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GPS Tracking of State Worker Raises Privacy Issues

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the you-can-trust-us dept.

Privacy 173

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a Times Union article: "How far can state government go in keeping tabs on its employees? That's the question a mid-level appeals court will consider in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union against the state Labor Department, in the case of a fired state worker who was tracked with a GPS device that investigators secretly attached to his personal car. ... State officials tracked Cunningham's whereabouts by secretly attaching a GPS device to his BMW. The electronic tailing went beyond what would normally be termed Cunningham's work hours, since the device was on for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They even tracked him on a multi-day family vacation."

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Glad I work in the private sector. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424342)

No reputable company would ever try something this egregious .

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424372)

Indeed, Enron never tracked its employees with a GPS.

Say, how is your retirement account doing?

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (2)

errandum (2014454) | about 3 years ago | (#37424466)

I don't think tracking you with a GPS during work hours is wrong. From my understanding the problem was they were tracking him 24/7, and that's illigal.

Just making sure you're where you're supposed to be during your work hours should be expected.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (3, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 years ago | (#37424536)

without your knowledge? putting tracker on you personal car? if any executive at my employer did that to me, I'd cram said GPS far into their gastrointestinal egress, without lube. that's if I was in a good mood....

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (1)

errandum (2014454) | about 3 years ago | (#37424590)

They already use cameras and supervisors that aren't exactly there to keep track, but end up doing it.

There are companies that use rfids to keep track of their employees. I honestly see no problem in that, if it doesn't go outside the scope of my workplace.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about 3 years ago | (#37424614)

There are companies that use rfids to keep track of their employees. I honestly see no problem in that, if it doesn't go outside the scope of my workplace.

You never drive your private car outside the scope of your workplace?

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (1)

errandum (2014454) | about 3 years ago | (#37425166)

That's the point. There is nothing wrong with using whatever means someone wants to check if you're inside (they could have a chip in your employee card, for example, that'd tell them where you are at all times inside the building).

They should not have been tracking him outside of the workplace / work hours.

If you take your private car out during the time you're supposed to be working, the company should be allowed to check that, right?

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 3 years ago | (#37425574)

If you take your private car out during the time you're supposed to be working, the company should be allowed to check that, right?

In that case, if you make a private call on your cell phone during work hours the company should be able to check your call logs... by putting spyware on your phone.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (4, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 3 years ago | (#37424552)

the problem was they were tracking him 24/7, and that's illigal.

That, and attaching a device to his personal car should be considered some kind of tresspassing/vandalism.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (2)

mikehoskins (177074) | about 3 years ago | (#37425010)

> That, and attaching a device to his personal car should be considered some kind of tresspassing/vandalism.

It violates the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution, as well as the 14th Amendment, Section 1:

--------------------

Amendment IV

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

--------------------

AMENDMENT XIV
Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.

Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 years ago | (#37424642)

I don't think employers should be able to electronically monitor you at all, without your knowledge.

About 10 years ago, I had reason to look up the law. I found to my surprise that in my state, and employer can use hidden cameras and monitor your email, etc. without even telling you about it.

Of course that was 10 years ago, and things might have changed since. But I see no ethical reason why an employer should be able to monitor an employee without their knowledge. I would have a lot less problem with the idea if the law simply required that people be informed about it.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 3 years ago | (#37425312)

These days most employers have some boilerplate they hand out when you take a job that says they will do this if they feel it necessary. Really you should assume they monitoring you while you are on the job, if for no reason than protect themselves from things like that $2 billion loss UBS is stuck with.

I think this GPS tracking goes well beyond employer rights - monitoring outside the workplace is really a bit much, and I bet the courts will find this to be the case too.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424616)

Indeed, Enron never tracked its employees with a GPS.

Say, how is your retirement account doing?

How's that hopey-changey thing working out for ya?

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425018)

Where all the prosperity that would supposedly follow the Bush tax cuts?

I'm sorry it doesn't have a sophomoric rhyme attached to it, I know that reactionaries such as yourself place such value in taunts. Does it bring back memories of a being a school yard bully; I'm guessing so.

Fourteen long months to the election. You know that when Clinton was President, the right wing talk hosts whined for years. Most didn't see it as much, as it was easy to avoid such programming. However, I did, as a Republican and a news hound. By 1996 I realized that a moderate didn't have a chance in the GOP, as I found them to be pushing a reactionary platform, in 2000 I made the switch to the Democratic party.

So go ahead, keep whining. The economy doesn't really suck, but consumer spending has been sharply down for 3 years now. I'll bet that two thirds of the established adults didn't see a pay cut or were maxed out on home loans. The economic numbers say that they've been banking their money, as savings rate actually increased for the first time in decades. Soon, people will get bored with austerity, and spend. The question is can they wait another 14 long months? Doesn't really matter, as it was economics that drove me from the GOP, but the endless complaining

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425324)

Soon, people will get bored with austerity, and spend. The question is can they wait another 14 long months?

Looks like it was too much to bear. People have been charging up a storm [time.com] this year.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 years ago | (#37425726)

Where all the prosperity that would supposedly follow the Bush tax cuts?

China.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (1)

increment1 (1722312) | about 3 years ago | (#37424508)

GPS tracking is nothing. At my company they just set you up to have an affair and then use the photographic evidence to blackmail you into doing whatever they want.

They don't need any evidence to fire you, since they know you would never sue them for wrongful dismissal (even if you happen to be a lawyer).

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (3, Funny)

Hope Thelps (322083) | about 3 years ago | (#37424540)

At my company they just set you up to have an affair

Oh, you poor thing. You couldn't just say "no" for fear of hurting his feelings?

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | about 3 years ago | (#37424562)

Okay, I guess it was a reference to the Firm. The idea that you can be "set up" to have an affair as opposed to making the choice when the opportunity arises annoyed me too much to follow the rest of the post.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 3 years ago | (#37424656)

That is the country we live in now.

Remember it is not your fault. Everything is the fault of racism, sexism, ageism, big corporations that make your food taste too good, evil lenders that gave you a loan, and those God damned fucking tea partiers.

Do not fret we in the government understand that you poor people are too stupid to think for yourselves. We will take care of it for you.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (3, Informative)

tragedy (27079) | about 3 years ago | (#37425142)

Well, actually, I can think of plenty of ways you could be "set up" to "have an affair" as long as "have an affair" remains in quotes. Quite simply, a supervisor at work could require you to work late on various nights but arrange it in such a way that you have no proof that you really worked late. Then they could bring out someone they've hired to claim to have had an affair with you and tell your spouse that you were lying about working late. Maybe they could give you a company credit card as well, then throw some hotel charges onto it.

People with lots of power over you, like employers, have plenty of power to frame you all sorts of things. For example, if they wanted to fire you for whistleblowing, they could set up an environment where employees are made comfortable by supervisors leaving 5 minutes early every day, but marking their full hours on their timesheet. Then they could gather "evidence" against you, such as by tracking your car with a gps tracking device, and then fire you, or maybe even prosecute you, for fraudulently filling out your timecard. Who would believe you? It's a time-honoured tradition for getting rid of unwanted employees: give them implicit, or even explicit (but undocumented) permission to do something that's technically against policy, then bust them for violating the policy.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37425322)

It could be a false choice, depending on the circumstance. Sure, they had a choice, they could what we want or get thrown into a pit of snakes and scorpions.

Re:Glad I work in the private sector. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37426004)

GPS tracking is nothing. At my company they just set you up to have an affair and then use the photographic evidence to blackmail you into doing whatever they want.

...Like seducing the new employees. Does it start with an N and end with an A? I've heard similar stories before.

What was the state thinking?!? (2)

bignetbuy (1105123) | about 3 years ago | (#37424358)

What reasons could the state possibly have had to put a GPS tracker on an employee's personal vehicle? And track the vehicle outside of business hours? This stinks of big brother and privacy intrusions. What an employee does on their own personal time and in their own personal car should be their own personal business. I could be buying hookers and blow every weekend but if I show up on time during the week and do my job, the state should have no say in the matter.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (2)

nharmon (97591) | about 3 years ago | (#37424426)

This appears to be a case where the employee was using his vehicle for work-related transportation, and his supervisors began to suspect that the hours he was reporting were not the hours he was actually working. So instead of hiring someone to follow the employee (read: expensive), they attached a cheap GPS tracker and then retrieved it days or weeks later.

Maybe a better solution would have been to provide him a state vehicle with a hidden GPS tracker. :P

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (4, Insightful)

Amouth (879122) | about 3 years ago | (#37424514)

Maybe a better solution would have been to provide him a state vehicle with a hidden GPS tracker. :P

Or an Obvious one, functional or not. That might have got him back into line if there was wrong doing, or show he wasn't worth keeping, either way it would have been far cheaper than a lawsuit even if they win it.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424538)

What would it matter? He was apparently a FIRED worker. Meaning he no longer was with them when the tracker was on there...

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | about 3 years ago | (#37425116)

If it actually was that important to them to find out whether he was working or not, they could have simply installed a visible camera at the entrance of his workplace.

Besides being way over the top surveillance, the GPS device would only tell them where his car was. So what happens if someone drops him off at work, or if he cycles to work on occasion, or if he is using his wife's car sometimes?

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | about 3 years ago | (#37424958)

No.

The appropriate response is to counsel the employee about perceived work concerns and ask him/her to make changes to prevent termination. Then keep doing the passive monitoring (or using more precise monitoring that you got VOLUNTARY agreement from the subject to use) and see if things change. If performance remains low or the subject is still showing signs of malingering, terminate employment.

Respect and communication is far more ideal that going behind and literally creeping on people. If they underperform, replace them; no need to drag it into an example setting situation or unethical relationship.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (3, Insightful)

increment1 (1722312) | about 3 years ago | (#37424430)

As alluded to in the article, they were looking into his timesheets and his assertion that he worked odd hours.

It looks like the state thought he was lying about his hours, and so used the GPS tracker to catch him in a lie concerning hours worked. It seems a touch excessive, but government jobs likely require a high standard of proof in order to fire an employee.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (2)

flaming error (1041742) | about 3 years ago | (#37424544)

> government jobs likely require a high standard of proof

Or at least a reason that sounds better than "we fired him for being a whistleblower."

Although somehow, "we gps-tracked a whistleblower's car 24/7" doesn't sound much better.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (1)

joocemann (1273720) | about 3 years ago | (#37425022)

Whistleblower? Link please. I'm interested to read.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425192)

Perhaps you should RTFA?

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37425348)

well, there is a link in the fucking summary.
RTFA.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 years ago | (#37425936)

4th paragraph of TFA.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424940)

but government jobs likely require a high standard of proof in order to fire an employee.

Especially NY State Government jobs. In his case though it should be easier: according to See through NY [seethroughny.net] (search his surname with "Agency/Area" of Department of Labor) he hadn't gotten a raise in 4 years, meaning he was most likely a non-union employee (all the major NYS unions have had a steady stream of 3% annual raises for the past decade or so).

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (1)

mclearn (86140) | about 3 years ago | (#37424460)

It doesn't sound like you read the article, but your questions are still just as valid. TFA states that they had not exhausted all non-GPS solutions to tracking him. But then it fails to go on the say why they felt they needed to track him in ANY capacity in the first place.

...but if I show up on time during the week and do my job

The TFA does indicate the employee "filed improper time sheets" and eluded to the fact that a "...pattern of misconduct and the difficulty of constant in-person surveillance justified the technique". Guess what, folks? It is not justified. Someone should be fired for this.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (3, Interesting)

idontgno (624372) | about 3 years ago | (#37424724)

TFA states that they had not exhausted all non-GPS solutions to tracking him.

Even that formulation misses a critical point: The objective which would have been meaningful to their goal (proving timecard fraud) was not "track him"; the appropriate objective is "verify workplace attendance". The phrase in TFA (yeah, I know, no one reads that... just go with it for a second) "worked odd hours at his job" (emphasis mine) indicates that finding out where he was at any time should not have been the objective... only finding out when he was in the office. (He wasn't working from someplace else, since the presumption is "at his job"... at his place of employment.)

So GPS tracking is solving the wrong problem. A webcam monitoring ingress and egress to his office, or computer system logs... a physical access control like a card entry system would have gone a long ways towards determining the real information they needed.

GPS was the wrong solution because it was answering the wrong question. It's not justified.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 3 years ago | (#37424776)

I think I just realized you made the same point as me, and probably better. Oh, well, it's late, it's Friday. Maybe some moderator will oblige by uprating you or downrating me as redundant, which would be OK by me.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (-1, Flamebait)

Tailhook (98486) | about 3 years ago | (#37424672)

What reasons

He was defrauding the government by lying about his hours to collect undue compensation. The state investigated his work habits by tracking his vehicle. He was eventually fired based on the evidence, which he does not dispute, as he is not seeking reinstatement or back pay. These employees can not be fired without extraordinary evidence; the sort produced by, say, tracking a vehicle.

He has good PR and has been successful at making the knees of people like you jerk wildly. Your reaction is the reason many, many government employees defraud the government every day with impunity. Your reaction is also why he will eventually be awarded a big fat settlement at taxpayer expense; probably something on the order of 10-15 teachers salaries.

Thanks. You've been a big help.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (2)

idontgno (624372) | about 3 years ago | (#37424808)

The state investigated his work habits by tracking his vehicle. He was eventually fired based on the evidence, which he does not dispute, as he is not seeking reinstatement or back pay. These employees can not be fired without extraordinary evidence; the sort produced by, say, tracking a vehicle.

Or, don't forget, waterboarding. That's pretty good at getting results, too. I bet we can get the guy to admit to being Al Qaeda's inside man in NYC if we're willing to foot the water bill.

GPS tracking is a potentially applicable tool for... tracking locations. It is hunting flies with shotguns for the purposes of monitoring workplace attendance, with the lovely side effect of shredding constitutionally-protected privacy rights.

Your argument seems to be the same kind of weak apologist crap we see in "Think of the children" or "The terrorists will win!" scaremongering. The ends do not justify every means. Otherwise the Bill of Rights is a waste of ink.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (1)

Score Whore (32328) | about 3 years ago | (#37424914)

While there a circuit split exists on the question of warrantless GPS tracking, it has long been settled that what you do on the public road isn't private and there are no protections against monitoring your whereabouts in public.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425596)

Problem: Employee claiming weird hours

Solution: track his car everywhere it goes, regardless of whether he was driving it or not (lending it to his wife, leaving it at the garage for servicing).

There are a few weaknesses in that solution. He's being paid to work 40 hours a week, find a way to verify that he is working 40 hours a week. Not follow his car like a bunch of amateur voyeurs.

Cameras at the entrances and exits of the building he works. You can look at the video feed a few minutes before and after his supposed odd-hour session.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 years ago | (#37425980)

How about when he parks in a private garage?

You're wrong RTFA (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37425430)

"He was defrauding the government by lying about his hours to collect undue compensation."
alledgedly, and he does duispute it.

" He was eventually fired based on the evidence, which he does not dispute, as he is not seeking reinstatement or back pay. "
Not exactly:

"Stoughton, in a hearing Thursday before the Appellate Division Third Judicial Department, said she wasn't arguing that Cunningham get his $115,000 job back, but that he should receive another hearing without the GPS-based evidence."

The hearing will determin if he gets his job back. He isn't siuning about gettng his job back, he is suing to get a fair trial regard ig he shoudl ahve been removed in the first place. These are different things.

" Your reaction is also why he will eventually be awarded a big fat settlement at taxpayer expense; "
WTF do you base THAT on? this hearing has nothing to do with any settlemsn iother the getting his job back, and presumable, awarded what ever pay he would have earned.

In the guise of belittling someone for their 'knee jerk' reaction, you made a knee jerk reaction. The article should take the average persona bout 45 seconds to read. You should have take 5 minute to read the article before posting.

And teachers salary come from a different pool.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425504)

My father was a state employee (cop and then a college professor) nearly all of his life, I've worked for big corporations and small businesses. Few people enter into government service looking for 'great money', but stability. I'm sure that the vast majority perform their jobs better than the standards that I've seen in any business. Why do reactionaries consistently push the narrative that government workers are typically lazy, incompetent and thieves?

Oh, yea, they're playing silly games, shouting out rude names.

Re:What was the state thinking?!? (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about 3 years ago | (#37425788)

Just because he may have been defrauding the government doesn't mean we should condone illegal and unconstitutional methods in order to try to find him out.

Gay (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424360)

This is some gay shit. Even Rob Malda is less gay than this shit.

Re:Gay (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424478)

This is some gay shit. Even Rob Malda is less gay than this shit.

Hey, that crap might have been funny a few weeks back but it isn't any more. For those that don't know, Apple founder Rob Malda died a couple of weeks back. There was a big tribute to her on /.

How is this different ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424382)

Than the police attaching a GPS to a suspects car? He was suspected of fraud. But then again he may not have been the driver.

I hope SCOTUS slams this practice hard, otherwise there is no end to how big brother can track us.

Re:How is this different ... (2)

Roberticus (1237374) | about 3 years ago | (#37424670)

I wouldn't hold my breath hoping for a worker-friendly, anti-Big Brother decision from the current Supreme Court.

Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424386)

... in a perfect world.

Prayer breakfast?!!! every one of these Christian Talliban folks should be charged with violating the firewall between church and state.

These same Christian totalitarian ass hats who then tailed him with GPS should all be locked up too.

Tired of Christian fundamentalists destroying our country. If they have their way, brown shirts will be goose stepping down Pennsylvania Ave.

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424436)

I am not Christian .. but I can say the same about Liberal atheists.... Especially that both sides are narrow minded blockheads that need to keep their opinions to themselves. Neither side has the right to pressure people.. that includes you too.

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 3 years ago | (#37424846)

Sure they do. Everyone is free to pressure people via ranting and raving. Unless the one doing the pressuring is "the government" (or an agent thereof) in which case pressuring someone to perform (or not perform) religious acts is not just illegal but unconstitutional.

I'm pretty sure the Coward you are replying to isn't acting as an agent of the government and hence is well within his rights to pressure people (via legal mechanisms like talking to them, using a soapbox and ranting, etc) to give up on religion.

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (0)

hot soldering iron (800102) | about 3 years ago | (#37424534)

Sorry, but you have that backwards...

If you read some of the commentary that went on during the debates about the proposed separation of Church and State, it was to protect peoples' religion from the corrupting influence of politics, not to keep God out of our government.

Contrary to your belief, it's not "Christian Fundamentalists" destroying our country, it's extremists of every stripe. Including intolerant atheist/agnostic "asshats".

I don't normally talk about religion in public, but I do talk about incorrect knowledge.

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (1)

VIPERsssss (907375) | about 3 years ago | (#37424638)

Can you point us to some of that commentary?

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37424674)

Usually atheist/agnostic "asshats" are the ones who are extremely tolerant. I invite you to actually research this topic, but I know you won't. Better to do what the guy in the funny/shiny clothes says some ancient bad sci-fi anthology says.

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | about 3 years ago | (#37424862)

being atheist or religious has nothing to do with of being an asshat.

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37424890)

On the contrary, I think the ability to readily believe what other people tell you exists contrary to all reason and evidence to the contrary tends to predispose people to being asshats.

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | about 3 years ago | (#37425328)

what you just described is gullibility/stupidity. it's not exclusive to religious people (I may be mistaken there). if that means asshat you're right. I used/understood the word as a synonym of asshole.
That aside (and I'm not a religious person at all), religion is more like not some exhaustive guidelines/basic laws to live with (a little bit like a constitution) what is derived from that is man made (if we accept for the sake of the argument that the said constitution is divine) and therefor may be very subjective and biased to serve some given agenda of the day, be it good or bad (a bit like Constitution / PATRIOT ACT).

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424932)

AHAHAAH what? The most intolerant twats I've ever met are atheists.

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 3 years ago | (#37425212)

Even if your take on the separation of Church and State is correct (and I don't agree that it was only intended to stop government messing with religion and not vice versa), requiring employees to go to a politicians prayer breakfast fails to "protect peoples' religion from the corrupting influence of politics". They might not share a religion, or at least have religious differences, with those running the prayer meeting. For example, they may be atheists or agnostics. Or Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Wiccan, Pastafarian, Catholic, etc. Or they might be expecting a politician to also include the US flag somehow in the proceedings and consider that a form of idolatry.

Or hey, maybe they just don't want to go.

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 3 years ago | (#37425254)

Poppycock. In addition to the First Amendment which prohibits establishment of a state religion, there is Article VI:

"no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Clearly the Founders intended a very bright line to separate church and state.

Jefferson wrote in his law guaranteeing religious freedom in Virginia:

Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities. And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right"

So it is a NATURAL RIGHT to be free to make one's choice and opinion regarding religion, FREE of government influence, and government office should never be subject to requirements of religious tests. Nor should any support for religion be mandated by taxation.

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (1)

Omestes (471991) | about 3 years ago | (#37426112)

So it is a NATURAL RIGHT...

I'm not disagreeing with your point. I actually agree 100%. That said:

WTF is a "Natural Right"? In nature, as far as I can tell, you have the right to attempt to survive, and that's about it. Beyond that, I can't see it. There are not natural rights, only social constructions that we mostly agree with as a culture. I have never heard a convincing argument for the a priori existence of rights of any type, and I went to school for that kind of stuff. Please explain what a "natural right" is, how it is derived, and "freedom of religion" fits into this.

Not to sound like a philosophical pedant, but proclaiming something as a right doesn't have that much force really, and we bandy the term around so much that what force it could have has pretty much completely evaporated.

Re:Sounds like a lot of folks should see jail time (1)

Toonol (1057698) | about 3 years ago | (#37424558)

I'm an atheist, and I'm worried about YOUR fundamentalism.

Short answer... (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 3 years ago | (#37424392)

not as far as they did. Or at least not in my totally non-legally binding opinion. While there are some jobs in which you are never truly off the clock, once you're on your own time and outside of the business environs you're privacy should be covered by that whole 4th amendment and other stuff. Unless of course as per terms of employment you give consent.

Employment agreement? (1)

mallyn (136041) | about 3 years ago | (#37424402)

Is this type of stuff covered in his employment agreement? That can decide the case.

Re:Employment agreement? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 3 years ago | (#37424482)

Except that the employer in this case is a state government and there already are limitations imposed on what governments can do.

Re:Employment agreement? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 3 years ago | (#37425808)

Not just the government. You can agree to give up a constitutional right in an employment agreement, but you can't actually give it up. Even if he said "Yes, I give up my right to privacy outside of the workplace", he still has the right to privacy outside the workplace.

Acting like this is a new thing... (2)

MimeticLie (1866406) | about 3 years ago | (#37424412)

Tracking personal vehicles without a warrant? Why not? If it's good enough for one agency [wired.com] of the government, why not for all of them?

New York (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 years ago | (#37424424)

New York's court of appeals [acslaw.org] has already determined that GPS tracking by law enforcement is illegal without a warrant. Since the powers of cops are a superset of the powers of an individual, this case should be a slam dunk for the plaintiff.

Re:New York (1)

curio_city (1972556) | about 3 years ago | (#37424954)

I may be missing something about the process here, but if it's such a slam dunk, why is an appeals court hearing about it? Shouldn't that case have been cited in a motion to exclude the GPS evidence? Or are state court of appeals decisions not binding in lower courts?

Re:New York (1)

hey! (33014) | about 3 years ago | (#37425172)

... Since the powers of cops are a superset of the powers of an individual ...

That's not precisely true. Actually it's just not true at all. Not even close.

The powers of police and of some private individual are overlapping sets, but that's not even close to relevant, because what's going on here is an "administrative search". There are rules governing such searches, but they're looser than rules in criminal matters. That's why the TSA (ho aren't cops) can frisk you at the security checkpoint of an airport without a warrant or probable cause.

Other cases of administrative search include:

* Drug testing pilots or subway drivers without any specific reason to suspect the individual.
* School administrators searching student lockers.
* Health inspection of restaurants.
* Safety inspections of nuclear power plants.

I have a feeling that putting a GPS on a private automobile falls outside the normal scope of what an administrative search allows, but that'll probably go to court and who knows what the courts will make of it.

The GPS data seems relevant at least to the purpose of the investigation, which is to find out whether the guy is falsifying his timesheet and travel documents. That said, I know one person who works for a state agency that requires employees to put in signed timecards for the week early on Friday morning, including the time they're going to knock off that afternoon and any time they might end up spending on the weekend. So it's quite common for employees of that agency to falsify their timecards for the next week so they get credit for the time they work.

Re:New York (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 years ago | (#37425218)

Ah, yes. Administrative law. Nothing but an end run around the constitution. You can't just make up a new body of law and pretend the constitution doesn't apply to it. Either consent of the individual is required to affix something to his property or it is not. If it is, then you must get a warrant to do so. If it is not, then anyone may do so. Anything else is unconstitutional.

Re:New York (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 years ago | (#37425480)

The government pretends the Constitution doesn't apply on a routing basis nowadays.

Re:New York (2)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 years ago | (#37425530)

Yes, I know. It's surprising how many people deny that fact. It's important to point that out on a regular basis to make it harder to deny. Counter the Big Lie with the Big Truth.

Sounds like what Cisco did to me (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424432)

Ex-Cisco employee here. Anon for a reason. They planted a gps tracker in my laptop and pushed down gps tracking software to my cell phone (personal phone, but attached to their email servers). All reporting back to some database servers in Cisco's corporate datacenters.

Found this, confronted them, and negotiated a significant settlement for not going public with the info. Don't care if they track me down now based on this posting, though, as they just laid off a ton of my great friends who remained. So, hopefully this will gain traction and other Cisco employees will look into this unethical (and illegal?) tracking of employees.

And you don't even want to know what kind of monitoring stuff they snuck into their IP Phones... If the public ever figures that out, Cisco has a great cover story ready: there's so much legacy code from Selsius (the original manufacturer of the phone technology) that it was cleverly hidden and unnoticed through years of QA testing.

Re:Sounds like what Cisco did to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424572)

holy crap, is this for real? mod up so Cisco employees can chime in

Re:Sounds like what Cisco did to me (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 3 years ago | (#37424664)

Found this, confronted them, and negotiated a significant settlement for not going public with the info. Don't care if they track me down now based on this posting, though, as they just laid off a ton of my great friends who remained..

You don't care if they track you down and declare you're in breach of a legally binding contract and take you to court to get the settlement money back...?

Re:Sounds like what Cisco did to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424698)

Something tells me the courts would be on my side if it came to that. The anti-cisco sentiment these days is far greater. And they have thousands of newly laid off employees who would be ready to jump onto a class action suit against their former employer.

Besides, I already spent the settlement money. :-p

Re:Sounds like what Cisco did to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424820)

That's a pretty dumb attitude. Something tells me the court doesn't care what "sentiment" is, or where the money is...

You will simply owe them that amount, with possible legal recourse, up to and including wage garnishment and asset seizure as remedy for making payable said debt.

Re:Sounds like what Cisco did to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424966)

And they'll admit in court that they had this agreement regarding tracking.

Quite a gamble to make all that public? no?

Re:Sounds like what Cisco did to me (2)

sjames (1099) | about 3 years ago | (#37426010)

Probably not, that would require making the incident a matter of public record and still wouldn't prove that the AC here is the same person and not just a good guesser.

Re:Sounds like what Cisco did to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37426098)

Probably not if the tracking stuff is fraudulent anyway and not able to be covered by any standing contract

although that might make him an accomplice hrm.

Re:Sounds like what Cisco did to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37426116)

Maybe they've heard of the Streisand Effect.

Re:Sounds like what Cisco did to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425534)

Can you elaborate on said things in the phone?

Like is this beyond phone admins being able to listen in on phones in a company without oversight? Or is this something secret and completely unknown that uses some means to send phone data back to the gov?

If it's the former I already expected so. The latter not so much.

Give us more!

Fan-tastic... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#37424476)

"Kate Nepveu, an assistant solicitor general, said the state realized the GPS tracking was intrusive, but Cunningham's pattern of misconduct and the difficulty of constant in-person surveillance justified the technique."

Yup, we knew that we had no business doing it; but he was a Bad Guy and doing our jobs is Hard. Cry, cry, pity me... Is there any sort of procedural abuse that one couldn't justify with exactly that line? Virtually everything we call "due process" is inconvenient for the prosecution, and I've never heard of somebody going after someone that they wouldn't at least say was guilty of misconduct...

Re:Fan-tastic... (1)

Simulant (528590) | about 3 years ago | (#37424748)


What's truly fucked up here is that they felt that they couldn't fire him simply because of his "pattern of misconduct". They appear to have felt that they needed more proof or something.

I'm not familiar with the New York State government but if it is anything like the federal government, it's nearly impossible to get fired, even with criminal misconduct. Our government will never be more efficient unless they fix this.

I do not defend the GPS tracking but nor do I automatically assume that this guy shouldn't have been fired.

Re:Fan-tastic... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37425078)

What's truly fucked up here is that they felt that they couldn't fire him simply because of his "pattern of misconduct". They appear to have felt that they needed more proof or something.

Since his initial misconduct was publicly complaining about being pressured to join prayer meetings, they had to find something else to justify firing him. At least that's his story.

Re:Fan-tastic... (3, Insightful)

Asic Eng (193332) | about 3 years ago | (#37425138)

What's truly fucked up here is that they felt that they couldn't fire him simply because of his "pattern of misconduct". They appear to have felt that they needed more proof or something.

I interpret that to mean "there wasn't actually a pattern of misconduct, we went on a fishing expedition hoping to find one".

Re:Fan-tastic... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#37425288)

pattern of misconduct does not mean misconduct. It means there was something(s) observed that might have been misconduct.

They went overboard, and they didn't need to do so.

Our government is far more efficient then the media would have you believe.

In fact, it does a great many things far better then any one else in the world.
Look at budget reports, TCO, and audit reports.

Yes, something get out of hand. SOmetime for good reasonl sometime not, but theya re in the minority.

Just so you know, in a formet life I worked very closely with provate a gavernment accounting book. The government books were alyes tughter, more accountable, and hardly ahve in discrepicies. Private sector on the other hand, is often a mess. I routinly saw expenditures ont he book thatno one could track.

In one case, I found a 15 Million dollar year expenditure that had been going on for 10 years,and no one knew where the money went. At it s very well known company. Something everyone who wheres shoes has heard of.

Aftera few eyars of that work , I canme to realize that the government, as a whole, is very, very good.

There is a perception issue that' s an issue. For example, in maby government agency., if someone like their job, there is no rpessure to move up. This minimized the Peter Principle, and you end up with an extremely knwoledgable employee.
People in the private sector often see this as lazy becasue they ahve a up or out attitude.

I now work for a city government. I work hard, do boring work that save citizens lot's of money, and I am always asked to find way to increase efficiency.

It's boring because the tech is old.

I make less money* then I would in the private sector, but I have a life after 40 hours.

*30%, statistically.

Re:Fan-tastic... (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 3 years ago | (#37425860)

You forgot to include:

Posted from my iPhone.

Simple... (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 3 years ago | (#37424500)

No warrant, no evidence... Oh, wait...

Overtime! (4, Funny)

peacefinder (469349) | about 3 years ago | (#37424704)

If his employer was tracking him, it must have been for work purposes, right? So since he was on the clock, he should at least be paid his contracted rate for all the time he was tracked.

Re:Overtime! (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 years ago | (#37425468)

You may be saying this to be amusing but I'd be willing to bet he could find a lawyer to sue the state for backpay.

Re:Overtime! (1)

peacefinder (469349) | about 3 years ago | (#37425718)

True, but "a willing lawyer" isn't a tough standard to meet. :-)

Still - in all seriousness - it's hard to imagine a jury who wouldn't be on his side.

Over the line (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 3 years ago | (#37424782)

Even if a company or government agency is putting trackers on company vehicles, I think the employees using them should be made aware they're being tracked.

But to put a tracker on someone's private vehicle without notifying them? Even the FBI isn't allowed to do that!

Re:Over the line (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37424886)

But to put a tracker on someone's private vehicle without notifying them? Even the FBI isn't allowed to do that!

That's news to me. [slashdot.org]

This is Stalking (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 years ago | (#37425460)

There should be criminal charges here. Tracking a vehicle 24/7 is stalking. If I did this to someone's vehicle you can bet they'd throw me in jail. Just because he was an employee doesn't make it legal.

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