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Supreme Court To Weigh In On Warrantless GPS Tracking

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the only-criminals-go-somewhere-incriminating dept.

The Courts 191

CWmike writes "In a move with far-reaching privacy implications, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear a case involving the government's authority to conduct prolonged GPS tracking of suspects in criminal cases without first obtaining a court warrant. The government has argued that it has the authority to conduct such searches; privacy advocates have argued that such tracking violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. The Supreme Court's decision in the case will be pivotal because lesser courts around the U.S. have appeared split on the issue in recent years, with some upholding warrantless GPS tracking and others rejecting it. Last August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit sided with the subject of the Supreme Court hearing, Antoine Jones, a Washington, D.C. man who was convicted in 2008 on charges of possessing and conspiring to distribute more than 50 kilograms of cocaine, and rejected claims by the government that federal agents have the right to conduct around-the-clock warrantless GPS tracking of suspects."

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191 comments

Track this. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36605684)

Bitches!

10 bucks (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605706)

Ten dollars says that they support the government in by at least 7 members. mmm I wonder if my bookie is taking bets on this..

Re:10 bucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36605760)

Ten dollars says that they support the government in by at least 7 members. mmm I wonder if my bookie is taking bets on this..

I'll bet the same thing. Intrade [intrade.com] doesn't have a market up on this that I can find.

Re:10 bucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36605836)

Wouldn't take that bet. This looks like one of the classic 5-4's to me.

Re:10 bucks (3, Insightful)

sortadan (786274) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605930)

Yep. What sucks is that they are taking a case where the defendant is clearly someone that the government should have been tracking and just didn't go through the correct channels of authorization (warrants). For the supreme court to decide to hear this case makes me think that they want to look like the good guys when they decide that the government can track anyone for any reason at any time.

Re:10 bucks (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606096)

Yep. What sucks is that they are taking a case where the defendant is clearly someone that the government should have been tracking and just didn't go through the correct channels of authorization (warrants). For the supreme court to decide to hear this case makes me think that they want to look like the good guys when they decide that the government can track anyone for any reason at any time.

Successfully reading the court in advance requires a degree in divining, Harry Potter style. It could be just the opposite -- they want to make the point that it would have been easy to get a warrant, so forbidding warrantless tracking won't actually hurt the state's interest in catching criminals.

Re:Successfully reading the court in advance (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606566)

Or study under Asimov's psychohistory.

We're seriously on a path to *someting*. I keep hoping it's a Privacy Rebellion rather than the Mayan's End of the World in Dec2012 (your month here.)

I just suk as a psychic so I can only read tier 3 trends.

Re:Successfully reading the court in advance (2)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606746)

We're seriously on a path to *someting*. I keep hoping it's a Privacy Rebellion rather than the Mayan's End of the World in Dec2012 (your month here.)

I'm still betting on "a boot stamping on a human face, forever".

Re:10 bucks (4, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606098)

"What sucks is that they are taking a case where the defendant is clearly someone that the government should have been tracking and just didn't go through the correct channels of authorization (warrants)."

Do we actually know that? Did they already have probable cause? If they did, why didn't they use it?

I think it's much more likely that they felt they "knew" what he was up to, and were on a fishing expedition to try to get some real evidence. But fishing expeditions are illegal; that's the point.

The problem with just letting them do this to somebody they "know" (or think) is guilty, is that surprisingly often, people "know" things that just aren't so. Further, as the Supreme Court has ruled in the past, fishing expeditions are not permissible because, among other reasons, "evidence" might be found that makes even innocent people appear guilty. Just like the guy who was picked up for arson because his local store's "club card" information said he had bought a fire starter. Later, the real guilty party confessed to the crime. The other guy just wanted to light his barbecue.

Re:10 bucks (4, Insightful)

adolf (21054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606552)

The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are tenured; they don't care if they look like 'the good guys' or not. They don't have to compete with anyone else to keep their jobs for the rest of their useful lives, so there's simply no impetus to keep other people happy.

This is a good thing: It is, perhaps, the least political position of power in the justice system.

I look forward to seeing what they have to say about this case.

Re:tenured (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606628)

What does it take to kick off a Supreme justice?

By not answering to anyone a justice can go on a rampage.

With the Repub/Conserv leaning court we could damage civil rights for decades.

Re:tenured (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#36607086)

Death, resignation, or impeachment which follows the same process as impeaching a president. Such an impeachment requires evidence of actual crimes committed, not simply a disagreement in ideologies.

Re:tenured (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36607106)

Does violating their oath of office count?

Re:tenured (2)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 3 years ago | (#36607252)

Does violating their oath of office count?

From the constitution:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

This is really aimed at government officials that commit crimes. If you are asking if judges can be removed from office because their rulings don't "support this Constitution" the answer is probably no. A judge has discretion to interpret the constitution. If congress disagrees with that interpretation they can amend the constitution.

Suppose the constitution is amended, a case with the exact same circumstances comes before the judge and he rules the same way regardless of the amendment. That is an issue that has not come up...

Re:10 bucks (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36607264)

The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are tenured; they don't care if they look like 'the good guys' or not. They don't have to compete with anyone else to keep their jobs for the rest of their useful lives, so there's simply no impetus to keep other people happy.

That you know of.
The way a couple of the judges toe the party line, even when it goes against previously spoken convictions, leads me to consider that the party that nominated them may have something on them - perhaps something in their past that they don't want to become public. A controllable SCOTUS judge or two wouldn't be unthinkable - the politicos and powerful lobbyists have done far worse than that in the past.

If there's a need for warrantless investigations of individual US citizens, I think we should start by wiretapping the Supreme Court to find out whether they discuss cases with politicians or former fundraisers, or otherwise take "suggestions" from the outside.

Re:10 bucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36605978)

7-2 Here's the breakdown:

Roberts - In government's favor
Kennedy - In government's favor
Thomas - In government's favor
Alito - In government's favor
Scalia - In government's favor, probably.
Sotomayer - In government's favor
Kagan - In government's favor, assuming she doesn't recuse herself yet again
Breyer - Against government position
Ginsburg - Against government position

Re:10 bucks (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606658)

Exactly. I'd put money on it being a 5-4 split along ideological lines.

The thing is, I can see it both ways. The police don't need a warrant to follow a suspect. This isn't much different. The big difference is that police manpower is inherently limited, whereas GPS tracking is effectively unlimited. What needs to be decided is whether or not unlimited tracking is within the bounds of the Constitution.

Of course, there are other issues. Affixing a GPS to someone's car requires either breaking in (which should clearly violate the 4th amendment), attaching it to the exterior of the car via mechanical means (modifying property should clearly violate the 4th amendment), or affixing it via a magnet. The latter is frankly the easiest to justify, but still needs to pass the test I mentioned above.

Personally, I think that unlimited tracking crosses a line. But I can very easily see the argument that it's a simple extension of police tracking that is enabled through the use of new technology.

Re:10 bucks (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606910)

I'll bet you are right, that it will come down to the fact that the tracking involves tampering with a car.

I will quibble, though, that rights are not based on available manpower. It either is a right (to not be tracked without a warrant) or it isn't. I believe the spirit of the constitution and the spirit of justice says that the police should be required to get a warrant for any investigative "tools" that target an individual and which aren't emergencies.

The left field option, and my favorite of the supreme court decisions, is where they will decide one way or another, but for a completely different reason. And then journalists completely fuck up the reporting. "Supreme court sides with murderer!" When in reality, they simply said something like "remand down for new trial, we agree that the first trial was unfair."

Re:10 bucks (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 3 years ago | (#36607052)

I will quibble, though, that rights are not based on available manpower. It either is a right (to not be tracked without a warrant) or it isn't. I believe the spirit of the constitution and the spirit of justice says that the police should be required to get a warrant for any investigative "tools" that target an individual and which aren't emergencies.

In general, I think that police should be able to follow a suspect around public areas without a warrant. I think there are reasonable parameters you would put on such tailing. The person should be the subject of an ongoing investigation. The police should not interfere or harass the subject. The police should not go anywhere where the subject would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, or on private land (discounting privately owned areas that are public--e.g. the police should be able to go into Wal Mart, though the managers should be able to ask them to leave the premises.)

A GPS and a tail are probably invasive for different reasons. The GPS is affixed to the vehicle somehow, which means it directly contacts the person or their property. It can follow the subject onto private areas, which would give the police additional information even if it couldn't be used directly in court. But it's mostly invisible to the subject, in contrast to a tail. The tail is at least an adult human being, and quite probably includes a police vehicle. That could affect a person's reputation.

So I could see both sides to the argument.

The point about resources was perhaps poorly thought out. I still think it's valid, but for different reasons. The gist is that limited resources inherently creates a barrier to abuse. It might mean that less oversight is required. But you're correct that the rights shouldn't be dependent upon resources. That does mean that warrantless GPS tracking is likely to be upheld in certain, specific circumstances, such as when a vehicle doesn't have to be broken into or modified. SCOTUS is unlikely to find that e.g. magnetic attachment violates the right to unreasonable search.

Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (0)

TWX (665546) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605740)

I expect it'll probably go opposite the way I would want to see the ruling go, just given the recent history.

Arizona's Clean Elections law got stomped on despite creating more speech in giving out more money.

Minors can buy violent video games, even though historically Minors haven't had full rights and parents are the ones who have had the authority to regulate their children.

So, I expect this one to disappoint me too, in that I don't think that warrantless GPS monitoring should generally be legal.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (1)

Viros (1128445) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605876)

Actually, the game one puts the responsibility of regulating children INTO the hands of parents and OUT of the government. The ruling just prevented a law requiring the government to decide what can and can't be sold to minors with regards to violent video games. Now the responsibility is on the parents to actually pay attention to what their kids are playing and, if the kids bought something the parents don't want them playing, take it away.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (0)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606056)

No, it takes away powers that the parents had, as the sole source of certain video games for minors. Now that minors can go behind their parents' backs and buy the games, parents' role in "taking responsibility for their kids" has become that much more difficult.

You really should have read the law, and the decision. including the dissent. Clarence Thomas, for instance, made some very salient points.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606138)

Oh fuck you.

Clarence "Just Bribe My Wife" Thomas's points were as disgustingly intellectually dishonest as I've ever seen from him.

Parental responsibility is just that: PARENTAL. It doesn't mean kids need to have a signed fucking permission slip to go into a store to buy a comic book, bubble gum, or even a video game. It means it is the responsibility of the PARENT to manage what money their kids are given, what they are allowed to do with it, and to punish the kid appropriately when the kid decides to "go behind their parents' backs and..."

If you as a parent don't want your kid to buy a certain game, or a certain action figure, or a toy cap gun, or a certain book, or a magazine, or any one of a gazillion other things that uptight cult-brainwashed puritan moron parents seem to think are "bad" for their kids, then YOU TALK TO YOUR KID ABOUT IT. It is the responsibility of the PARENT to keep tabs on what their kid is doing/buying.

The ruling, rightly stated, points out that it is NOT the right of the parent to demand that every fucking shopkeeper in the state has to be a fucking prick about selling harmless things and checking ID merely because of the 1 in a million chance that the parents of the kid in front of him might be the sort of fucking gap-toothed asshole who insists that the only books in the house be "Da Bible" and the gun cleaning manual hanging next to the rack of roadkill waiting to be gutted and spit-roasted for dinner.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36606318)

Oh fuck you.

People like you make me... ...Wish I actually had a Slashdot account, so I could use mod points to assign +1 Here's Someone Who Freaking Gets It.

GP: If your kid is somehow 'going behind your back' and buying violent video games without your consent, maybe you should consider, yanno, actually attempting to be a parent. I'm sure you can think of some way to dissuade your brats from being lying little bastards, ne?

Two words for you... (4, Insightful)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606326)

Decaff, bro.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606450)

Someone's signature here sums your comment up rather nicely, although it is in regards to religion: "Tolerance is to let others live like they want. To appease religious fundamentalists is not tolerance, but submission." Similarly, I think that appeasing the parents who want government to restrict their children for them, is not tolerating their lack of child-rearing experience; it is submitting to their demands. I agree with you, that we should not.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (1)

Snarky McButtface (1542357) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606610)

President George Washington said the following on tolerance in response to a letter received from Moses Seixas, warden of the Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI.

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent national gifts. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

I agree with the sentiment of your post but when one group tolerates another, they are not equals.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606426)

Now that minors can go behind their parents' backs and buy the games, parents' role in "taking responsibility for their kids" has become that much more difficult.

What the hell does that matter? Be more concerned about drugs or alchohol, both of which are easier to obtain (no videogame store in the US sell to minors without a parent there, even without the law) and both of which are worse for kids than violent games.

If your kid is getting ahold of a violent game and playing it, you've failed. And it is a minor failure, but that's no one's business but you and your kids. Hands off the law book.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606828)

Playing Devil's advocate here, since I've been playing violent games since I was 14 without any (noticeable?) side effects.

What the hell does that matter? Be more concerned about drugs or alchohol, both of which are easier to obtain (no videogame store in the US sell to minors without a parent there, even without the law) and both of which are worse for kids than violent games.

But it's still illegal to sell drugs and alcohol to minors. The fact that enforcement is easier in the case of videogames is not really a reason not to make something illegal.

If your kid is getting ahold of a violent game and playing it, you've failed.

Assuming the premise that violent VGs are actually harmful to children, we can all agree that the parent has failed, but that leads to the question: should we allow negligent parents to harm their children (even if by inaction)? Aren't we allowing kids to pay for their parent's mistakes?

Shouldn't we at least make sure the parent actively agrees with the kid playing the VG by buying it him/herself, instead of allowing unsupervised children of negligent parents run rampant?

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (1)

Snarky McButtface (1542357) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606438)

I am no Cliff Huxtable but if I wanted to know what my son was doing, I asked him and he told me. He would admit to stealing, starting a fight and other such actions from the age of four because he knew it was important for me to be able to trust him no matter what. If children are going behind their parents' backs to do anything, the parents haven't been responsible.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606846)

But if the parents haven't in fact been responsible, it's the children who pays for such negligence, no?

(Assuming that violent VGs are actually harmful.)

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (1, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606604)

Soooo...you're saying you are FOR letting a kid run around with $60+ and not having a fucking clue what he/she spent the money on without the government to tell you so? Maybe that whole "need a license to have a kid' idea isn't such a bad thing.

I personally as a parent thought the law was bullshit because I don't need to have the government tell me what my kid can/can't play and actually had NO problem with my boys playing a violent game if they so desired. Of course unlike those that sit their kids in front of a box and walk away I actually interacted with my boys, I know, its a concept, and I sat them down and actually showed them how what they saw on the screen was created. I had no worry that mistake game stupidity for reality because they knew how levels were made, how to edit textures, how scripts create the illusion of AI, etc and you know what? By and large they didn't care about the really violent games because those games had nothing to sell themselves with BUT violence and my boys preferred games with decent level design and good combat to just another blood fest.

Now my oldest is in his second year of pre-med and on the Dean's list, and the youngest is trying to decide whether he wants to go into computer generated art or follow his love of cooking and be a chef. So I think I did just fine without nanny government watching my kids for me, which BTW the movie theaters have NO law that forbids them from letting your kid see an R or NC17 movie, just like the ESRB it is voluntary as it should be.

Know where your kids are, know what they are doing, and spend some time with them. if that is too much to ask then frankly you shouldn't be having kids in the first place. You can't babyproof the world, nor can you have the state raise your kids for you. When my sister ended up trapped in a bed with terminal cancer and I got two babies dropped in my lap I stepped up to the plate and did my damned job. It was hard as hell, I must have spent three years sleeping in a rocking chair so that the youngest could sleep and frankly i'm probably 3 years behind on decent nights rest now. But that is what it takes to be a parent, it takes long hours and hard work. And frankly if you aren't ready for that or can't even honestly say you know what your kid is buying or playing? Maybe it isn't for you.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36607056)

"When my sister ended up trapped in a bed with terminal cancer and I got two babies dropped in my lap I stepped up to the plate and did my damned job. It was hard as hell, I must have spent three years sleeping in a rocking chair so that the youngest could sleep and frankly i'm probably 3 years behind on decent nights rest now. But that is what it takes to be a parent, it takes long hours and hard work."

My hat is off to you, sir or madam. You might just be the finest example of a decent human being I've seen in the Slashdot forums, which for the most
part are filled with people I'd have no qualms about pushing off a cliff in order to make the world a batter place.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606738)

Actually, all video game retailers in California are part of the voluntary ratings system that enforces the industry's ratings as if they had the force of law. Manufacturers and distributors make this as a condition in their contracts. Independent tests have found that selling M rated games to children happens less often than allowing children into R rated movies (also a voluntary system).

In practical means, the law was entirely symbolic... except, of course, for the vague usage of the terms in the bill which would have made knowing if one were in violation of the law a complete nightmare.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (0)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605904)

Arizona's Clean Elections law got stomped on despite creating more speech in giving out more money.

Mostly because of Clarence Thomas. If he hadn't stopped this law, his wife's paymasters might not have had such an unfair advantage in rigging elections by dumping hoards of cash everywhere.

The Clean Elections law was the last gasp of common sense from the Arizona legislature before the Tea Tardiers took over. Sad to see it go, but unsurprising - the under-the-table illegal bribes scheme cooked up by the Republicans and given sanction by the USSC in Citizens United would have been far less effective if there were laws preventing their robber baron masters from simply overwhelming any candidate by, say, buying up the airwaves at a 50-to-1 ratio.

Minors can buy violent video games, even though historically Minors haven't had full rights and parents are the ones who have had the authority to regulate their children.

Minors "can" buy violent video games. Also comic books. Also cap guns. Also any dozens of other things.

Most stupid was Clarence Dumbfuck Thomas's statement again, too: "The practices and beliefs of the founding generation establish that “the freedom of speech,” as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors (or a right of minors to access speech) without going through the minors’ parents or guardians." Bullshit. If I stand on a street corner and shout - which is my legal right of free expression - I am communicating with anyone in range of my voice, minor or not. If I publish a pamphlet and give it away for free, I implicitly give it away to anyone into whose hands it falls, minor or not. The "right" of the parents to silence me goes only so far as to take their little hellspawn away from the area, or clap their hands over the poor, shut-in, abused child's ears.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36606210)

Glad to see another /.er ignoring real problems in campaign finance. We just spent $800 Billion on a "jobs program" to fix the countries "infrastructure" and amazingly enough need to spend nearly the same amount on it again because the money wasn't used for that. Where did the $800 Billion go? Federal union employees because they are forced to pay dues and those dues go to the DNC. Yep, thats right, the "stimilus bill" was a money laundering scheme to keep up donations to the DNC on the back of the taxpayers.

Lets also not forget Clinton and Gore selling missile secrets to China and when getting caught actually saying in a presidential national debate "No controlling legal authority" because they told Janet Reno not to prosecute.

Nope, treason and outright theft from the American public is ok by /. standards, but people spending their OWN MONEY on campaigns obviously must be stopped.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36606886)

but people spending their OWN MONEY on campaigns obviously must be stopped

The CEO can spend all of his OWN MONEY on any campaign that he wants to. It's not HIS OWN money until his company cuts him a check.

Re:Bad-ruling trifecta in play... (2)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606954)

As distasteful as the effects of the decision are, they are in keeping with the constitution. The government can no more take speech away from someone as they can give extra speech to someone else. The citizens' solution is to support candidates with cash, not to use the government to force people to pay for someone else's speech. Another solution would be to remove the FCC rule that requires media outlets to charge the lowest published rate to political candidates.

As for the not speaking to minors thing, it is silly. But often, justices will place "oddball" opinions into dissents just to get them on record. That was also a correct decision; more harm is done by restricting minors' rights than by allowing them to buy nudie magazines and vid-ja games.

Predictions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36605748)

Roberts   : Held
Scalia    : Dissent
Kennedy   : Held
Thomas    : Held
Ginsburg  : Held
Breyer    : Dissent
Alito     : Held
Sotomayor : Held
Kagan     : Held

Predictions? see Kyllo v. United States (5, Informative)

triclipse (702209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606042)

Wrong. Your best bet for predictions is Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27.

Kyllo held that the use of a thermal imaging device from a public vantage point to monitor the radiation of heat from a person's home was a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and thus required a warrant. Because the police in this case did not have a warrant, the Court reversed Kyllo's conviction for growing marijuana.

Majority: Scalia, joined by Souter, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer

Dissent: Stevens, joined by Rehnquist, O'Connor, Kennedy

Kyllo was a win for us, but you can bet Sotamayor and Kagan will follow Stevens lead, and Roberts and Alito will follow Rehnquist/Connor. We get the worst of both the "liberal" and "conservative" Justices.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyllo_v._United_States [wikipedia.org]

Fait accompli (2, Funny)

guspasho (941623) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605774)

If it were up to this court the government would be able to quarter troops in our homes. It's no question how it will rule when it comes to what protections the Fourth Amendment provides (none at all). That it is hearing this case is bad news by itself.

Why don't you support or troops?! (5, Funny)

jeko (179919) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606166)

If it were up to this court the government would be able to quarter troops in our homes.

You should be HONORED to have one of our brave troops set foot in your home, you dope-smoking Liberal. If it wasn't for our troops, you wouldn't have a home, you Sharia-loving socialist! You should take a trip down to the local VA hospital to get a close look at the blood and limbs that have been lost to save your freedom. My wife and I moved into the garage so the fine young hero in our care could sleep in a decent bed after the rock mattresses he got in Afghanistan.

Sure, they were good enough to fight for you in Iraq, but now you think our troops should be homeless. You make me sick, you Jon Stewart acolyte.

[I defy you to work through Poe's Law on this one. :-) ]

Re:Why don't you support or troops?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36606288)

Could've done better. The wife should stay in the house to comfort the soldier; the husband gets to sleep in the garage alone.

Yeah, thought about that (0)

jeko (179919) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606560)

Yeah, I thought about that, but the people who sound off like this usually want to be the ones doing the comforting, see Larry Craig.

Re:Why don't you support or troops?! (3, Funny)

sockman (133264) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606374)

Does it count if I quarter myself in my own home?

Re:Why don't you support or troops?! (1)

jeko (179919) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606506)

I don't want to know what you do with your consenting self in the privacy of your own home. Now, if you haven't given yourself consent, then yes, it becomes a police matter.

Re:Why don't you support or troops?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36606558)

No, but you may find another soldier and you guys swap so your quartered in each others homes.

Bonus points if you live in the barracks, double bonus points if it confuses the hell outta your platoon sgt.

Re:Why don't you support or troops?! (2)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606716)

You say "dope-smoking Liberal" like it's a bad thing...

Missing Bill Hicks... (1)

jeko (179919) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606810)

Smoke this! It's the law!

Wow, sorry man, started taking myself just a little too seriously there for a second...

Re:Why don't you support or troops?! (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606830)

I thought it said "pope smoking" and I thought, damn, that's too liberal for me.

Warrantlessly Track The Police (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36605824)

If it's not violating our rights, then it certainly isn't violating their rights .. now is it?

Re:Warrantlessly Track The Police (2)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605864)

im fairly sure you dont need a warrant to stake out your nearest dunkin donuts

Re:Warrantlessly Track The Police (1)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605906)

Let's track all our elected officials, too!

Seriously, I am in favor of random drug tests for all elected and appointed Federal officials.

As for this ruling, I expect the Court to go along with any kind of Fourth Amendment violations. They seem to be on the other side nowadays, i.e. against we the people.

Re:Warrantlessly Track The Police (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605970)

>>Seriously, I am in favor of random drug tests for all elected and appointed Federal officials.

Heh, like in Snow Crash, eh? Make the federal government only for the dedicated people willing to work for low pay in order to do something good for the country? Random drug testing and polygraph tests?

Actually? Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

Well, in any event, it's worth supporting the EFF in their efforts on this. As always, they're on the right side of the issues. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/06/supreme-court-agrees-hear-key-warrantless-gps [eff.org]

Fair's fair (1)

mykos (1627575) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606128)

They argue that they can track any vehicle that is out in the public, so why not require them to set up a website that reports their whereabouts by the minute? Wonder if they'd change their minds...

Re:Warrantlessly Track The Police (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36607122)

A shop I worked at did all the tech work for a 911 call center. One of the PC's on the bench was running a program that had a map and live gps data from all the area police vehicles. They track themselves, you just need access to their system =]~

Because (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605840)

Getting a warrant is too damn hard!

Yeah, not going to buy that excuse, not with the number of no-knock search warrants issued every day with no probable cause. Its pretty bad the people we want to protect our rights are fighting to remove them. What's next, my Doctor giving me a prescription for dorritos and beer?!

Re:Because (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606632)

What's next, my Doctor giving me a prescription for dorritos and beer?!

If he does tell me his name!

Re:Because (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606840)

It's tricky to remember the 800 number to call when you want a rubber stamped warrant.

What will be interesting... (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605856)

Is their reasons behind the outcome.

I mean, they do have to understand that if they allow the government to do this, it basically cuts out the Judiciary branch in regards to oversight. They could spy on ANYONE at ALL TIMES without a single warrant being filed. It also means that the FBI could start attaching these devices to THEIR cars.

(Of course there is no reason why the FBI would want to track judges now is there...)

Why should we follow the law... (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605882)

if they won't even follow the most basic law we have: the Constitution.

They expect us to obey every dipshit law that they pass on whatever whim they have on that particular day, but God forbid that they have to get a [gasp] warrant to conduct a search or track somebody.

Re:Why should we follow the law... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605964)

Because, although it might sound cliche... two wrongs don't make a right.

Re:Why should we follow the law... (0)

genner (694963) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606036)

Because, although it might sound cliche... two wrongs don't make a right.

.....but three lefts do.

Magna Carta and the Rule of Law (3, Insightful)

jeko (179919) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606398)

SuperDave80 could have made his argument with a little more rigor, but what's he reaching for is "Not even the King is above the Law."

The Government cannot expect us to follow the Law if it will not follow the Law itself. This was the whole point of the Magna Carta, one of the founding documents of modern law.

The 1215 Charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties, and accept that his will was not arbitrary, for example by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today.

If the Rule of Law does not apply to all, including and especially the Executive, then you have the walking definition of a corrupt state and an illegitimate government. When the government does not obey the law, you have a duty to break it and oppose the men in power. I'll let the Declaration of Independence speak for itself:

...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends ... it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

When the government does not follow the Law, then there is no Law to be followed.

You will, of course, still have moral limits on your behavior.

Re:Why should we follow the law... (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606152)

The very idea of the Supreme Court "weighing in" is a bit flawed. The SC is supposed to UPHOLD the Constitution, not sit around and decide which parts they, as a small handful of individuals, agree can be totally streamrolled, ignored, and used as toilet paper. There isn't much to "weigh in" - it's blatantly unconstitutional, and the only way they can ethically "decide" is for the Constitution. In spite of many of us having been convinced otherwise, the "consent-of-the-governed" mandate of the SC doesn't actually include "getting rid of the Bill of Rights".

Re:Why should we follow the law... (1)

honkycat (249849) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606386)

I'm going to go ahead and guess that they know a little more about the Constitution than you do, and may be aware of subtleties of its interpretation that cloud the issue.

Even if you believe it's blatant, the Supreme Court has the final say on Constitutionality, so when the Executive and Legislative branches get it wrong, it's kinda important they "weigh in" on the issue... The Constitution is just a piece of paper with a description of some ideas. It doesn't *do* anything by itself.

Keep Questioning Authority, BeanThere (1)

jeko (179919) | more than 3 years ago | (#36607208)

I'm going to go ahead and guess that they know a little more about the Constitution than you do, and may be aware of subtleties of its interpretation that cloud the issue.

And yet, the wonderful thing is that BeanThere still has the right to call them on their nonsense. You just made the most literal "Appeal to Authority" argument I've ever heard. I'll go BeanThere one better. Not only do I believe their decisions of late have been grievously, horrifically wrong, I don't think they're the caliber of men fit to walk through the Court's doors and sit in the shadow of Thurgood Marshall, Earl Warren and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

If ruled unconstitutional ... (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605896)

Some states want to tax using driving habits based upon GPS. What would this mean for states' or feds' attempts to require GPS in all motor vehicles?

Re:If ruled unconstitutional ... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606044)

Probably nothing. It would affect only warrantless, covert, monitoring by the cops/feds. Overt monitoring that you totally voluntarily agreed to in order to get your driver's license and/or vehicle registration, on the other hand, would be Just Peachy-Keen(tm).

If ruled Constitutional ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36606794)

Bend over and cough, because we are all now at the mercy of a justice system loyal to guilt first, innocence last.

What about warrantless triangulation? (1)

dicobalt (1536225) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605922)

I hear it is pretty accurate now and very easy to do.

Epiphany (1)

Subratik (1747672) | more than 3 years ago | (#36605948)

Let's see, if they pass the bill, theyll surely circumvent it somehow anyway. Or, they could try to pass yet another bill that enables them to monitor your web traffic. Html 5 integrated with gps is perfectly fine for the gov, or those pics on your phone you take not realizing the gps metadata is built into every one of them. (minus the people who care enough to cleanse it of course.) But they'd need a reason to want your information... Unless they had it already, waiting on it, knowing what they could do with their power if they so cared to detain you... But that would imply you didn't take the precautions to protect your data.. So how hard is it to get a warrant, not too hard.. They dont even need one anymore. Let the internet be open-source indeed.

Whatever Are You Folks Up To Down There? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36605986)

As a Canadian nursed on a meager diet of Canadian TV content and a mess of pablum for the brainless USA TV content, I've always had an "if you wish upon a star", kinda of a hope for you all, but when the FBI starts dealing down [cnn.com] with organized crime and there's no privacy or protection from racketeering Corporations running wild with patents and copyrights rather than just clubs and guns, I gotta say you're just fucked, deeply, badly fucked.

I'd allow it (0)

sirwired (27582) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606020)

I know this is an unpopular view here, but I don't have any problem with it, as long as your whearabouts once your vehicle crosses a private property line is inadmissible. The cops can already get this information by dangerously and expensively tailing you or flying over your head, and they can do that without a warrant; why should obtaining the same information from a GPS be any different? I just don't see how your whereabouts of your vehicle on public roads creates any expectation of privacy.

To the argument that the GPS device is a modification to your property: I don't see how it's any more of a modification than the meter maid putting a chalk mark on your tires.

There should be reasonable suspicion, to be sure (just about any law enforcement activity requires it), but I don't think a GPS tracker crosses the line into needing probable cause and a warrant. Tracking your location on public roads is neither search nor seizure. The govt. built and owns the road; if you don't like it, don't drive.

Re:I'd allow it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36606074)

Seems like a slippery slope, though -- there are a lot of expensive and time-consuming things that could be made much simpler with a shortcut like this.

It also brings up the possibility of weaker evidence. For one, when law enforcement is tailing somebody, they can at least be certain that person is in the car. With GPS tracking, all they know is that the suspect's car is in use -- not that the suspect is inside.

Re:I'd allow it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36606094)

I'm sure you'll be first in line to install your mandatory gps attachment to your car. I mean if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear right?

Re:I'd allow it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36606656)

I wasn't sure which slippery slope troll to reply to - you wins teh reply!

The GP clearly articulates this is neither a search nor a seizure. I've been waffling a lot on this case but have been leaning GP's way, but havent been able to quite qualify it. That statement sums it up well. The specific troll of "so when are you installing YOUR voluntary device" is intellectual sophistry and utterly unrelated to the case here.

There are legitimate concerns over why the police didn't get a warrant in this specific case - but would they need a warrant to just follow you everywhere you went on a public road, and then break out the binoculars and watch you go into a building? And does their lack of getting a warrant override the statement that GPS tracking on public roads is neither search nor seizure? Does other more specific law apply in its place? Or will they say the tracker "modifies" the property without the user's consent, and if they wanted to follow you everywhere sans warrant, they need to do it the old fashioned way?

I am genuinely interested in how this plays out - and instead of making gut reactions about slippery slopes or "omg police state obvious violation move along citizen" - I will read the entire PDF when it is released, to see what kind of arguments each side makes.

Oh wait, intellectual sophistry? This is slashdot. .... so I bet that PDF probably has a tracker in it. Cause they KNOW how I feel about the case... and they're TRACKING me, man. Sure I have 50 kilos in my trunk but I have nothing to fear! But they're still following me, cause thats what THE MAN does. Its not paranoia when theyre out to get you, man.

Re:I'd allow it (1)

DaHat (247651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606106)

Very well said, I couldn't agree more.

Re:I'd allow it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36606190)

There are many many things in society that seem to be perfectly acceptable when given a direct correlary to "what we have today", but when you sum them all up, you end up with something vaguely resembling 1984.

We need to establish a precident of the expectation of privacy in some way. The argument of "if it could be done by a person, it should be done by a computer" is great in some circumstances, but imagine a national net of sensors, cameras, microphones, etc, that recorded the whereabouts, apparent mood, visual appearance, conversation and any and all associations of every person in the country.

Sure, you could do this, through huge and concerted effort of a team of surveillance experts, which is why it's almost never done.

But what if you could instantly (or constantly) do it to every person, in every public and semi-public space, without any cause at all?

I contend that this is a gross mistreatment and should not be tolerated, but it also fits within your definition of "could be done before with great effort".

Is that sufficient grounds?

Re:I'd allow it (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606484)

The government owns the road? What feudal country do you live in? I also really have a hard time believing that if some random person (possibly a stalker, serial killer, burglar, boss) put a tracker on your car you wouldn't feel that your privacy was violated or feel that the appliance added was more than a chalk mark on a part that touches the ground.

Re:I'd allow it (4, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606494)

The cops can already get this information by dangerously and expensively tailing you or flying over your head, and they can do that without a warrant; why should obtaining the same information from a GPS be any different?

Because the burden of cost is one of the ways that our public anonymity is maintained. If the cost barrier is removed, it will need to be erected as a legal barrier.

Matter no degree, not type (5, Insightful)

jeko (179919) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606496)

The cops can already get this information by dangerously and expensively tailing you or flying over your head, and they can do that without a warrant; why should obtaining the same information from a GPS be any different?

Because Liberty is a matter of degree, not just type. A woman runs into her ex-boyfriend at Starbucks Monday morning. If she doesn't see him again, that's chance. If she bumps into him again at lunch, that's odd. If she sees him at dinner, it's weird. If she sees him every time she sets foot out her door, that's stalking.

Police departments have finite resources. They can only surveil a handful of people full-time. That's police work. If they can automate that and keep track of thousands of people simultaneously while logging their every movement into a database, that's Orwellian.

The fact that they would do that while trespassing on my property is just creepy.

 

Re:Matter no degree, not type (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#36607146)

Stalking is a degree defined by law. The fourth amendment specifies only that the search must not be unreasonable. This is defined as whether or not it is reasonable to expect privacy, not as whether or not the cost of the search is a reasonable one. And so the "finite resource" argument only enters into it as the question "If you expect you will be private by virtue of nobody having the spare time to follow you, is that expectation reasonable?"

What about data from private companies? (1)

jasno (124830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606068)

Is this even relevant, given that private companies would likely be more than willing to sell your location information to the police or anyone else?

Are the police barred, for instance, from purchasing your location information from companies that perform automated license plate tracking? What about 5 years from now when every department has an 'eye in the sky' providing the ability to track you visually from the air?

Hey, thanks. (1)

earls (1367951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606162)

It's about fucking time.

Sauce for the goose (1)

AnotherBlackHat (265897) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606172)

If it's not an unreasonable search to attach a tracker to someones car, does that mean ordinary citizens can do it too?

Re:Sauce for the goose (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#36607010)

If it's not an unreasonable search to attach a tracker to someones car, does that mean ordinary citizens can do it too?

I can think of nine people in DC you should try it on.

The question at hand... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606180)

Is not whether this tracking is constitutional: it's an obvious violation of the fourth amendment, among other civil rights. The question is whether the court will do its duty, or once again provide a pretense of legitimacy to a power-grab.

-jcr

Re:The question at hand... (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#36607098)

Is not whether this tracking is constitutional: it's an obvious violation of the fourth amendment, among other civil rights. The question is whether the court will do its duty, or once again provide a pretense of legitimacy to a power-grab.

-jcr

How is it obvious? The 4th amendment provides protections from searches and seizures. Attaching a GPS externally to your car while is is on a public street doesn't involve searching anything, and doesn't involve taking any of your property.

I think it's wrong that it can be done without a warrant, but I don't think it falls under the 4th amendment at all.

Why would anyone complain about this? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606456)

The first question that needs to be answers is why there might be a case where getting a warrant is a problem when they are willing to expend the resources to attach the tracking device in the first place. These things are expensive - on the order of $1000 plus fees for the cell phone connection. So they can't attach one just on a whim, there has to be some reason. So what reasons would there be where a warrant would be a problem? I would guess that the most logical would be one where someone is clearly involved in the drug trade but not carrying actionable amounts of any controlled substance. It is hard to get a warrant on a "conspiracy" charge and nothing more to go on that a good guess. Think "mob accountant" also for an example of this.

I could also see situations where it is next to impossible to charge a person with a crime for stuff they are clearly doing so what is needed is finding something else they are doing that is actionable. One example would be someone making child porn videos but neither the parents who are getting well paid nor the children themselves will file a complaint. The question then becomes what else is this person doing, can we catch them in the act, etc.

So now we have relatively high-profile cases that more information is needed about but that information isn't forthcoming. Sure, you could assign 2 people on three shifts to follow the person but that is going to get expensive fast. It also presupposes that the manpower is available and today in law enforcement it simply is not available - there are no "extra" six people. So some kind of tracking that doesn't require humans doing the tracking is needed. The "new law enforcement" is operating with fewer and fewer bodies and more and more technology. Not only is policing an unpopular job these days but at nearly every level the budget just keeps getting cut back further and further. Remember when two-person patrol cars where the norm? Most police cars today have a laptop bracket blocking the passenger seat making two-person patrols impossible. The manpower simply doesn't exist any longer.

Push hard enough against GPS tracking and we will have optical systems using either LEO satellites (lots of 'em) or solar-powered drones. The LEO satellites would be tough to coordinate and we might not have all the kinks worked out of that right now. The drones are clearly less than five years away and might be nearly as cost effective as GPS tracking is today.

Today a GPS tracker with a cell phone is pretty easy to find. A optical tracking drone flying around at 10,000 feet is impossible to find. The motivation is clearly present, so be careful what you wish for. If GPS isn't an option then something else will be used and it will likely be more intrusive and less detectable.

Re:Why would anyone complain about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36606514)

These things are expensive - on the order of $1000 plus fees for the cell phone connection.

Why do we worry about the archiving of phone calls? Do you have any idea how much 8-track reel-to-reel tape costs?

And why do we worry about the archiving of email? Winchester drives are expensive - on the order of $1000 for ten megabytes of MFM storage. Even if RLL comes out and brings the cost down to $1000 for 40 MB, that's still prohibitive.

Push hard enough against GPS tracking and we will have optical systems using either LEO satellites (lots of 'em) or solar-powered drones. The LEO satellites would be tough to coordinate and we might not have all the kinks worked out of that right now. The drones are clearly less than five years away and might be nearly as cost effective as GPS tracking is today.

Permit GPS tracking and you've established the precedent that fully-autonomous microdrones the size of dragonflies, are fundamentally no different.

We learned that lesson with CALEA and Carnivore, back in the reel-to-reel tape and 40-megabyte hard drive days.

Re:Why would anyone complain about this? (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606608)

Your assumption that government has good intentions is naive. Organized crime and pedophilia overlap government to a large degree, and "law enforcement" operations are almost always to shut down rivals or for empty propaganda purposes. And by the point the drone technology gets that cheap GPS miniaturization will as well, and will still be the more effective option. (Not that satellites or drones are any more legal).

Re:Why would anyone complain about this? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606732)

These things are expensive - on the order of $1000 plus fees for the cell phone connection.

Save 2 weeks*police persons to follow the subject and you paid it back. See now why they are so attracted?

Push hard enough against GPS tracking and we will have optical systems using either LEO satellites (lots of 'em)

LEO satellite orbits are a limited resource, can't be that many.

...or solar-powered [optical tracking] drones.

Night time?

My point: for the present (and in the next 5 years), GPS tracking devices are more effective for them and more invasive for the citizens.

Re:Why would anyone complain about this? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606824)

These things are expensive - on the order of $1000

How much do the various safety and emissions control technologies incorporated into a modern motor vehicle cost? A state could require that all vehicle owners cover the cost of a GPS.

Re:Why would anyone complain about this? (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606848)

These things are expensive - on the order of $1000 plus fees for the cell phone connection.

ROFL. Expensive? To the FBI? Give me a fucking break.

Alito's spotless record (1)

snsh (968808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606490)

Any chance Alito will break his record of never seeing a police search he didn't like? Nah....

My Property. (2)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606524)

How do we even GET to the 4th amendment when in order to even place a device on your car someone has to at minimum infringe on your property rights and often trespass to do so. The argument shouldnt be is this a legal search..it should be who the hell are you to put your device on MY property and often in MY driveway.

My take (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606780)

If the feds don't bother getting a warrant, then they don't get to whine if their "suspect" decides to dispose of the device as he sees fit.

would this apply to my estranged ex-gf (2)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 3 years ago | (#36606864)

If the Supremes rule against this does that mean my routine GPS tracking of my estranged ex-GF will become illegal?

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