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After US v. Jones, FBI Turns Off 3,000 GPS Tracking Devices

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the never-said-boo-about-the-human-implanted-chips dept.

Government 189

suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from the Wall Street Journal: "The Supreme Court's recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a 'sea change' inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann. Mr. Weissmann, speaking at a University of San Francisco conference called 'Big Brother in the 21st Century' on Friday, said that the court ruling prompted the FBI to turn off about 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use. These devices were often stuck underneath cars to track the movements of the car owners. In U.S. v. Jones, the Supreme Court ruled that using a device to track a car owner without a search warrant violated the law. After the ruling, the FBI had a problem collecting the devices that it had turned off, Mr. Weissmann said. In some cases, he said, the FBI sought court orders to obtain permission to turn the devices on briefly – only in order to locate and retrieve them."

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189 comments

Frist post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39163717)

Lol

3,000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39163731)

Seriously, WTF?

Re:3,000? (2)

Bentov (993323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163747)

I highly doubt is only 3000.

Re:3,000? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39163807)

I don't. They most likely have many more as you can still plant/use them with a warrant. The 3000 were just for ones without warrants.

Re:3,000? (5, Insightful)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165071)

The 3000 were just for ones without warrants.

Hard to tell, the article is light on details. That's one possible interpretation. Here's another: there were actually much more than 3000 warrant-less trackers out there. After they lost the case, the FBI tried to get warrants for all the existing trackers. Most of those requests were granted, like they usually are, and the 3000 are the ones where they were denied.

Re:3,000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39163919)

3000 in a country of over 300 million people is a quite small number...

Re:3,000? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164103)

Yup. One nuclear bomb and one kilo of anthrax spores are also small numbers.

Re:3,000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164447)

The point is it should NEVER happen.

Re:3,000? (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164809)

The point is it should NEVER happen.

Actually the point is it should never happen WITHOUT a warrant.

And clearly they haven't got enough for a warrant. Seeing as how it takes so little to get a warrant that they have no reluctance to ask for one to retrieve 500 worth of property. Apparently a crime on par with petty theft is enough to get you tracked.

Since these were all illegal, why not force them to reveal to the tracked parties their tracking activities and ask for the devices back. They may face legal action, but so what? The supreme court didn't make new law, it just stated what was the law all along. Placing the trackers with out a warrant was always a crime.

Either that or The FBI could seek a warrant for their continued use. Surely after tracking these suspects for how ever many weeks it took for the case to find its way through the courts they must have evidence of something that rises to the level of petty theft.

Instead they get a second byte of the apple, by being allowed to peek in windows and perhaps trespass under the guise of retrieving government property. No bad deed goes unrewarded.

Re:3,000? (4, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164575)

And how many agents do they have? For that matter, do you really think we have THREE THOUSAND terrorists in our country? Or how about this, 3000 THAT WE KNOW ABOUT?

Neither do I. So who the hell are they tracking, and why? That's a lot of law enforcement abuse of powers there, probably 3000 cases of it. Want to guess how many decades that would take to go through court if you tried to prosecute all of them? (Yeah, we have a lot of courts around the country, but those cases would be clustered in just a few.)

3000 is a small percentage of the total populace, it however is not a small quantity of abuses of power.

Re:3,000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164781)

A good number of those were probably cuckold FBI agents investigating the libidos of their ironically career widowed wives. What tangled webs we weave....

Re:3,000? (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164593)

Imagine that the ruling had gone the other way. Those three thousand would have multiplied to 30 thousand, then 300 thousand, then 3 million. That could have been claimed to be good for employment figures. Someone had to produce all the tracking devices, someone has to plant them, and someone has to track them. And, the nation would have been so much safer for the children!!!

Re:3,000? (4, Funny)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164737)

2999, I stuck mine to the bottom of a carnival ride trailer long time back.

Re:3,000? (4, Funny)

hardburlyboogerman (161244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163945)

Wouldn't it be a laugh if they found out that a lot of them had already been removed and stuck to the undercarrage of some random over the road semi?

Re:3,000? (1)

Capt. Skinny (969540) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164137)

Or stick it to the car of the agent who planted it.

Re:3,000? (1)

hardburlyboogerman (161244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164669)

Yea,another good one.LOL!

Re:3,000? (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164111)

Are you surprised that the number is high, or that the number is low?

Personally, what I'd love to know is whether the FBI was being lazy with those 3,000(if we can do it with or without a court order, why go to the judge?) or whether they had 3,000 active bugs for investigations so flimsy that they couldn't find a judge to sign...

The former wouldn't be good, but would be unsurprising and fairly banal. Doing paperwork when you don't have to is a fairly rare psychological disorder, after all. The latter, on the other hand, would be 'uncomfortably retro' behavior on the FBI's part, hearkening back to their historically loose adherence to petty matters of law and due process.

Re:3,000? (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164323)

My guess is the former is the main reason. Why go to the court for something you don't need to go to the court for? Indeed, if you genuinely believed that there was no need to get court approval for something, it'd be positively irresponsible to keep going to court about it- a big waste of expensive court time.

But then, there's no saying how many of the investigations are too flimsy to have stood up in court. That's exactly why we force law enforcement to get warrants for things- to weed out flimsy cases. Without that check in place, god knows how many shoddy cases were nodded through.

Re:3,000? (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164623)

How many of those were on ex-girlfriends vehicles?

How many were stuck on rusty pickups at the local truckstop in the hopes it would magically be a bandito of some kind?
(If you don't do the proper investigation and don't have probable cause, then anything you do is either fishing for clues or making wishes to the magic instant case fairy.)

Re:3,000? (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164929)

It would almost have to be the latter. Otherwise they would just go get the warrants now rather than turn them off. Or at most, they would get a warrant and turn them back on then rather than seeking permission to turn them on just long enough to retrieve them.

There may be plenty of the former as well not counted amongst the 3000.

Re:3,000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164169)

I believe you meant OVER9000!!!

Re:3,000? (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164437)

"The Supreme Court's recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a 'sea change' inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann.

Or, Mr. Weissmann, you and the FBI could have just picked up a copy of the Constitution. Even a cursory reading of the 4th Amendment would have told the FBI that affixing a GPS device to someone's vehicle without even the nicety of having paid a judge a visit was eventually going to get the lot of you in a legal pickle and likely mean the Supreme Court would toss it out.

I recommend the FBI get a copy of the Constitution. It's available at your local library, at many bookstores. Hell, there's got to be a hundred thousand websites out there that have the full text.

Re:3,000? (2)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164625)

I recommend the FBI get a copy of the Constitution. It's available at your local library

Hmm, isn't checking documents out of the library an action that leads to you ending up on a list of some sort? I agree; it's good to encourage our government agents to use library facilities.

Re:3,000? (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164629)

There are even places that promote such things that will send you a copy for free if you are to stupid to google it.

Re:3,000? (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164833)

It may not be so much a question of the FBIs Literacy as the Supreme Courts (mis) interpretation and (skewed) analysis of the Constitution. http://www.gpoaccess.gov/constitution/browse.html [gpoaccess.gov] has recent official propaganda from SCOTUS.

I think a lot of your questions on the subject will get answered there.

Mine now! (4, Funny)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163751)

Maybe the feds should be more careful before giving out their toys!

Re:Mine now! (2)

Apothem (1921856) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163793)

I wish they gave me one, I totally would love to have a brand new GPS tracker to play with,

Re:Mine now! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164391)

Maybe this will help:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_Packet_Reporting_System

Re:Mine now! (1)

Corwyn_123 (828115) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165103)

Use of this also requires an Amateur Radio License from the FCC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_radio [wikipedia.org]

Unfortunately it' a dying hobby, with all the cellphones out there, no one sees the need for radio communications anymore. One thing people have forgotten though, in a disaster situation, cellular communications either get bogged down, where you can't use it effectively, or it's completely out (depending on the disaster).

Radio communications will always be there, and Amateur Radio operators become the first line in communications, since the primary thing they do is communicate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amateur_radio_emergency_communications [wikipedia.org]

But regardless, this all still requires an Amateur Radio license from the FCC, or from whatever appropriate government agency in your particular country of citizenship.

Re:Mine now! (4, Insightful)

Jessified (1150003) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164325)

No kidding. The fact that they are having trouble locating them is troubling...is that to say they don't even know basic information on the suspect, such as his address or common residence? A means of contacting him/her?

I'm also wondering if you could get in trouble for taking the device. If someone intentionally places something in or on your car, to me that is akin to giving it to you. Just like if someone intentionally leaves a box on my doorstep I assume it's for me. Am I supposed to ask the owner of pamphlets permission before throwing them away?

Re:Mine now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164547)

They're having trouble locating some of them, which most likely means they're having trouble with the ones that aren't in the most likely places.

Re:Mine now! (2)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164823)

I'm wondering if they'd try to press charges if I found one of these on my truck and 'repurposed' it.

What do I want it for? Don't ask...

Re:Mine now! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164973)

Caught Spying on Student, FBI Demands GPS Tracker Back
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/10/fbi-tracking-device/all/1
"The answer came when half-a-dozen FBI agents and police officers appeared at Yasir Afifi’s apartment complex in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday demanding he return the device."

Re:Mine now! (3, Interesting)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164683)

Maybe if they put a bounty on them, $50 dollars no questions asked, or $500 if it's still in working condition.

Hmmm, maybe the working condition bounty should be higher, I know a lot of people that would think $450 they don't yet have is a small price for showing scum exactly what they think of them. Remember, not only is this an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, it is also a declaration of war by the instigator (personal war, not literal war), and an insinuation that you are a vile criminal. Let's just say people don't like being insulted like that and without a large cash mollification, your expensive tracking toy will quickly become random junk.

Turn it on again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39163759)

...sought court orders to obtain permission to turn the devices on briefly...

If they are turned off, how do they know where are those devices and how can they turn them on?

Re:Turn it on again? (2)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163871)

They are probably partially turned off, as in not returning location. They can probably still receive a cellular signal.

Re:Turn it on again? (3, Informative)

sudden.zero (981475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163905)

GPS tracking devices are radio controlled. The device still has power when it is "off" only the Global Positioning transmitter is off and it can be turned back on at any point by sending a command to the device. In layman's terms it is kind of like a cellular "phone" which is technically a radio. Even when your ringer is off you can still receive calls you just can't hear them in which case they go to voice mail (by default), or any other number/service you have decided to reprogram the device to send to.

Re:Turn it on again? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164923)

Its probably much simpler than you imagine.
They probably never did turn them off, they simply stopped recording the incoming location data. I seriously doubt they would build in a function to stop tracking in a tracking device.

These things don't have a gps transmitter. All they have is a cellular data radio that transmits long/lat info and an id number.

Re:Turn it on again? (1)

milkmage (795746) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164219)

the same way they turned them off - REMOTE.
you think they sent 3000 guys out to turn them off but forgot to collect them?

Re:Turn it on again? (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164537)

Just because a device is listening for a power off signal when on does not mean its listening for a power on signal when off

Re:Turn it on again? (4, Funny)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164707)

It just struck me. This means they don't know either where the owner of that vehicle works or lives, otherwise they'd have an address to go to for retrieval purposes.

WTH! Were they just sticking them on random cars in a McDonalds or something?

Re:Turn it on again? (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164999)

Why not? They forgot that that they're a law enforcement agency rather than a band of vigilantes.

A much better idea (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39163769)

Tell the FBI to write a nice letter to the owners of the vehicles asking if they would kindly return the black box attached under the right rear fender.

Re:A much better idea (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164105)

Are you suggesting that federal agencies should somehow be required to admit to people that they have been illegally tracked? Such knowledge would only confuse and upset people. Far better to break the law one last time in order to covertly retrieve their hardware.

Why do you hate America?

Re:A much better idea (1)

fred911 (83970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164361)

Absolutly! Additionally, all intelligence or evidence should be considered as fruit of the poison tree, including any information derived from the "poison". Therefore inadmissible in court.
  They should also be liable for civil rights damages.

Re:A much better idea (2)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164709)

Personally, I'm wondering about any convictions made on cases where there were warrantless GPS trackers installed. Wouldn't this give their attorneys grounds for immediate appeal/instant overturning the conviction?

Of course, if these trackers never showed up in the evidence presented, I'd think it'd be awful hard to get the FBI to admit those trackers were in place. Getting the government to admit anything is a stone cold bitch.

Re:A much better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164763)

The judge is busting the FBI for illegal activity. The judge should require that the FBI notify everyone they tracked without a warrant so the class action lawsuit against the FBI can begin. If the FBI and indirectly Congress gets punished for passing and using unconstitutional laws by taking away from their budget then maybe the government would think twice before violating the constitution.

They Have Too Much Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39163773)

Clearly they have too much money if they have the time and manpower to track 3000 people.

Re:They Have Too Much Money (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165001)

Clearly they have too much money if they have the time and manpower to track 3000 people.

The only time and manpower involved was placing it on the car in the first place.

From then its all done by computers.
Most of these cases are probably drug related, and the investigating agent simple wants an alert if the car goes near some other known distribution point or any unusual places. This takes s almost zero manpower, which I suspect is why it was done in the first place

Just an idea... (3, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163815)

What would happen if I happened to find such a device on my car and put a fine metallic mesh grounded to the chassis of the vehicle? They would have a serious problem, I guess...

Re:Just an idea... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164053)

If they are just on a fishing expedition, they'll probably assume that the device has failed/fallen off into a drainage ditch/whatever and call it a day.

If they are actually interested in you, it is quite likely that the same fine upstanding men with guns who installed the device will, shall we say, 'schedule a service call' at whatever place and time seems most likely based on tracking data from before you discovered the device...

If it has come to the point where you have a GPS bug on your car, they've probably already established the trivial details like your name, place of residence, record(if any), etc. They don't know exactly what you do every day, hence the bug; but unless you want to go into hardcore fugitive mode, checking up on the bug will just be a matter of motivation.

Re:Just an idea... (3, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164073)

What would happen if I happened to find such a device on my car and put a fine metallic mesh grounded to the chassis of the vehicle? They would have a serious problem, I guess...

What would happen if you didn't put a mesh around it to more securely affix it to the undercarriage and it came off on the highway, bounced into my windshield and caused a massive crash and multi-vehicle pile up?

You would be ill advised to not secure such loose, or merely magnetically attached devices.

Re:Just an idea... (2)

mpe (36238) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164315)

What would happen if I happened to find such a device on my car and put a fine metallic mesh grounded to the chassis of the vehicle? They would have a serious problem, I guess...

A more obvious response would be to call the police and say that a suspicious device was attached to your car. Maybe even mention the "b" word.

Re:Just an idea... (3, Funny)

Kennon (683628) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164559)

Although true, I don't think calling the FBI "bitches" would be very constructive in this situation.

Re:Just an idea... (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164751)

Yeah, but in some places this will only convince the bombsquad to blow up your car to 'neutralize' the device, and then charge you all attendant costs. Especially in Boston. It's much cheaper to buy a new car, and either send that one to the scrapyard or donate it to charity. Please note, if you really think it's a bomb, donating it to charity is definitely and act of EVIL, and usually illegal as well. :)

So how are they powered? (2)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163827)

My first reaction to this was "Why wouldn't they just let them die off when their batteries run down?" In my experience, no GPS device small enough to be hidden in a car will run more than a few days without recharging the battery; most of them die in a matter of hours.

Then my second thought was "How are those gadgets powered?" Do they have a a humongous battery that will last weeks or months? Do they tap into the car's electrical system and not need a battery? If so, will the owner of the car find that the battery is run down when they don't drive it every day? What would be the legal import of the cops tapping into my car's battery and draining it? And, of course, when I took it into the shop and they found the electrical parasite, it would be removed, so this doesn't seem to be a very smart way to power a secret GPS gadget.

You could use a solar charger, but those are sorta hard to conceal.

Anyone know how these things are powered, and how long they can run without either draining the car's battery or dying because their own battery is dead?

Re:So how are they powered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39163867)

Anyone know how these things are powered, and how long they can run without either draining the car's battery or dying because their own battery is dead?

Yes.

Re:So how are they powered? (4, Informative)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163875)

They are not that small. The battery pack is about a foot long.

http://gizmodo.com/5658661/fbi-gets-caught-tracking-mans-car-wants-its-gps-device-back [gizmodo.com]

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164005)

That article also says:

The former agent, who asked not to be named, said the device was an older model of tracking equipment that had long ago been replaced by devices that don't require batteries. Batteries die and need to be replaced if surveillance is ongoing so newer devices are placed in the engine compartment and hardwired to the car's battery so they don't run out of juice

To be honest, if they were illegally tracking you in the first place I don't think they'd worry about the juice it was sucking from the battery.

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164119)

To be honest, if they were illegally tracking you in the first place I don't think they'd worry about the juice it was sucking from the battery.

They wouldn't care because they are just nice, warmhearted, all-around good guys; but they probably would want to avoid doing things that make you more likely to go poking into your car trying to figure out why you needed to break out the jumper cables... That would raise the odds of you discovering the thing.

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164759)

Does this mean I can call the FBI for a jump when by battery goes dead?

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164251)

In that case, I hope it's got a good voltage regulator and can cope with my 24V supply.

Re:So how are they powered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164457)

I don't know about the ones the FBI uses, but we have them at work for fleet vehicles. They can be set to use 6v, 12v, 24v and 48v systems.

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164491)

The ones we have require an external 24-to-12V regulator.

I suspect that if they hook it up to a vehicle with 24V electrics when they expect it to be 12V (like, oh, certain Landrovers and some of the more "interesting" bodywork conversions) then they may find their GPS doesn't work so well any more.

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164701)

Electronics hooking to a car's electrical systems have to expect a lot higher voltages and a lot of nasty spikes than the nominal battery voltage.
One of them is called load dump. This happens when the battery terminal came loose and the alternator is running.

Note: I worked with vehicle powered electronic and testing.

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164825)

Yup. I remember discovering that the earth cable had come loose in my old Volvo, when lots of very odd stuff was happening. Measuring the bus voltage when the headlights went really bright showed it had gone up to nearly 20V...

Re:So how are they powered? (5, Informative)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163947)

they burn a teeeeny tiny amount of electricity in standby - think like a a wrist watch - it can use a tiny battery for years. They only start burning juice when their accelerometer kicks in when the car moves. It then asks where it is (GPS co-ordinates) phones those in and then every (x) seconds repeats that -
Box to GPS: "Where Am I?"
GPS to Box:(X.Y.)
Box: [send X.Y. to bigbrother@fbi.gov]
In between, it's "on" but only needs to transmit every (x) seconds, and even then, not for very long. Transmitting is the big energy burner. The really good ones can last over a month assuming the car is used about an hour every day. They go back to "sleep" mode after about 5 minutes of motionlessness.
You can buy them yourself. The good one cost about $200 - 300 and you have to pay for access to the data to be sent to you and/or access to the mashup where the data is plotted on Google maps. Don't ask why I know about this stuff...

Re:So how are they powered? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164097)

You can buy them yourself. The good one cost about $200 - 300 and you have to pay for access to the data to be sent to you and/or access to the mashup where the data is plotted on Google maps. Don't ask why I know about this stuff...

Why do you know about this stuff?

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164765)

Lowjack services.

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164983)

You can buy them yourself. The good one cost about $200 - 300 and you have to pay for access to the data to be sent to you and/or access to the mashup where the data is plotted on Google maps. Don't ask why I know about this stuff...

Why do you know about this stuff?

Progressive offers to 'give' you one as well as a 'discount' on your insurance policy if you sign up for that 'service'. It plugs into your black box port. If you drive the legal speed limit, it might help reduce your insurance rates. In my case, it's more likely, 'Sir, you consistently drive at least 27 mph in a 25 zone, 68 in a 65 zone. We're doubling your premiums, and no, we won't pay for the damages done to your truck when that drunk teenaged kid ran that red light and T-boned you'.

I'm thinking the only reason the police don't regularly get warrants for that data is, it's just not cost-effective to do so for a $50 speeding ticket.

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164171)

I have to say that I have my doubts about this description, especially the comparison to the commercially-available versions. The device that was found by one guy under his car...apparently, an earlier model with its own power source...bears no resemblance at all to what you or I could easily acquire without going to a defense contractor-like organization. So it tends to follow that any device that would improve upon that design would only divert further from what could be bought for a few hundred dollars at Amazon. (Hmmm...I wonder...does the FBI have a Prime account?) And I'm absolutely sure that they couldn't just get by on a tiny battery to work for years; the battery pack on the early model was ENORMOUS.

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164535)

I'm in no way associated with this outfit or the brand of unit. So I can't say whether this one is any good. But for what its worth, here it is:

http://www.eyespysupply.com/worldtracker-gprs-extreme-15-second-updates-gps-track15.html [eyespysupply.com]

The rechargeable battery and charge management stuff is trivial to add.

Re:So how are they powered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39163953)

It's not like a regular car GPS, though; there's no screen to power, and it would only need to get a GPS signal every once in a while, then go into standby. I'd be surprised if it couldn't run for months.

Re:So how are they powered? (2)

sudden.zero (981475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163981)

I think that you are thinking too "Mission Impossible" here where the agent rolls under the car at a stop light and puts a magnetized tracker on the underside of the car. These devices are actually hard wired into the vehicles battery system so that they charge when the vehicle is on. The FBI wouldn't waste time tracking someone with a battery powered device that would go dead and then they would have to find them again to plant a new device.

Re:So how are they powered? (2)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164259)

How can they actually fit this without gaining access to the vehicle, or causing the body management ECU to report all kinds of faults because of the additional current drain?

Furthermore, how do they do this without being *seen* doing it? Don't you guys have alarms and CCTV over there?

Re:So how are they powered? (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164473)

How can they actually fit this without gaining access to the vehicle, or causing the body management ECU to report all kinds of faults because of the additional current drain?

Its not difficult to find a running light circuit and clip into that. But sometimes they do clip into the wrong lead and antics ensue. I've heard of one being found where the device was tapped on to the low fuel sensor circuit of a vehicle, resulting in the low fuel warning light coming on whenever the GPS went into charge mode.

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164571)

"Don't you guys have alarms and CCTV over there?"

We have car alarms, but they're mostly used by self-centered pricks who don't notice or care that the alarm is being set off by the wind or passing trucks every 5-50 minutes, so no one else pays attention to them either.

We do have CCTV, but not so much as in Orwell's United Kingdom. There are actually entire city blocks which are not under any kind of surveillance at all!

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164665)

Sounds like the UK, where *entire cities* have no CCTV. The whole "eleventy billion CCTV cameras" was made up by a tabloid journalist, but I can't be bothered recounting the sad tale again. Suffice it to say that the second most violent city in the UK, with a population of about 2.5 million people in the whole conurbation, has about 200 CCTV cameras in total - mostly concentrated in the city centre and around the football grounds. Old Firm games are notorious for violence between rival fans.

Most people who have a passing interest in keeping valuable property safe - particularly if they live somewhere remote - find CCTV a useful tool.

Re:So how are they powered? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164181)

That's the real reason they where ordered to turn them off, they have an internal zero-point-module that could power the whole US for the next 5 Million Years, but the FBI didn't want to reveal how it works.

Re:So how are they powered? (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164783)

Wow, you mean they have flashlight batteries that never go dead?!?! I need like 20 of those things! :)

The Fibby's can find them (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163889)

On Craiglist! Ha!

You may already be a winner! -- a template (2)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163927)

Sir:

Please return the other GPS that is attached in the vicinity of the right wheel well. (You may have to get down on the ground to access it.) This happens to be the property of the Federal Government. We have enclosed a box with an address so that you may drop it off within the next ten days at the nearest mailbox at your convenience. No questions will be asked. Thank you in afvance for your cooperation.

This will prevent us from coming to retrieve the aforementioned property in person. In the middle of the night, no less.

Your friendly neighborhood federal agent

 

Re:You may already be a winner! -- a template (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164419)

Sir,

I am more than happy to comply. I have enclosed the object I located stuck to the bottom of my truck in the vicinity of the right wheel well. Although I am no expert and I don't really know what this GPS object of which you speak looks like, here it is. On my ranch, we have different names for these, depending on whether they are dried or still soft.

A cooperative citizen.

For the full decision from the Supreme Court (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39163943)

https://www.eff.org/sites/default/files/filenode/scotusjones.pdf

Re:For the full decision from the Supreme Court (4, Informative)

magarity (164372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164389)

For all the partisans out there, note this was a unanimous decision.

Re:For the full decision from the Supreme Court (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164583)

partisans

Thank you, Sid Meier. Now whenever I see that word, I hear a specific set of (5 I think?) rifle shots. (Civ3.)

Cell phones obviate car GPS trackers ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39163973)

Why track the car only when you can track the guy who is associated with the car,
and do so whether he is in the car or not ?

A cell phone works just fine for this, and the owner of the phone will even cooperate
with those doing the tracking by keeping the phone charged.

Cell phones are a dream come true for a police state ...

Re:Cell phones obviate car GPS trackers ... (2)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164241)

That you, RMS?

OK. What about cell phones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39164043)

What about tracking a cell phone owner without a search warrant?

Rattling noise (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164055)

Ahh, no wonder the rattling sound from my wheel well suddenly disappeared.

Use professional bounty hunters to find them (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164179)

So the FBI should just post a bounty on the folks with these things. Those bounty hunters seems to be good at finding folks and their stuff.

Maybe the FBI should just call the tailed folks up, and ask them nicely to give the devices back? Although, that didn't work out too well with the CIA Iran drone.

How about a national "Search Your Own Car Day?" You might be surprised what you'd find under the back seat.

There was no ruling on warrant requirement (2)

Artefacto (1207766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164201)

The summary is inaccurate when it says Jones required a warrant. The Court only found that the installation of the GPS device was a search because it involved a trespass. It did not say whether that search was unreasonable or, if it is, whether a search warrant or probable cause were required.

In fact, reading the opinions, it would appear that all the justices (except maybe Sottomayor) would allow GPS devices installed without a warrant for short term tracking.

Of course, the Justice department usually prefers err on the safe side.

Re:There was no ruling on warrant requirement (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39165079)

Of course, the Justice department usually prefers err on the safe side.

Problem is, the Justice Department's definition of 'safe' is different from ours. Their definition is more along the lines of 'cover your ass' than 'don't bug decent law-abiding citizens'.

I was bummed, too... (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164213)

I was running my cell phone off their GPS' battery. /lie

What to do if you find one? (1)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164245)

Sell it on ebay [youtube.com] , of course

New Standard (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164409)

How about this for a new standard:

If an average citizen would be convicted of a crime (trespassing, harrassment, stalking, etc.) for doing it, the police need a warrant if they want to do it. I mean, for fuck's sake, they have special courts made specifically for the purposes of rubber-stamping warrants, now these fucking assholes feel like they should be able to spy on us without even having to go through the trouble of getting the bullshit warrant in the first place? What a Fucking Bunch of Idiots.

Re:New Standard (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164847)

Agreed.

Should I mention the time I ran into an actual FBI agent in a store getting 'print samples' from various laser and dot matrix printers?
He was really upset when I pointed out that they don't have physical type like a typewriter, instead they are all electronic fonts that can be changed on the whim of the user or software.
He got even more upset when I pointed out that all the inks and toners came from a handful of factories, and with refils, it might not even be the same one that was originally used.
He was one very unhappy agent after that.

I recently set a system up (4, Interesting)

QA (146189) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164475)

I recently set up an entire GPS platform for our fleet at work. Security was an issue so I purchased the platform and run it in house on a server I built. Currently have 200 assets, but the platform will handle 5000.

They are probably using a device similar to an Enfora modem. These are cellular only, and fairly basic, although they can be configured to reports certain parameters such as ignition on, motion detection, geofencing, etc.

At the other end of the scale you can have a dual band device like the i50B which is Iridium satellite and cellular. The satellite kicks in depending on threshold setting for cellular signal strength. Of course there are MANY similar devices that run on different satellite networks (Global sat etc).
Reporting can be from every 30 seconds to once per day.

The devices are hard wired and use very little juice. You would never notice them. Both the devices mentioned are slightly larger than a pack of smokes and need power and ground. For the best reception an antenna is required, but that is also very easy to hide. Installation would be less than 30 minutes.
Interestingly, jammers are becoming a real problem. You can purchase them online, they only block the GPS frequency, and plug in to your cigarette lighter. Think Taxi cab drivers and truckers.

Interesting quote from the SCOTUS ruling (1)

roeguard (1113267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164693)

“[O]ur law holds the property of every man so sacred, that no man can set his foot upon his neighbour’s close without his leave; if he does he is a trespasser, though he does no damage at all; if he will tread upon his neighbour’s ground, he must justify it by law.” Entick, supra, at 817.

Calls to mind the myriad stories we see here about some random hacker discovering vulnerabilities, reporting them, and then finding themselves on the wrong side of the law. Even if you do no damage, you're still breaking the law.

Re:Interesting quote from the SCOTUS ruling (3, Interesting)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164997)

Which then in turn raises a serious question - we've seen hackers prosecuted and jailed for their activities, but what kind of punishment can we expect for those responsible for the violation of Jones's Fourth Amendment rights? My money is on "none". The SCOTUS ruling doesn't mean anything at all without some kind of consequences for those responsible, as there's nothing to keep the guilty parties from willfully doing it again. And I'm not talking about some stupid fine or something that means nothing to the individual agents that made the decision to violate his civil rights. I'm talking about jail time for those who placed the devices, and their supervisors who signed off on it.
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