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Senator Introduces Bill To Stop Warrantless GPS Tracking

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the location-location-location dept.

Privacy 133

bs0d3 writes "Right now the police and FBI are able to use GPS tracking devices, stingrays, and other tracking technologies without a warrant. They can read your personal emails without a warrant, they can recall your phone call history, all without a warrant. These are clear violations of the fourth amendment, but time and time again the courts are ruling that the fourth amendment doesn't protect people who use modern technology. This week Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Jason Chaffetz (D-UT) announced a bill with bipartisan support called the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act. It provides sorely needed legal clarity for the use of electronically-obtained location data that can be used to track and log the location and movements of individual Americans. The G.P.S. Act is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Constitution Project, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The full text of the bill can be read online."

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Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (4, Informative)

mykos (1627575) | more than 2 years ago | (#37798858)

Seems like every time something good happens for people's rights, Ron Wyden is always there getting it started. Can't we just clone him and replace the entire senate?

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

rish87 (2460742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37798930)

I'm surprised to see an IL politician involved, I currently live in IL and these guys are usually horrible.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799364)

No doubt he's pressuring the stingray makers for contributions.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799476)

I was surprised by this also, I just like living in the 'Land of Corruption' opps I mean 'Land of Lincoln'. Horrible is the word I would use, but I guess it fits also.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (4, Insightful)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799026)

Best comment I've seen about him yet (from an anonymous commenter on another site):

"I'd like to order a couple of Wydens for my state, is Oregon going to be making any more or do you guys want the monopoly on politicians with heads outside their asses?"

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799102)

"I'd like to order a couple of Wydens for my state, is Oregon going to be making any more or do you guys want the monopoly on politicians with heads outside their asses?"

You do realize you are talking about the fellow who, when running against Gordon Smith for the senate, promised to run a clean, above-board respectable campaign based on issues and not mudslinging? And then two days later the "Smith killed a kid" ads started showing up?

Smith owns a food processing company. A young worker there died in an accident. The ads made it out that Smith was personally responsible for the death. Two days after those ads appeared, Smith appeared in ads with the kids parents, who supported Smith and made it clear it was an accident and Smith wasn't at fault.

Yeah, that's the guy. You can have him.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (2)

JohnFen (1641097) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799260)

I don't remember that, and I can't find it online. Citation? What I do remember from that campaign is that Smith ran a very dirty campaign and Wyden's grew increasingly mud-slinging in response. So what you say could be essentially true, although I suspect a bit exaggerated.

Dirty campaigns aside, Wyden's performance in office has been, overall, pretty fantastic. There aren't many politicians nowadays who represent actual human beings, and he's one of them.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799586)

This [google.com] is about all I can find.

The Wyden campaign was the one that started the dirty ads. As for representing "actual human beings", well, thanks so much for the kind words. He doesn't represent me very well. Does that make me not a human in your opinion?

He is great for the liberals that make up the two major cities in Oregon. He grabs onto a lot of hot-button issues but then never delivers. He's got the union backing, but apparently we should believe that they wouldn't listen to him regarding running this campaign ad. Plausible deniablility?

Of course, your opinion of him may differ, and that's why the US is so nice.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799280)

But, were they being run by his campaign or by a group supporting him? The reason I ask is that there's been tons of money in recent years for various swiftboating outfits to engage in that sort of behavior, they're beyond the control of the politicians campaign and can raise a lot of money independently.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800208)

But, were they being run by his campaign or by a group supporting him? The reason I ask is that there's been tons of money in recent years for various swiftboating outfits to engage in that sort of behavior, they're beyond the control of the politicians campaign and can raise a lot of money independently.

I agree with you that Citizens United was a very bad decision.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (4, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799306)

I would vote for a hundred senators who run mudslinging campaigns but still do their jobs well than to continually elect citizen haters who blow rainbows up my ass every six years.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799384)

whining is for losers. Politics is hardball. No need to apologize for throwing "shit" at your opponent.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800158)

Smith owns a food processing company. A young worker there died in an accident. The ads made it out that Smith was personally responsible for the death.

Whether or not Wyden launched some dirty tricks campaign with a false campaign ad (it turns out he did not), when you own a company and a kid dies in an accident in your plant, you are personally responsible.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800350)

How? Did you personally cause the kid to die?

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800968)

How? Did you personally cause the kid to die?

Me? No. There have been no children killed at my business.

They way I understand it, the kid was killed at this candidate's, Smith's, business. And unless the kid said "Hey, watch this!" and then leaped into a meat grinder, then Smith bears personal responsibility.

I'm not talking about legal responsibility. I'm talking about responsibility. When you own a business that provides you with profit, you are responsible for what happens there personally, the fiction of the corporate entity notwithstanding.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799090)

Maybe. But I have to wonder if it's just toothless legislation.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799342)

Or worse, it could open the door to collecting the information using some exotic class of secret warrant that can be issued in bulk and retroactively by a special judicial representative chosen to rubber stamp such documents.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

thomkt (59664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799516)

Or worse, it could open the door to collecting the information using some exotic class of secret warrant that can be issued in bulk and retroactively by a special judicial representative chosen to rubber stamp such documents.

I haven't read the bill, but given Wyden's stance on warnentless searches and the way the Justice Department is interrupting the PATRIOT Act, it wouldn't surprise me if this bill addressed this issue as well

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800538)

I know, right? Even conservatives like him.

There are others (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800736)

Ron Wyden isn't the only Congressman who has at least the consistent appearance of motives to champion the Common Good; there are others. Another two that most readily come to mind are Kucinich of Ohio and McDermott of Washington (State).

These three at least need to be held up as examples of what result we should get from electing people to "lead" us. Too many of the bastards quickly forget that WE HIRED THEM.

Re:Ron Wyden is always involved in these things (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37801066)

That dandy, but tell me this... why do we need to pass a Bill to stop someone (in this case, the FBI) from breaking a Law?

Reading the TFA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37798868)

No one has posted yet. Can it be everyone is too busy reading TFA?

Re:Reading the TFA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37799122)

No one has posted yet. Can it be everyone is too busy reading TFA?

Don't be ridiculous. This is Slashdot... nobody reads TFA

Rights? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37798894)

but time and time again the courts are ruling that the fourth amendment doesn't protect people who use modern technology.

If that is a fact then the "right to bear arms" doesn't apply to modern weapons either.

Mmmmm... Bear arms. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37799022)

Excellent bbq'd.

Re:Rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37799098)

Which is why it's illegal for me to own a nuclear weapon. Modern guns all use principles that have been around since before the USA had a second amendment. The principles behind modern technologies are only 70 maybe 80 years old?

Re:Rights? (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799184)

Which is why it's illegal for me to own a nuclear weapon. Modern guns all use principles that have been around since before the USA had a second amendment. The principles behind modern technologies are only 70 maybe 80 years old?

True, we never would have won the Revolutionary War without the good old M16.

Re:Rights? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37799206)

Nuclear weapons are illegal due to other reasons, and your reasoning is incorrect.

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.

Samuel Colt invented the first revolver - named after its revolving cylinder. He was issued a U.S. patent in 1836 for the Colt firearm equipped with a revolving cylinder containing five or six bullets with an innovative cocking device.

So by your reasoning the Revolver is covered as a modern weapon.

Re:Rights? (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800248)

It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.

But it wasn't until the 1980s that it was taken to mean that individuals have the right to own and carry weapons.

Before then, no legal scholars, no Supreme Court justices, no legislative body actually asserted the notion that the 2nd amendment guaranteed individuals the right to own and carry weapons.

" A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..." and all that.

Re:Rights? (2)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800622)

That's just wrong. There were multiple states that required individuals to have weapons at the time of the formation of the United States. Not only did private individuals own small arms, some owned cannons as well.

Re:Rights? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37801042)

There were multiple states that required individuals to have weapons at the time of the formation of the United States. Not only did private individuals own small arms, some owned cannons as well.

That has nothing to do with a municipality or other community government deciding that there should be no guns in a community.

Putting aside the seemingly endless argument over "what the founding fathers intended", I don't see anything in the 2nd Amendment that should prevent a community from deciding that guns should not be owned within its boundaries. And there were no Supreme Court cases affirming this "right to own and carry guns" until the 1980s. So if you are to believe the "Second Amendment Activists", everyone from the ratification of the Constitution until the 1980s just had it wrong, and it was the sage legal mind, John Ashcroft who straightened everything out.

I'm not worried, though. I think we've been in something of a period of heightened political insanity since January of 1980, and I expect that at some point, there will be a renewal of common sense at some point, as has happened at other times in US history. I suspect Mr Cornelius and countertrolling will strongly disagree with that last statement (that there has ever been common sense in the US) but the way I see it, every so often there are times when our better nature comes to the fore. At least until the next round of insanity. It's interesting that the periods of insanity always seem to be set off by a small subset of wealthy and powerful people and/or corporations, but that's another discussion.

ERRATA (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37801052)

Sorry, the first sentence of the third paragraph should read "...January of 1981", not "1980".

Re:Rights? (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#37801082)

Whether or not states required individuals to have weapons (or if anyone owned cannons) has just about nothing to do with whether or not the 2nd amendment has been interpreted to protect individual gun owner rights. The OP may be somewhat correct in a backwards kind of way, in that gun control legislation hadn't required much of an interpretation of the 2nd until mid/late 20th century in the US. They used the 14th amendment to eliminate reconstruction era gun control that targeted blacks.

Re:Rights? (1)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800668)

You're completely off. Any self-respecting history of the Bill of Rights contradicts directly everything you just suggested.

Re:Rights? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800934)

Any self-respecting history of the Bill of Rights contradicts directly everything you just suggested.

As late as 1991, conservative Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger referred to gun lobby propaganda on this issue as "one of the greatest pieces of fraudâ¦on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime."

In fact, from the Supreme Court's unanimous Miller decision in 1939 until 1991, all federal appeals courts, whether dominated by liberals or conservatives, have agreed that the Second Amendment does not confer gun rights on individuals. The NRA view, opposed even by such right-wing judges as Robert Bork, has been consistently rejected.

The very first US Attorney General who put forth an individual right to own guns based on the 2nd Amendment was John Ashcroft, in the 1980s.

An "individual's right to own guns" is a bogus position, pushed by the first of the powerful corporate lobbies, the NRA. Their lobbying efforts on this front were the model for corporate lobbying since then, that has resulted in a fractured and dissipate body politic, where tradition and a successful social contract has been replaced by big money bribing politicians, including the nine politicians who wear black robes.

You won't find any grass roots outcry for any "right of the individual to own and carry guns" until the NRA created one.

The Founders were a very specific and thoughtful group. If they wanted an individual right to own guns they would have written it that way. Just as if they wanted corporations to be people and money to be speech, they could very easily have codified and ratified such language. They did not.

Re:Rights? (1)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 2 years ago | (#37801172)

Just out of curiosity, what does the 2nd amendment actually say in normal english? Specifically who/what is protected by the 2nd amendment?

Re:Rights? (1)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 2 years ago | (#37801220)

I said "history of the Bill of Rights". Nice straw-man though.

Re:Rights? (1)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800558)

Sorta. If you're up on your rifle history, the first widespread, reliable autoloading rifles weren't available until almost the exact same time as the transistor (1950's).

Re:Rights? (2)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799156)

Actually you are correct. That is indeed how that amendment has been applied.

You are not allowed to have fully automatic weapons, nor armored vehicles or any number of modern weapons.

Even the semi-automatic version of the P-90 is not able to be sold to civilians, there is a civilian model that has had a longer barrel added, but just making it semi-automatic wasn't enough to make it legal. There are plenty of weapons of that type that are much shorter, but how modern the P-90 is apparently scares the regulators.

Re:Rights? (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800534)

There are plenty of weapons of that type that are much shorter, but how modern the P-90 is apparently scares the regulators.

Regulators who shouldn't even exist, as the 2nd Amendment uses clear and uncompromising language which allows no room for regulatory interpretation. Are these weapons "arms"? Would one who sells them be an "arms dealer"? Then the right of the people to keep and bear them shall not be infringed. Period.

Re:Rights? (1)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800704)

Incorrect again. The amendment has never been interpreted by the courts to have these limitations - thus far, limitations have been enforced either through executive mandate or by legislation through the Congress. The limitations on our ability to purchase fully automatic weapons is not based on the Supreme Court's interpretation of the 2nd amendment as it applies to individuals - it's based in a 1968 and a 1986 law that is yet to be challenged at the bench on that level. The only auspices under which those limitations remain constitutional involve the interstate sale of the firearms (the commerce clause). As yet, the court hasn't ruled on privately produced and owned firearms that don't leave the boundaries of a state.

Re:Rights? (2)

nman64 (912054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799268)

It's time for our senators to defend the right to arm bears with modern weapons! Won't anyone think of the cubs?

Re:Rights? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799354)

If that is a fact then the "right to bear arms" doesn't apply to modern weapons either.

Well if the US ever tried to actually summon the militia they have banned some of the most common assault rifles soldiers would have. Even in small arms fire they'd be seriously outgunned by a modern infantry. But then I don't think anyone seriously considers using them as a military unit anymore.

Re:Rights? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800218)

If that is a fact then the "right to bear arms" doesn't apply to modern weapons either.

It doesn't. It never did.

Until the 1980s, nobody seriously believed that a "right to bear arms" meant that anybody should be able to get strapped.

Re:Rights? (1)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800710)

Again, completely incorrect, and incongruous with well-known historical perspectives from both sides of the Revolution[. Read some history before you bother posting again.

Re:Rights? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#37801742)

Again, completely incorrect, and incongruous with well-known historical perspectives from both sides of the Revolution[. Read some history before you bother posting again.

While I tend to agree with your sentiment, proof by assertion is bullshit -- especially when you do it twice.
Without useful citations your posts are just noise.

Re:Rights? (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800734)

"but time and time again the courts are ruling that the fourth amendment doesn't protect people who use modern technology" Can you provide some examples of this. Remember the law enforcement agencies can and do commit actions that infringe on the rights defined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights but it is the Judicial Branch that enforces these rights. Evidence is ruled inadmissible in a lot of court cases. One of the main reasons the government created Guantanamo was because the evidence they had would not be admissible in the US court system. That fact does not mean the person is innocent it just means the evidentiary procedures are not clearly defined for non-US citizens and actions committed outside of the US. Do the rights in the US system apply to the entire world? Can certain offences fall under the the Geneva Conventions? And if the Geneva Conventions are invoked there are specific rules that can be harsh. Any combatant not wearing or displaying any ensignia to identify them as combatants can be summarily executed. That rule alone could apply to all of the non-state combatants captured on any battlefield. It seems to me that at a minimum the US probably should adhere to the legal requirements where the crime was committed but in countries like Afghanistan there are no formal rights for their citizens. The US system is far from perfect but it does provide an adversarial relationship between those who charge people of crimes and those who determine if the charges violated the defendants rights.

Stingrays? (1)

ttong (2459466) | more than 2 years ago | (#37798896)

That's just not the Stingray [youtube.com] that I used to know :(

Re:Stingrays? (1)

suspiciously_calm (2490714) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799234)

Nor the Stingray [ea.com] that I am used to.

Bipartisan? (3, Interesting)

mmcuh (1088773) | more than 2 years ago | (#37798906)

Does "bipartisan support" mean that it has the support of both the major parties, or simply that it has the support of a couple of guys in each but will get voted down by a majority in both?

Re:Bipartisan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37798964)

The latter (although I'm guessing your question was rhetorical, due to obviousness).

Re:Bipartisan? (0)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37798972)

It seems to mean "something that even fanboi nutjobs can agree is a good idea".

Re:Bipartisan? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799030)

Does "bipartisan support" mean that it has the support of both the major parties, or simply that it has the support of a couple of guys in each but will get voted down by a majority in both?

Usually, when used by a politician, it means it is supported by that politician and at least one politician that caucuses with the other major party in one of the houses of Congress.

Re:Bipartisan? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799216)

Does "bipartisan support" mean that it has the support of both the major parties, or simply that it has the support of a couple of guys in each but will get voted down by a majority in both?

Usually, when used by a politician, it means it is supported by that politician and at least one politician that caucuses with the other major party in one of the houses of Congress.

...and there's either little or no attached cost to approval. That's the reality of things today.

Jason Chaffetz (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37798922)

Jason is not a D-UT he is a R-UT. Please fix the post and do a little fact checking next time...

Re:Jason Chaffetz (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799242)

Jason is not a D-UT he is a R-UT. Please fix the post and do a little fact checking next time...

...at least last time he reported in. Could be an I-UT before you know it.

Re:Jason Chaffetz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37799592)

He's also not a Senator but a Representative.

Re:Jason Chaffetz (1)

bs0d3 (2439278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800440)

whoops...

Jason Chaffetz is a Republican (1)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37798958)

Since at least 1990. Summary is incorrect.

Chaffetz is a Republican, not a Democrat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37798962)

NT

Re:Chaffetz is a Republican, not a Democrat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37799162)

Does that mean "Not Trustworthy" as in NTFS?

To bad they restict it to Geolocation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37798976)

They should have just named this bill "The Privacy and Surveillance Act". What about license plate readers and street cameras and other types of big brother surveillance?

Re:To bad they restict it to Geolocation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37799266)

They should have just named this bill "The Privacy and Surveillance Act". What about license plate readers and street cameras and other types of big brother surveillance?

These don't involve the police installing a device in your property, which is something that should require a warrant. You don't have an expectation of privacy on public roads, so they're free to track you that way, without a warrant.

If it passes it *might* stop *legalized* abuse. (0)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37798978)

Legal and actual practice are two different worlds however. In short only rich people have privacy. The harsh reality in technology and privacy is that it's extremely difficult for anyone to actually prove anything and enforce one's rights. The law may say this and that is not legal, but the tools just make it easy to implement and impossible to trace. True privacy, not just on paper, is more and more becoming, in practice, a luxury few have money to buy and pay for. It takes a few lawyers and techs. Expensive ones. It's not only the police and FBI that have an interest in finding out who, where, and what happens in everyone's lives, mostly it's the marketing and sales for every single company everywhere. And you can bet they have the money and resources to find out whatever they need to about you - legal or not - all in an anonymized, "non personally identifiable" way.

Jason Chaffetz is a republican (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37798990)

Nothing else to say.

Great - Step 1 Complete (1)

kenrblan (1388237) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799018)

It's great that the bill was introduced to Congress. Now let's see it pass. I have my doubts of that happening between the "Law and Order" and "Stop the Terrorists at All Costs to Liberty" types of congressmen that seem to control Congress.

Snowball (1)

vaene (1981644) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799120)

The face of Napoleon keeps changing, but the Seven Commandments, in the form of the Patriot Act, stay pretty much the same. One problem the current Napoleon is going to have is he is too effective at killing off his Snowballs. The trick is to keep them alive, at least in the populaces minds, so that there is always justification for disregarding the Fourth Amendment. I wish Ron Wyden luck in his fight, especially against Section 201 and 225 of Title II of the "Patriot Act", the low bar of pretty much doing what you want without warrant in the name of Terrorism, as set out by Section 201, is rendered almost completely moot by Section 225 where the FBI is immune from FISA oversight anyway.

expires with modern technology (1)

Snotman (767894) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799142)

Was this in the constitution? That is insane. Why not say the amendment expires depending on what side of the bed the supreme justice wakes up on. What a load of crap? Is there a website that tracks horrible decisions and the people involved? Where is shame in our society? This is embarrassing.

Not entirely unreasonable (2)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799352)

Firstly, the 4th amendment protects against "unreasonable" search and seizure without a warrant. "Reasonable" is open to interpretation.

The thinking goes like this... it's not illegal for somebody like a meter maid to walk up to your car, mark the tire, and walk away. This is one way a meter maid can "track" your car. They, via the chalk mark, must "modify" your tire to do so.

The police can currently track suspects on public roads without a warrant through the expensive, dangerous, and error-prone method of tailing a vehicle. A GPS tracker stuck to the wheelwell produces identical information at far less expense and risk. As long as the whereabouts of the vehicle are not tracked on private property, it produced the exact same data following the car would. Again, neither method requires a warrant. They have "modified" your vehicle no more than our prototypical meter maid.

The job of the courts is to draw the line to decide between the state's interest in the efficient operation of law enforcement and the citizen's interest in having his property untouched by the state. (Your location on public roads is already public data not subject to protection of any kind... it's the collecting of that data that's the sticking point; can they touch your property without a warrant to do so?)

Re:Not entirely unreasonable (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800374)

The job of the courts is to draw the line to decide between the state's interest in the efficient operation of law enforcement and the citizen's interest in having his property untouched by the state.

Nope. The job of the courts is to read the Constitution, look in the list of enumerated powers, and see if surveilling the citizenry is in the list.

If the answer is yes, the court is then supposed to read the bill of rights and see if warrantless surveillance is expressly forbidden.

Allowing unauthorized/forbidden activity because it makes the government's job easier is precisely what they are *not* supposed to do.

Re:Not entirely unreasonable (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800458)

Firstly, the 4th amendment protects against "unreasonable" search and seizure without a warrant. "Reasonable" is open to interpretation.

"Reasonable" is very much open to interpretation, so it's a good thing that thinking something is "reasonable" isn't sufficient justification by itself. The only sensible way to interpret that clause is to recognize first and foremost that a warrant is the sole mechanism by which searches and seizures can be authorized. If you think a particular search or seizure is "reasonable", you establish that legally by getting a warrant. Declaring an entire class of searches or seizures "reasonable" is no different from issuing an extremely broad warrantâ"but that is prohibited by the second half of the amendment: "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."

The thinking goes like this... it's not illegal for somebody like a meter maid to walk up to your car, mark the tire, and walk away. This is one way a meter maid can "track" your car. They, via the chalk mark, must "modify" your tire to do so.

As you say, they've modified your tire by doing that—your property. No one but the owner has the right to authorize modification of their property. it's no different, qualitatively, than if they'd come up to your car and spray-painted a big X on it to mark it, or gouged the paint. In any event, attaching a GPS tracker is much more invasive than your example of a mere chalk-mark. At least the chalk-mark is in plain sight, and won't be mistaken for a bomb.

A Clear Violation of the 4th Amendment? (2)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799190)

"These are clear violations of the fourth amendment..."

If that were true, I don't think that "time and again" the courts would be ruling otherwise, and "legal clarity" would not be required. It's an unsettled area of law.

Contrary to popular Slashdot belief, complete and utter legal ignoramuses do not end up as high-level judges. Certainly some of them may produce rulings with which there is legitimate grounds for appeal (and rulings with which a majority of Slashdot posters disagree), but that does not make those decisions blatantly unjustified from the start.

Personally, I think it's borderline, and I don't know enough 4th-amdendment jurisprudence to make a definitive call.

Re:A Clear Violation of the 4th Amendment? (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799404)

"complete and utter legal ignoramuses do not end up as high-level judges"

That's debatable, but it's obvious that authoritarian asshats have been filling the benches for the last couple decades at least.

Re:A Clear Violation of the 4th Amendment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37799884)

authoritarian asshats

You like your judges non-authoritative and cheerful, huh?

Re:A Clear Violation of the 4th Amendment? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799984)

"These are clear violations of the fourth amendment..."

If that were true, I don't think that "time and again" the courts would be ruling otherwise

You assume the courts are honest and forthright. In reality, they constantly approve blatantly unconstitutional laws.

Contrary to popular Slashdot belief, complete and utter legal ignoramuses do not end up as high-level judges

No, you have to be very smart and well trained in order to contort logic such that it appears to justify this under the Constitution.

It's not a huge stretch (3, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800188)

Firstly, the position of your vehicle on public roads is not now, and never has been, subject to constitutional protections. Those public roads are public property, and any member of the public, or the state itself, can record data about what vehicles are traveling which roads when. (Just like you can collect data on public airspace usage... there are exhaustive databases that have years of flight tracking for every plane in the US that flew under a flight plan.) That data can be bought, sold, transferred, analyzed, reported on, used in lawsuits or criminal cases, etc. with no restrictions of any kind. This part of the law isn't the least bit vague. A little creepy, yes, but not legally questionable. The only legal questions are on the collection methods, not the data itself.

The Constitutional question is: Can officers attach a device to your car without a warrant to make it more efficient to collect data that they could warrantlessly collect in other ways that would be more inefficient, expensive, and dangerous? Where do you balance the interests of the state in the efficient execution of law enforcement operations with the privacy rights of citizens? This is a common constitutional balancing act... an officer can frisk you and your clothing (property) without a warrant during an arrest, but he can't toss your car (another form of property.)

An officer can, under current constitutional law, place a chalk mark on your tire to track how long it has been parked by the roadside. What are the legally significant distinctions between that and a GPS tracker in your tire well? Is that distinction enough to make the device "unreasonable"? There certainly are distinctions between the two, but where is the line of "reasonable" search without a warrant crossed?

We can guess that officers placing such a device with no justification would not past constitutional muster, but is the Reasonable Suspicion standard sufficient? The two standards to choose from would be Reasonable Suspicion (no warrant needed) vs. Probable Cause (intrusive enough to make a warrant necessary.)

This is not contorted logic here... it's a legitimate legal question where different judges have interpreted the relevant precedent differently. And it's not one I know the answer to.

Re:It's not a huge stretch (3, Insightful)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800620)

The Constitutional question is: Can officers attach a device to your car without a warrant to make it more efficient to collect data that they could warrantlessly collect in other ways that would be more inefficient, expensive, and dangerous?

Can they attach such a device to you, or your clothing? Why should your car be any different?

Where do you balance the interests of the state in the efficient execution of law enforcement operations with the privacy rights of citizens? This is a common constitutional balancing act...

What you mean, of course, is that in the interest of "efficient" law enforcement they get as close to the line as they can possibly get, and frequently cross over it only to be forgiven by courts which are ultimately part of the same organization and biased toward their side.

We can guess that officers placing such a device with no justification would not past constitutional muster, but is the Reasonable Suspicion standard sufficient?

There's only one constitutional standard: Probable Cause. "Reasonable" is something you establish by getting a warrant. If you haven't been issued a warrant then you haven't established that the search is reasonable. More to the point, authorization to perform a search or seizure is a warrant, and a declaration that an entire class of searches or seizures is authorized as "reasonable" without reference to specific persons or property and probably cause is strictly in violation of the second half of the 4th Amendment: "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."

Re:It's not a huge stretch (2)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800790)

The Constitutional question is: Can officers attach a device to your car without a warrant to make it more efficient to collect data that they could warrantlessly collect in other ways that would be more inefficient, expensive, and dangerous?

Can they attach such a device to you, or your clothing? Why should your car be any different?

There is a difference between you/your clothing and your car. You car's primary use is to travel upon public roadways. You/your clothing do many other things, mostly in places where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. (I expect that the data from the GPS, once it crossed onto private property, would not be admissible until it again merged onto a public roadway.)

We can guess that officers placing such a device with no justification would not past constitutional muster, but is the Reasonable Suspicion standard sufficient?

There's only one constitutional standard: Probable Cause. "Reasonable" is something you establish by getting a warrant. If you haven't been issued a warrant then you haven't established that the search is reasonable. More to the point, authorization to perform a search or seizure is a warrant, and a declaration that an entire class of searches or seizures is authorized as "reasonable" without reference to specific persons or property and probably cause is strictly in violation of the second half of the 4th Amendment: "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."

You are correct that "Reasonable Suspicion" does not appear in the Constitution. It is a term adopted by the legal system to describe a legal standard; specifically "more than an "inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or 'hunch'"; it must be based on "specific and articulable facts", "taken together with rational inferences from those facts." This is a paraphrase of Terry v. Ohio in the Wikipedia entry on Reasonable Suspicion. Just because a phrase does not appear in the Constitution does not mean it cannot be used to describe constitutional rights.

The complete and total search of anything and everything that crosses the border, without warrant, oath, affirmation, etc. of any kind, was explicitly authorized by the 1st Congress in legislation, and we can assume they knew what the 4th amendment meant, since many of them debated and signed it. So that, right there, is a declaration that an entire class of searches is reasonable without a warrant. Your assertion that only searches with a warrant are reasonable is unsupported by centuries of constitutional jurisprudence.

Re:It's not a huge stretch (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37801614)

There is a difference between you/your clothing and your car.

No such distinction is made in the fourth amendment:

secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects

All of them are secure, equally so. I hold that a person’s car is one of his effects.

Re:It's not a huge stretch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37801356)

The Constitutional question is: Can officers attach a device to your car without a warrant to make it more efficient to collect data that they could warrantlessly collect in other ways that would be more inefficient, expensive, and dangerous?

I think that would depend on the situation, like are the police breaking into a secure area (such as your garage) in order to plant the device. Since the police have time-and-time-again proven that they cannot make these decisions properly, every case should require probable cause and a judge's signature.

Re:A Clear Violation of the 4th Amendment? (3, Insightful)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800404)

Which part of "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." is unclear? Searching your cell phone without a warrant is a blatantly clear violation.

Re:A Clear Violation of the 4th Amendment? (1)

bs0d3 (2439278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800494)

In 1928 the Supreme Court ruled that a warrant was not needed to intercept a landline telephone call, it wasn't until 1968 that ruling was over-turned and private phone calls via landline became protected under the fourth amendment. People who predate the invention of the telephone do in fact sit on the bench.

Re:A Clear Violation of the 4th Amendment? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800828)

Yes. The courts obviously can't be wrong (subject to human error) or corrupt. That's simply impossible.

So instead of using a GPS system... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37799258)

They will just hire a bunch of agents to tail people they want to tail. Costing millions of dollars in vehicles, fuel, payroll and benefits.

Re:So instead of using a GPS system... (3, Insightful)

borcharc (56372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799378)

They will just hire a bunch of agents to tail people they want to tail. Costing millions of dollars in vehicles, fuel, payroll and benefits.

Thats the idea. If they want to do surveillance on you, they actually have to do it. It is not supposed to be easy or cheep for the government to make its case. This makes the government put their attention on the cases that matter.

bill name (1)

bmxeroh (1694004) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799322)

Honestly who thinks of these things? Do congressfolks have an aide or something who's sole job is to come up with titles that also have convenient acronym? or is it a congressional committee?

Whoever it was... (1)

Radical Moderate (563286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799380)

they're pretty good. Great acronym, and the title isn't some convoluted mess concocted to create such an acronym.

Or, you know... (1)

deblau (68023) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799536)

You could read a version of the bill that isn't formatted like it's perl:

Here [loc.gov]

BTW, this looks to have been introduced in the House back on June 14. The corresponding Senate bill (the subject of this story) was introduced on June 15 and has been languishing in the Judiciary Committee since then.

TOS possibly invalidates this? (1)

mayko (1630637) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799546)

"It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person to intercept geolocation information pertaining to another person if such other person has given prior consent to such interception unless such information is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortuous act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any State."

That is listed under exemptions (along with intercepting for foreign intel, emergency, and device theft). Wouldn't the easy way around this be to force us to consent to tracking via the TOS with the cell phone carrier? (If we haven't already done so). Kinda the same way I consent to a preliminary breath test implicitely by having a drivers license, or forfeit my license upon refusal. I feel like this bill, if passed, will just immediately be loop-holed by a "In order to use a cell phone, you agree to be tracked" clause.

Re:TOS possibly invalidates this? (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799716)

At least then they can't stick a magnetic box on your car for no reason and expect you to give it back to them when you find it. But that means the law achieves only half of its stated purpose. I don't think they can resolve the TOS loophole without tackling the broader issue of warrantless police data requests, which include cell phone location. Then there is tracking by the cell phone provider itself, which they will no doubt claim is necessary "for network analysis and reliability improvements" or whatever and fight tooth and nail if anything ever mentions them in legislation.

If you wish to support this POPVOX... (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799626)

senate [popvox.com] house [popvox.com]

Kirk is a disgrace (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37799726)

Nice to see Mark Kirk do something because commit treason and lie about his military record.

Stop Warrantless GPS Tracking (1)

Ms. Alyce (2488826) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799840)

But if they Stop Warrantless GPS Tracking - I think that they'll just use somthing else. http://www.alycesshoppingmall.com/ [alycesshoppingmall.com]

But... But... (2)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#37799926)

TERRORISTS!!!

EVIL Terrorists!!!

Evil Terrorists are going to get your children!!!

Won't SOMEBODY Think Of The Children(tm)?

If they can, then I should be able to too (1)

Glacial Wanderer (962045) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800270)

One way to solve this that seems logical to me is if they can use gps tracking on me without a warrant then I should be able to do the same to them. I'm pretty sure I can't put tracking devices on cop cars so they shouldn't be allowed to do that to my car. The same rule applies to UAVs, alternate imaging techniques, and other new technologies. It is hard to keep laws up to date with the pace of technology so having a guiding principle like allowing law enforcement/government to do no more without a warrant than civilians can seems like a fair solution. I know there needs to be a few exceptions like detaining a person, but those few exceptions won't change with technology.

Wouldn't Obama veto this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800464)

This is a great piece of legislation but if it makes it through Congress, it seems to me like it would have a serious chance of a veto. Obama has a horrid record on civil liberties.

The full text of the bill can be read online... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800822)

... but if it were passed, who can know what other unrelated stuff would get tacked on to it by then?

Oops (1)

SageMusings (463344) | more than 2 years ago | (#37801572)

Sounds like someone forgot to pay a Senator off.

The fate of this bill depends on ... (1)

rollingcalf (605357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37801606)

... the opposite of whether Obama supports it.

If Obama supports something, the Republicans will auto-hate it even if it originated with Republicans.

So if Obama supports this bill, the Republicans will vote against it. If he opposes it, the bill will be on his desk for signing next week.

Small correction and a link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37801674)

It took me quite a while to find it (thanks to our lovely thomas.loc.gov site), but I did finally track down that it was S.1212 and H.R. 2168, both introduced back in June. It was introduced by Wyden and co-sponsored by Kirk in the Senate and introduced by Chaffetz in the House.

You can read all about it here: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.112s1212

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