of people I visit.

Re:If I had a car... (1)

rilian4 (591569) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072604)

Doesn't matter what he's doing. The US constitution says the government has no right to invade the privacy of a free citizen w/o a warrant which has to have probable cause and judicial approval. These warrantless trackers are blatantly unconstitutional.

Re:If I had a car... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072124)

How? Apparently even mechanics don't usually find them. There are a LOT of nooks and crannies under your car. The only reason this has really come to light is because of one ridiculously poorly-executed incident where it was hidden very poorly.

Hell, if they knew you would be away for a day (taken any flights recently?), they could take the car apart and hide it in your door or something where no one would EVER find it.

Re:If I had a car... (3, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072300)

The mechanics weren't looking very hard. IAAM (I Am A Mechanic).

Of course the quick way to find trackers would be to use a freq counter with an antenna and scan you car with the car battery disconnected to eliminate any interference from powered automotive circuits.

Time for a cheap open source RF sniffer?

Re:If I had a car... (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072366)

These trackers can probably operate passively. Simply sitting there, collecting location information until an agent with the proper equipment activates it and dumps the data.

So... (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36071898)

Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, we are left...defending our rights from exactly the same threat we faced before. Glad that killing the guy accomplished so much.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36071974)

Osama bin Laden

Who??

I Wonder Why They Would Do That (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#36071904)

Since these days most people carry a GPS unit voluntarily anyway. If you want to watch someone's day-to-day movements, it'd probably be easier to track his cell phone movements than to duct tape a rather obvious unit to the underside of his car.

Re:I Wonder Why They Would Do That (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36071956)

By placing the tracker on the car, they get to use a loophole to track someone. If the car attached GPS had the same requirements as monitoring the GPS device that we carry, they would opt for the one we carry every time.

Re:I Wonder Why They Would Do That (2)

torgis (840592) | more than 3 years ago | (#36071984)

That would involve data from his mobile carrier, which would involve the hassle of going to court and getting a warrant. You know, that whole pesky "due process of law" thing that they used to use for suspected criminals. Much easier to just slap this on someone's car, gather data, and *then* get a warrant. Or use the information for more sinister means. Or whatever you want, really. That's the beauty of warrantless police activities. It's limitless and they're accountable to nobody.

Re:I Wonder Why They Would Do That (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072100)

It's limitless and they're accountable to nobody.

No, they are always accountable to the people. Except it takes something like Egypt or Libya to get rid of them once they gain so much power. But eventually the people always wake up and shake off the yoke when it bothers them too much. It's a repeated lesson throughout human history

Re:I Wonder Why They Would Do That (5, Insightful)

khr (708262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072242)

pesky "due process of law" thing

I was in Pune, India about ten years ago when one police precinct in the city got assigned a new chief inspector. It was the Deccan area, where there's a huge number of colleges and universities.

The newspaper had an interview with the new chief inspector (it was a big deal because she was the first woman in the position) and one of the questions they asked her was what factors complicated policing that precinct. Her answer was "there's a lot of educated people who know their rights."

Not the first time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36071906)

The linked article shows a woefully out of date tracking device. A much more current version of a gps tracker teardown is shown here:

http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPhone-4-Teardown/3130/1

Ebay, Here We Come (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36071910)

I have a rule... "If it comes into my house or my office, I control it.". Since my vehicles come into my house (garage), I control them as well. All I need to do now is find out what the going rate on Ebay is for a GPS tracking device... It's mine baby!

Re:Ebay, Here We Come (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36071976)

Screw that, I would head down the the nearest marina and attach it to someone's boat lol. Or another car.... maybe a truck trailer....

Re:Ebay, Here We Come (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072138)

Too bad for you when you run into a judge who has never heard about your "rule" and decides to throw you in jail for tampering/destroying government property, interfering with an investigation, or whatever else they feel will stick. See your rules don't matter. The only rules that matter are the ones enforced by the government (or the mob).

Re:Ebay, Here We Come (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072484)

OK, so it was a 2011 Bentley. But I was tired of it. So I took it down to the local car recycler and they put the whole car into the crusher. Sorry About that GPS box you folks stuck on it.

Re:Ebay, Here We Come (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072638)

Destruction of government property.

tinfoil hats need not apply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36071914)

Merely looking at this might be reason enough to get a chance for a close-up personal inspection of your own device.
I love my country but fear my government.

Find one? Call it in as a suspected car bomb (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36071932)

Clearly the solution to finding one of these is to report it as a suspected car bomb. After all, if people can decide that a giant Lite-Brite is a bomb [wikipedia.org] then surely a bunch of metal boxes magnetically attached to a car should merit the same level of attention and freak-out...

Re:Find one? Call it in as a suspected car bomb (5, Funny)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072010)

Bomb squad will just come out, evacuate the neighborhood, and blow up your car

Re:Find one? Call it in as a suspected car bomb (1)

CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072034)

Clearly the solution to finding one of these is to report it as a suspected car bomb. After all, if people can decide that a giant Lite-Brite is a bomb [wikipedia.org] then surely a bunch of metal boxes magnetically attached to a car should merit the same level of attention and freak-out...

Getting the bomb squad to blow up your car "safely" is probably not the best way to deal with a GPS tracker.

Re:Find one? Call it in as a suspected car bomb (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072122)

It is if this happens often enough that it becomes inconvenient to society, and the FBI is held accountable for the loss in wages / productivity and the expense of replacing the destroyed vehicles.

Re:Find one? Call it in as a suspected car bomb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072286)

The insurance co would be responsible for replacing it. The FBI would probably laugh at your civil lawsuit, and the inconvience would largely be yours.

Re:Find one? Call it in as a suspected car bomb (1)

darth dickinson (169021) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072444)

...the FBI is held accountable for the loss in wages / productivity and the expense of replacing the destroyed vehicles.

Let us know how that works out for you.

Re:Find one? Call it in as a suspected car bomb (1)

Paul Jakma (2677) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072202)

Where are my mod-points? :)

Re:Find one? Call it in as a suspected car bomb (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072256)

The form factor WOULD make a perfectly reasonable one for a vehicle bomb.

Should be required. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36071950)

The government should mandate the presence of these in all vehicles, and when they become miniaturized enough to the size of a grain of rice, implanted at birth as a prerequisite to being an American citizen. Tracking would be done automatically by a centralized authority and paid for by sharing location information with corporations and advertisers so there is no tax burden to the American people.

Re:Should be required. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072168)

paid for by sharing location information with corporations and advertisers so there is no tax burden to the American people.

Yeah because those corporations just invent the money to pay for ads, right? It's not like the American people are paying for the ads when they buy products from those companies... /sarcasm

Re:Should be required. (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072400)

Don't worry. Universal vehicle GPS tracking is coming [slashdot.org] .

Electronic Counter Measures.... (3, Insightful)

Roskolnikov (68772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36071998)

So would it be ok to place a GPS tracker on every police car you find, I bet not and while betting I bet that if you were caught trying to put such a thing on a police car you would get shot.

My advise on this is quite simple, if you find a little black box, an antenna and a battery pack on the underside of your car, call the local police and tell them you found exactly what you found under your car, a bundle with wires coming out of it (the battery pack) a black box attached to it (the GPS receiver) and an antenna and your afraid to touch it. Make certain your insurance is paid up.

Call the local news as well, its a bomb threat for certain but this is an economics game, they can't afford to follow everyone with agents so its cheaper to track everyone of interest and sort it out later, make this cost them as much as possible, PR spin isn't cheap, nor is replacing GPS devices that keep 'falling' off the car (rip the wires, leave parts of it on the car) at some point it becomes cheaper to either follow you with Agents, or stop following you.

Re:Electronic Counter Measures.... (2)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072440)

PR spin isn't cheap, nor is replacing GPS devices that keep 'falling' off the car (rip the wires, leave parts of it on the car) at some point it becomes cheaper to either follow you with Agents, or stop following you.

Based on what I read in Wired's breakdown, the devices themselves are pretty cheap. Mostly decade old COTS parts with a little custom assembly. The expense would come, as you say, with the cost of sending Agents out to stick another one to your vehicle.

But certainly if I found one of these under my car my first call would be to the police, describing exactly what it is I'm looking at. It might be a GPS tracker, it might be a bomb. I don't know what it is other than it is black, has antennas, and I have no idea why it's been attached to my vehicle. I know how my local police would respond to a call like that, and the news cameras won't be far behind.

Send them on a wild goose chase (4, Funny)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072002)

If I found one of these attached to my car I think I'd simply throw it in a box and mail it somewhere. Perhaps to an FBI office on the other side of the country. Let the FBI blindly trace the path it takes through the USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.

Either that or I'd let a dog run around the neighborhood with it.

Re:Send them on a wild goose chase (2)

dredwerker (757816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072066)

If I found one of these attached to my car I think I'd simply throw it in a box and mail it somewhere. Perhaps to an FBI office on the other side of the country. Let the FBI blindly trace the path it takes through the USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.

Either that or I'd let a dog run around the neighborhood with it.

If I found one of these on my car - I would put it on hackaday for a bit of reverse engineering fun.

Valuable info (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072380)

How long until the FBI starts selling this info? Hell, it works for Google.

Give up. You've lost your privacy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072024)

The government knows everything about you, or can learn it easily because private individuals and corporations gather information that the government can not by law. Then, when the government wants the information, they either hand it over or issue a supeona.

The sad part is that people are deliberately gathering information for the sole purpose of subverting the constitution, many in the name of national security. There was a TV conspiracy show on recently ( a bit off base at times ) that did point out a part of Homeland Security and how they and every day corporations that have nothing to do with security are working together to gather "to protect America". I'm sure if you search for it you'll find the organization, I don't remember than name. But I did down load the membership form and it is a real scare.

Using Americans to violate other American's freedoms and right to privacy. People are so naive these days. Give them a Play Station and let them suck their thumbs and their happy.

Re:Give up. You've lost your privacy. (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072428)

Uh huh...BTW where the hell have you been for the past 80 years or so? The FBI have always been jack booted thugs going back to their very formation! look up COINTELPRO and see how they have gone so far as to execute Americans on American soil for daring to speak views that weren't on the FBI's approved list of things Negroes were allowed to say at the time.

Anybody that expects the FBI to be anything BUT jack booted attack dogs really haven't been paying attention, just as anybody that thought Nobama would be any different than McSame obviously hadn't been following the money. We lost this country decades ago the only difference now is the greedy swine at the top have gotten so ballsy they don't even pretend to give a fuck about things like the constitution anymore.

But as others have said sooner or later we'll have our very own Egypt and things will get real ugly. I'm betting when China dumps their dollars and starts a worldwide dollar dump and the US dollar is worth about as much as a buck in Zimbabwe the excrement WILL hit the bladed cooling device. My guess is a lot of rich folks will be doing their impersonation of the fall of Saigon complete with helicopters taking off of roofs to escape the hordes. The real question will be what comes after which I kinda feel sorry for the rest of the planet then because as we saw in Europe a militant nation with massive unemployment and a shitload of weapons tends to get nasty to those around them. Hell we even have the pre-made groups to persecute, just replace Jews and Gypsy with Mexicans and H1-Bs.

Hmm (0)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072046)

So basically the FBI can put one of these on anyone it wants, anywhere. Are you part of a group that it doesn't like? Even if there's no evidence whatsoever that anyone in that group has ever committed a serious crime? Then they can and will follow you around for years with one of these.

On the bright side (there is one), at least if you ever are prosecuted you can show your whereabouts pretty easily. Nearly every one of us here routinely spends many hours of the day, at home asleep or watching TV or something. There's no evidence at all to show you were there except for the word of family members, which juries routinely ignore. Thus, if someone you dislike is murdered, bam you're a suspect and you have no proof of your innocence.

As it turns out, you DO need to prove your innocence. "Innocent until proven guilty" doesn't mean anything if they can show 'circumstantial' evidence that indicates that you had the means (as in you had a pair of hands), the motive (you hated the victim because they did something bad to you) and the opportunity (you COULD have gotten to the victim in the time window indicated, and you don't have any proof you didn't. You know, no proof other than dozens of witnesses or whatever. No actual proof, like phone records that you have proof you didn't fake, etc).

I'm referring to this trial, btw : http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=8116945 [go.com]

This guy has the death penalty by the slow option : automatic life w/o parole. He has to prove his innocence to ever get out....and it's a totally different matter to prove you couldn't, by any possible means, have committed a crime vs. showing that you did.

Re:Hmm (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072070)

Anyways, if the FBI had been monitoring Brad Cooper, they could have just pulled the records tracking where his car was, and show if he actually drove it to the site his wife's body was found or not. If he did it, there wouldn't have been an expensive trial, and if he were innocent, then he wouldn't have been indicted. Well, maybe. I suppose the Cary police department would just say that Brad "must have" hacked the FBI tracking device or used a GPS jammer...because he technically knew how to do such a thing....even if they never actually found the tools he used to do this.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072312)

It's naive to think a prosecutor in the face of evidence exonerating the defendant would act so transparently.

Re:Hmm (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072568)

Many are just pessimistic enough to believe this would happen.

Re:Hmm (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072330)

What makes you think that they would allow any evidence that exonerated anyone to come to light ? This device will only collect damning evidence.

Re:Hmm (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072646)

The prosecution must reveal all evidence to the defence as in all the location logs for the tracker. It happens all the time. One of the best ways to get a charge dropped is to find evidence that the prosecution knew about but did not reveal. It does not have to be important evidence as hiding any evidence is grounds for dismissal. I realize it may be a difficult task but showing that some of the location logs are missing should be pretty easy. At worst all location logs would be thrown out.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072372)

>>On the bright side (there is one), at least if you ever are prosecuted you can show your whereabouts pretty easily.

That's assuming they'd release the information to you. I had a cop pull me over when I was driving the speed limit and never could get the highway patrol to release the traffic cam video.

Judge laughed when I complained about it, too.

Seriously, people, donate to the EFF.

Re:Hmm (2)

Hydian (904114) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072572)

You are assuming that the FBI would admit to having data that exonerated you and would be willing to turn it over. I find it more likely that they would deny it existed for as long as possible and then slap "State Secrets" on it so you can't have it anyway.

433 MHz ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072048)

This thing transmits on 433MHz! I have a license (issued by the Feds) to transmit on that frequency. hmmm...

(Yes, like the article this comment is very USA centric.)

Re:433 MHz ? (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072582)

(Yes, like the article this comment is very USA centric.)

To be fair, pretty much anything concerning the FBI tends to be pretty USA centric.

21st century problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072050)

It's been said privacy and anonymity are 'modern inventions'. That may be so, however when looking at the foundations of these United States, and how personal liberty was one of the founding tenets, if not THE founding tenet, I find it hard to believe that an unjust 'surveillance society' could be allowed to develop and exist. The hipocrisy and irony here, referenced by US history, is too much to bear.

(begin rant)
Now, I don't know specifically who the FBI are targeting with these, seems like it was environmental activists up through terrorist suspects according to the article, but if the $50+ Billion we spend annually for 'intel' between the NSA, CIA, DIA can't usurpe threats to this nation, either foreign or domestic, explain to me how violating several parts of the Bill of Rights will!
(end rant)

Well (3, Funny)

Jiro (131519) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072094)

They said that if I voted Republican, we'd get warrantless wiretapping. I voted Republican, and what do you know, we did!

It's hardly even a joke any more. Obama's just as bad as his opponents, except we also get Obamacare added on top.

Re:Well (1)

Jiro (131519) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072114)

I meant tracking, of course. Though we did get warrantless wiretapping as well.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072370)

I rather have ObamaCare than RepublicanGiveAShit.

Re:Well (2)

iinlane (948356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072420)

May I remind you that you're at war. You should be happy that your house is not under bombardment.

Re:Well (3, Insightful)

danlip (737336) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072618)

We've always been at war with Eastasia

Re:Well (4, Informative)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072542)

The second you try to make this a partisan issue is the second you've proven you're drank the kool-aid. Both sides pander to those who give them money, which is everyone with profits on the line who also has enough money to "buy" someone.

Democrat or Republican, same shit, different piles.

Well... there are slight differences, but the end result still tastes crappy.

Damn you George Bush! (4, Funny)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072166)

Oh, wait a sec...........

Never mind.

That Patriot Act... (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072174)

...had the same effect as shooting the little boy who had his thumb in the hole in the dam in the head. Stinks...we didn't even get a Beer Hall Putsch as warning. Unless that was Palin?

Here's a Solution (1)

Celestialwolf (1656075) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072302)

This makes me pretty mad as well; any and all GPS tracking should require a warrant. Period. Sad thing is, with just about any cell phone, you can be tracked just by your position in relation to cell phone towers--not to mention all the devices that are GPS-enabled--without your knowledge.

Not sure how legal they are, but there are GPS-jamming devices that can be had for relatively cheap: http://goo.gl/4TUL6 [goo.gl] . The problem with those is neither you nor the cars around you will be able to use GPS navigation either...

Change we can count on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36072354)

with the Obama administration seeking Supreme Court approval for its use of the devices without a warrant

I'm sure it's still Bush's fault, somehow.

Re:Change we can count on (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072422)

Of course it is! The Patriot Act enabled Obama and the Dems. If it hadn't been for that they never would have thought of this on their own, right? I mean Obama and Co are all for hope and change and rule of law and privacy rights and... yeah all that stuff they told us they were for each year Bush was in office!

Any way to detect tracking devices? (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072452)

Or disable them, other than jamming GPS or cell phone?

DIY alibi kit! (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072456)

These will become more common in many countries...

The way to exploit being followed is to provide the enemy with the data you wish them to have. Take digital pics of its position on the vehicle so you can replace it, then use it as an alibi!

It can be moving when you are in-place, or in-place when you are moving. It can be moving elsewhere, states away if you like.

You can state you were at X location and KNOW that matches their data without revealing that you know this.

One doesn't "hide" by turning off parts of the system, one hides by making the system your bitch.

Re:DIY alibi kit! (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36072632)

Interesting idea. If you contact your local law enforcement agency and inform them that you found a device that looks like a bomb - about 10 minutes after you contact ALL of your local news agencies so the arriving officers can have a nice little wall of reporters to go through. Ensure that the reporters are on your property, so the officer can't tell them to leave. Its your property. This way, when they have to make the embarrassing admission that its a GPS tracker, its a matter of public record. Now, you have a public record that your movements are being tracked. What a great time to rob a bank - after all, you only have one car, and it never left your driveway. Or was it the tracker that never left the driveway? Hmm.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?