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No Warrant Needed For GPS Tracking By Police

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the we-don't-need-no-steenking-badges dept.

Privacy 641

museumpeace writes "Ruling that a suspect nabbed using GPS sneaked into his vehicle by police without a warrant, has '... no expectation of privacy in the whereabouts of his vehicle on a public roadway,' a New York judge has seemingly moved the lines in the battle between privacy and police powers. CNET news has this story, which also says 'Not all uses are controversial. Trucking outfits use GPS boxes to keep track of their drivers' locations, and companies sell software to dispatchers that instantly calculates which taxi is closest to a customer.' But I don't buy that. Yesterday in Massachusetts, a snow plow operator, too dumb to know his truck had GPS, exposed himself to a woman at a coffee shop, hopped back in his truck and was apprehended in minutes because the state troopers, knowing only the location of the coffee shop and that it was a snow plow operator, could find his exact whereabouts."

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Fristage Postage HOWTO (0, Troll)

repruhsent (672799) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341202)

How to get a Fristage Postage on Slushgut:
1. Wait for stupid headline about the new slushgut story;
2. Masturbate continually to taco snotting photos;
3. Click READ MORE;
4. Click REPLY;
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6. ???
7. Profit!

Okay, so this changes what again? (5, Interesting)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341207)

Okay, at the risk of pissing off the tin foil hat crowd, I have to ask: what's the problem here?

As much as I'm against the Big Brother state, I gotta say it's a little absurd to expect privacy while you're on the road. I mean, the cops don't need a warrant to tail you. They don't need a warrant to put out an APB for your car. Those things accomplish the same thing as GPS -- either tracking your movements or locating you, and they're all completely legal and, in my opinion, reasonable.

This isn't a case of erosion of privacy. It isn't a freedom being taken away. It's not, in my decidedly non-lawyer opinion, a violation of anybody's Constitutional rights. It's just a new way of doing the same things that have been done for decades.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341252)

Maybe it just MY car and I do whatever I want with it. If I find this kind of device in my car, I immediatly use the following reasoning: it is in my car, I haven't stole it, therefore, it belongs to me!

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (1)

concerning (842916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341256)

Its not like you're in your own house, or even on your own property. GPS signals are, I suppose, public, and so is it any different from the police using your license plate to track you down?

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341259)

I agree - like the judge's ruling, this is something that could have been done with visual monitoring, but was instead made easier with GPS.

This would be similar to allowing someone to conduct a stakeout with the naked eye without permission, but requiring a warrant for the use of binoculars.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341260)

I don't need a warrant to tail anyone either => it's okay for me to fit GPSes to other people's cars?

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (5, Insightful)

holysin (549880) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341261)

After RTFA:

When Robert Moran drove back to his law offices in Rome, N.Y., after a plane trip to Arizona in July 2003, he had no idea that a silent stowaway was aboard his vehicle: a secret GPS bug implanted without a court order by state police.

Ok, this is the problem: they PLANTED a GPS chip in his vehicle.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341376)

They don't put in your car because that DOES require a search warrent or at the very least a court order. the GPS units are placed under the car which doesn't require the entry or modification of the car. They did the same for a child moslester/killer in washington state and the police were able to track the killer to where he had removed the body and reburied it. The police placed the tracker under his truck.

Your car (4, Interesting)

phorm (591458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341458)

What was that, your typical think-of-the-children response?

So what if it's not in the car. It's still being put on my property. Does this mean that the police can attach whatever they want to my vehicle, so long as they don't open the doors, etc?

The point is that the vehicle was tampered with: without a warrant and without notification of the owner.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341423)

May question is why do the police have the right to tamper with someones car? I mean it was the owners property. Does this mean I have the right to put bumper stickers on someones car?

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (0)

DeathFlame (839265) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341432)

This is no different than simply following the person, except that well you don't have to follow the person around constantly.

As another poster put it, there is no expectation of privacy regarding your location as your driving along the road.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341437)

Ok, this is the problem: they PLANTED a GPS chip in his vehicle.

So?

Seriously, please clarify for me how this is a violation of this person's Constitutional rights. I mean, the government put the pavement under his tires, too...

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (2, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341282)

I agree with you in principle. The only difficulty I have with this is the police put a GPS receiver on his car without his knowledge. It is sort of analogous to the police putting a wiretap on your phone line or, say, putting a brick of coke in your trunk without your knowledge, and then arresting you later for it. They are putting a device meant to incriminate you on your personal property without your consent.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (1)

concerning (842916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341331)

True, but couldnt you say that police can examine your fingerprints at a crime scene without your knowledge? It seems to be just another way of apprehending a suspect to me. Sure, if they're using GPS to investigate innocent people, thats wrong, but it sounds from the story like they're just using it on criminals...?

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (2, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341348)

It is sort of analogous to the police putting a wiretap on your phone line or, say, putting a brick of coke in your trunk without your knowledge, and then arresting you later for it.

No, it's completely unlike those.

A wiretap allows police access to a conversation they normally would be unable to hear. When you're driving on the road, everyone can see you anyhow. There's an expectation that a phone conversation in your house will be private, thus the need for a court to order the wiretap. There's no expectation of privacy on the road.

A brick of coke is illegal. If the cops plant it in your car then "find" it, you will go to jail. A police GPS unit, on the other hand, is not. You will not go to jail if the cops plant a GPS unit on your car and then "find" it.

A GPS unit does not incriminate you anymore than, say, the police following you would.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (2, Interesting)

dewke (44893) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341400)

While I agree that not needing a court order is on shaky grounds you're 100% right.

The GPS will not incriminate you. The illegal activities it allows the police to monitor will, and yes it's no different than the cops using a plane or a car to follow you, just a lot cheaper.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (4, Insightful)

realdpk (116490) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341451)

I wonder if someone found the GPS unit, they'd be able to legally sell it on eBay? :)

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341306)

using GPS sneaked into his vehicle by police without a warrant

I'd agree with you if the police hadn't planted the GPS there without the driver's permission. This is like bugging a house more than using something like setting up OnStar. Cops aren't allowed to search your car without permission, why should they be allowed to plant devices on it?

Not a member of the tinfoil hat club, but something about this doesn't quite sound right.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341402)

>Cops aren't allowed to search your car
>without permission, why should they be
>allowed to plant devices on it?

Three key words: Expectation of privacy.

You have that in your home, on your phones and in the trunk of your car. These things all require either a warrant or provable probable cause to invade.

You do not have an expectation of privacy in regards to where you drive on a public road, because everyone can see you.

Follow?

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341310)

they should have to ask SOMEONE else before deciding to randomly follow a person.

they can now arbitrarily decide who to install this on.

they wont necessarily do that, but that is a lot of power and there is no checks on it.

whats the big deal with getting a warrant anyways.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341316)

Tin-foil-hat answer...

For some reason I got a GPS unit planted on my car (because I know big governemnt secrets) and I can't speed anymore because cops will always be around the corner ready to nab me. And my insurance company will eliminate my safe driving discount.

Which is why I wrap my car in gold foil, including windows, because only the finest metals will fully attenuate harmful radio-active waves.

There's also the snowplow guy... (2, Insightful)

johndiii (229824) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341338)

A GPS device is placed on the truck, probably by its legal owner. The operator of the snowplow, probably a public employee, commits a crime while using the vehicle. The police use the GPS locator, with the likely cooperation of the owner of the vehicle, to find out who committed the crime.

Makes sense to me. What does the submitter mean "But I don't buy that"? This is supposed to be controversial?

Wait a minute. This is Slashdot. Information wants to be free. I'm sure that the woman in the coffee shop has a lot more information that she wanted.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341357)

Those things accomplish the same thing as GPS -- either tracking your movements or locating you

Whan an APB locates you, you'll notice it.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (1)

JJahn (657100) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341364)

The problem is that they placed a GPS locator on his car. Sure you can't expect privacy on the road, but you should be able to expect police not to be placing things on your car without a court order. If they were just watching the roads and taking note of where you went, or if they got a court order, this would not be a problem.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (1)

cosinezero (833532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341367)

Go read the bill of rights again. The cops can tail "some car driving down the road". They can't track your (specifically you) movements.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (1)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341396)

So, following this argument the police can paint my car the most hideous shade of pink so that I might be tracked easier?

Not that I disagree with you really, but the argument made is not one I'd really consider valid.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (3, Interesting)

AnotherFreakboy (730662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341397)

There are many examples in which someone might not want others to know where they are, but have to travel through public space to get there.

Consider the example of a CEO of a big company. A lot of people would consider it interesting, to say the least, where they have travelled to and who else has travelled there.

If that doesn't do it for you, perhaps because the law doesn't usually apply to big shot CEOs, or perhaps because big CEOs are too far removed from your sphere of experience, consider homosexuals. It's legal (in many places) to be homosexual, but many people don't approve of it, and so there are social consequences to being publically outed. Although you haven't commited a crime, you might get unwanted police attention if Officer Homophobe knew you had travelled to a gay-bar.

Still not convinced? Consider the (admittedly unlikely) scenario of a massive backlash by vergetarians against the meat-eaters. After a decades long war that divides families, eating meat becomes illegal, but some people still like to do it, they have just been forced underground. Would like it to be known to the vege-cops that you have been to a suspected slaughter-house (slang for restaurant that serves meat of course)?

Hey, it happened with slavery.

It isn't about tracking,... (2, Interesting)

wasted (94866) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341435)

...it's about planting a device on my car for later use against me. If we allow this, could the next device be a concealed tape recorder or other device to monitor my conversations since it is legal to listen to what I say? Since it is as legal to watch a house as it is to track a car, does this mean it is similarly legal to put monitoring devices in the home without my knowledge or permission?

I personally believe that this is a violation of the intent of the fourth amendment. Of course, as I am not a lawyer or a judge, my opinion doesn't really matter.

Re:Okay, so this changes what again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341460)

You forget that the snooping device has some weight, which costs extra gallons/mile to carry around. Is the police mailing you a check to compensate?

tin foil anyone (2, Funny)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341214)

great, now i can take off my tin foil hat because I'm going to have to cover my entire vehicle in tinfoil!!

Re:tin foil anyone (2, Funny)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341242)

Just buy a Yugo. I think those things were made out of tin to begin with. :)

Re:tin foil anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341359)

I thought GPS required a line of sight to some satellites to work.. so couldn't you be able to see the antenae sticking out somewhere, and can't you just make sure you drive through tunnels, underground carparks, under trees, on the lane beneath the other one on the double decker highway etc..

frist pist wang (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341216)

frist pist wang

/. GPS Monitoring (1)

CmdrObvious (680619) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341225)

so when will law enforcement start monitoring IP addresses of slashdot posters?

Re:/. GPS Monitoring (1)

DaHat (247651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341267)

You mean they haven't begun already?

Win a free GPS! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341234)

Search your car to find out if you win.

No more cheating! (1)

Darkn3ss (812009) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341236)

If the police can do this, does this mean that your wife/husband can do this sort of thing and figure out who you've been spending "quality" time with?

Re:No more cheating! (4, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341287)

Newsflash: For the last, oh, six decades, a couple hundred bucks will buy you someone to follow your significant other around and tell you where they've been. They'll even take pictures for you. And they're even licensed by the state.

Quick! We need a YRO post on this invasion!

Re:No more cheating! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341317)

yes you can... and you'll find plenty of private investigators who are willing to do this for you (for a price)

Re:No more cheating! (1)

ctr2sprt (574731) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341355)

Er, probably your wife/husband will be co-owner of the car, and if you own the car, you can do anything to it you want, provided it doesn't make it unsafe for operating. A GPS tracker certainly won't make it any less safe, so...

Remember that the police are subject to more stringent restrictions on what they can do than ordinary citizens in any event. Bounty hunters and PIs can do all sorts of crap cops can't (without a warrant) because they're private citizens.

Re:No more cheating! (1)

MrRuslan (767128) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341403)

Wife's/Girlfreinds don't need it...they have one built in already...Even if u think about something they know somehow.

Can of worms (5, Insightful)

nysus (162232) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341239)

OK, so now what's going to stop police from hiding GPS units on many cars parked on the street in high crime neighborhoods and tracking thousands of potential suspects?

Re:Can of worms (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341354)

The fact that if someone sees them fucking around with their vehicle is likely to get them shot?

I don't know. If it's alright to install GPS tracking devices, what else are they allowed to do? Let the air out of my tires? Poke a hole in my gastank?

Re:Can of worms (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341373)

Well before.. everything, but after the PATRIOT act and this? only the cost of new devices!

Re:Can of worms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341408)

In Canada they do this. It is called the bait car program and the cars are installed with GPS devices as well as engine killing and door locking software. They just wait for them to be stolen, kill the power on the car thief then swing by and pick him up...

Re:Can of worms (1)

dynamo (6127) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341425)

that's a damn good point.

Re:Can of worms (4, Funny)

nuclear305 (674185) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341434)

"OK, so now what's going to stop police from hiding GPS units on many cars parked on the street in high crime neighborhoods and tracking thousands of potential suspects?"

Cost. Technology is expensive. Storing data costs money. Paying staff to process said data is even more expensive. If you're going to start tracking "thousands of potential suspects" in the same neighborhood...GPS is not the way to go, cameras are.

Re:Can of worms (1)

FCAdcock (531678) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341456)

Their bank accounts...

Re:Can of worms (1)

cosinezero (833532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341466)

Well, because then they might have to actually -recover- my stolen lexus.

Damn double standards! (5, Funny)

Wescotte (732385) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341245)

If a man exposes himself to a woman he gets fined/jail time.

If a woman exposes herself to a man she gets whatever she wants!

Re:Damn double standards! (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341322)

Its really to protect the childeren, so think about the childeren! they don't know about nakedness, we have to keep them innocent!

Re:Damn double standards! (1)

Zordas (596510) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341439)

LOL .... That is too true.

Re:Damn double standards! (1)

MrRuslan (767128) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341453)

It depends on the woman togh...If someone like Opra Exposed herself to you, you can so for emotional scars and get whatever you want! so it's not too big of a double standard...

So you can follow that judge by GPS, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341250)

The way the Judge's comments are phrased, he's giving the green light for anyone to sneak a GPS tracker on his vehicle and track him around.

May I suggest a web site with a map and his whereabouts every minute of the day?

bugs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341279)

It is akin to planting a bug in my car. Last I checked you need a warrant to plant a bug.

If you want to track my whereabouts, go right ahead and spend the manpower to have a human being follow me. But don't start putting tracking devices in/on my property(car) without due process.

Re:bugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341475)

Who said "In" your car? the GPS units are placed under the car using via magnets and it takes 3 seconds to place it. The cops or for that fact anyone else doesn't need to enter your vehical to do this.

Would they really need GPS for that? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341280)

"knowing only the location of the coffee shop and that it was a snow plow operator, could find his exact whereabouts."

Of course, all they had to do was follow the plowed streets.

Re:Would they really need GPS for that? (1)

mzwaterski (802371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341350)

LOL...and me without my +1 Funny mod points!

Re:Would they really need GPS for that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341417)

you're an 800000 and you've had mod points?

what is the world comming to.

Why not turn the tables (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341288)

Is it legal, then, for us to mount gps devices on police cruisers to keep track of their location? By their logic, we could do it anyway with coordinated visual tracking.

Re:Why not turn the tables (1)

martinX (672498) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341335)

I was thinking that just the other week. Rather than that, how about putting them on roadside radar vans :-)

That name again (4, Funny)

martinX (672498) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341293)

is Mr Plow.

The right of the people to be secure in their ... (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341294)

From TFA:
When Robert Moran drove back to his law offices in Rome, N.Y., after a plane trip to Arizona in July 2003, he had no idea that a silent stowaway was aboard his vehicle: a secret GPS bug implanted without a court order by state police.

I'd prefer that ANYTHING placed by the police in a private vehicle require a court order...

GPS jammer (4, Interesting)

chaffed (672859) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341299)

Not just for the Tin Foil hat crowd. Those who are criminally inclined may find a GPS Jammer [phrack.org] handy. Though this does violate FCC regulations. But hey when you committing a crime, does breaking one more law matter?

Privacy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341303)

Does a person have a reasonable expectation that their car's location is private? I don't know. I'd certainly want more than a single NY judge's opinion on the subject before saying "no", though.

But what I am reasonably sure of is that a person has the right to expect that their car, their property, has not been tampered with or had anything introduced to it without their permission. Now, this isn't the case with the snowplow driver (as it is not his vehicle), but idea that somebody can just "sneak" an item onto a personal vehicle, any item, bothers me.

Depends upon the circumstance (2, Insightful)

jsupreston (626100) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341304)

If the vehicle is owned by me, I believe they should have to have a warrant to place one on/in my car. However, if the vehicle is leased (think Rent a Car) or owned by my employer, then the owner of the vehicle should make the decision about the GPS. If the GPS is installed by the owner such as Rent a Car, the police should be required to get a court order to get the tracking info. If no GPS is installed, the owner of the vehicle should be served the warrant. I.E.: Warrant is served to Rent a Car if the driver is a suspect. I guess then Rent a Car has the decision of notifying the driver about the GPS.

Re:Depends upon the circumstance (1)

Spellbinder (615834) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341426)

if there is a warrant then i see no need in notifying anyone
as soon as the suspect knows about the gps it is useless

Re:Depends upon the circumstance (1)

CrackerJack9 (819843) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341440)

Exactly, the two points are that the person is notified that there is GPS on/in their vehicle and that it's not really theirs anyway. Truckers don't generally own their trucks, and the company itself is financially responsible for the goods being transported so they have a right to know. If police don't need a warrant to put one secretly on Joe Schmoe's car...well, shame on the 4th amendment for trying to protect citizen's right to privacy. I know that anyone I see driving along the road has the expectation to be able to see me, but that is taken out of context when I am being watched by some guy sitting miles away at a computer console (think video-wire-tap) and knowing where I am. This is screwed up.

and? (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341309)

You're using a company vechile, they can and should keep track of these things. If one went missing and happened to come back into a country full of drugs/child prostitutes/whatever, they are the ones in trouble.

Privacy or not (2, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341312)

Are the police really allowed to fuck with my car without a warrant or my knowledge?

I could care less about the GPS and tracking him. What if in installing their little bugs they nick a brake or fuel line, and someone winds up dead?

Note to cops: If I see anyone fucking around under the hood of my car in the middle of the night, I WILL shoot first, and ask questions later, and I will be completely within my rights to do so.

Re:Privacy or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341342)

And you will be arrested and imprisoned for murder.

Re:Privacy or not (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341401)

For shooting a trespasser? Not in my state, bub.

"Your honor, all I saw was a shadow, and a firearm hanging from it's side. Why would I think it was a cop? He presented no ID or warrant"

There's precedent, btw. Cops have been shot snooping around in people's backyards.

Re:Privacy or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341411)

...If I see anyone fucking around under the hood of my car in the middle of the night, I WILL shoot first...

Note to Squirrels: fuck under his hood during the daytime!

Re:Privacy or not (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341429)

I WILL shoot first, and ask questions later, and I will be completely within my rights to do so.

No. You are within your rights to shoot if you feel you life is in danger, at that moment.

Re:Privacy or not (1)

Shkuey (609361) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341441)

You most certainly do not have the right to shoot anybody who touches the hood of your car.

right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341318)

i remember the good ol' days before GPS when a guy could expose himself to girls in coffee shops and have no fear of being apprehended. it seems the glory days are gone because our privacy rights have been totally overrun! what's next? stopping terrorist acts before they occur?!?!?

"But I don't buy that." (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341321)

But I don't buy that. Yesterday in Massachusetts, a snow plow operator, too dumb to know his truck had GPS, exposed himself to a woman at a coffee shop, hopped back in his truck and was apprehended in minutes because the state troopers, knowing only the location of the coffee shop and that it was a snow plow operator, could find his exact whereabouts."

There's always warnings issued about exposure during the winter months ... nobody ever seems to listen.

I worked in the freight/logistics industry and our drivers of linehaul rigs had GPS and satellite phones. Primary reason was to identify location to anticipate time of arrival, secondary was safety of crews, if the truck were hijacked (a frequent occurance you seldom hear about.)

Careful you don't associate the snowplow driver's arrest with implied conviction. He's likely only been arrested as a suspect.

Two way street here (3, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341323)

While you are out in public it's pretty hard to expect to have privacy, but there should be some limits. It may be legal to take a picture of a celebrity you run into at a bar, but following them home, to work, and everywhere else for weeks on end would get you convicted of stalking in most places. That is essentially what the police did here.

Some kinds of limits need imposed, just as in most places a cop can't follow you 12 miles to see if you break any traffic laws. The question isn't if it's legal to do to some extent, the question is what is the appropriate extent? What are the limits of public surveilance and privacy?

Isn't a Warrant Needed? (4, Interesting)

canfirman (697952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341325)

I thought that a warrant was needed before any sort of surveylance was done. If I RTFA:

When Robert Moran drove back to his law offices in Rome, N.Y., after a plane trip to Arizona in July 2003, he had no idea that a silent stowaway was aboard his vehicle: a secret GPS bug implanted without a court order by state police. (my bold)

...and...

What's raising eyebrows, though, is the increasingly popular law enforcement practice of secretly tagging Americans' vehicles without adhering to the procedural safeguards and judicial oversight that protect the privacy of homes and telephone conversations from police abuses. (my bold)

The last line sums it up - it seems that police more and more are not adhering to the "rules" to prevent abuse, and now this judge has given his consent for the police to break those "rules". I have no problem using GPS as a surveylance technique, as it's like planting a bug or homing device, but as long as the judicial process has been followed. This ruling by the judge starts to erode at the "innocent until proven guilty" theory. It's the abuses under the Patriot Act all over again.

RTFFA (3, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341326)

And I ain't talking about the EFFing quote from the article in which some EFF dude said:
> "We're in a world where more and more of our activities can be viewed in public and...be correlated and linked together."

Well, of course. But if we had 100,000,000 cops on duty, they could follow you and trade notes, and no warrant would be required.

GPS is merely a force multiplier. If the EFF guy has a problem with this, I'd encourage him to Read The Fucking Fourth Amendment, and actually pay attention to what it says about what you can poke at without a warrant:

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.

"Persons." "Houses." "Papers." "Effects." Whereabouts of vehicles, wherein the vehicles are registered to the government, the privilege of driving said vehicles is granted by government, and in a country in which the vehicles are driven on roads built by the government and maintained by the government.

One of these things is not like the other. One of these things does not belong.

Privacy is dead. Get over it. But if you don't like it, don't look to the constitution for a right to it, because it ain't there.

Re:RTFFA (1)

EvilArchitect (515225) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341413)

I thought my car WAS one of my "effects". No, come to think of it, my car is DEFINITELY one of my effects.

Re:RTFFA (3)

abulafia (7826) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341449)

"Persons." "Houses." "Papers." "Effects." Whereabouts of vehicles, wherein the vehicles are registered to the government, the privilege of driving said vehicles is granted by government, and in a country in which the vehicles are driven on roads built by the government and maintained by the government.

A car sounds like an "effect" to me. The government licenses *driving*, not car ownership. I feel that cops messing with my posessions without a court order is improper and illegal.

If you disagree, then you must also be perfectly fine with me tagging your car with a GPS, too, right? Afterall, you have no expectation of privacy on the road, and messing around with your car is OK with you.

Why all the sneaking around? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341332)

I mean, in this particular case, it should have been a no-brainer for a judge to approve a court order. If the goal is to get the bad guys, why not work with the current system instead of giving the bad guys legal loopholes?

Slippery Slope (1)

Clear2Go (683042) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341336)

If you use the argument that well LF can visually tail you, therefore a GPS is o.k. then govt will always get what they want. You just do it slowly. Now that GPS is o.k. then really Onstar keeps records of where you are so since I can tail you with my own GPS I should be able to get those records without a court order etc.etc. Besides as someone else said. Wonder what would happen if I as a citizen purchase a GPS device and put it on my town mayors car and publish where she goes for everyone too see. After all .. they shouldn't have any expectation of privacy should they? /Mike.

On the plus side (1)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341340)

Since turnabout is fair play we can now tag all the police cars and never get speeding fines again.

Fuck a t4co (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341352)

hfappe8. 'At least

I wonder (1)

MrRuslan (767128) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341353)

as technology advances if it would be posible to atach micro gps locaors on people and would the police need warrents for that or if they would legal at all... Scary stuff...

Erm.... (1)

SpeedyGonz (771424) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341362)

Don't you think parent's argument is... well... not helping? I mean, it could help to rally the American Trucker-Flashers Union (ATFU) against the ruling but...

Okay, turn the thing on it's head (1)

CPIMatt (206195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341365)

If there is no expectation of privacy on public highways, suppose I place GPS tracking devices on all marked police cars in my area? I bet the police would have a very LARGE problem with that.

-Matt

But what kind of world would this be.... (1)

Timmy D Programmer (704067) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341370)

If we all couldn't enjoy a self-exposing snow plow operator from time to time?

I think This is GREAT... (1)

Kjuib (584451) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341384)

But they should put them in everycar... not be selective.... then we can get devices to show us where the cop cars are... If they cops know where I am, I should know where the cops are.

Tampering with private property requires a warrant (1)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341387)

"Not all uses are controversial. Trucking outfits..."

Well, duh. A company can do whatever it wants with the vehicles it owns, including putting tracking devices on them.

But this case is about police "bugging" a private vehicle. I think if they want to vandalize private property, they should need to get a warrant first.

What if I spray-paint the side of a police building, so I can track its movement more easily? Is that okay? After all, just like "Law enforcement personnel could have conducted a visual surveillance of the vehicle as it traveled on the public highways," I could have conducted a visual surveillance of the police building without spray-painting it.

FTRA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341392)

First in Slashdot: Ruling that a suspect nabbed using GPS sneaked into his vehicle by police without a warrant, has '... no expectation of privacy in the whereabouts of his vehicle on a public roadway,' a New York judge has seemingly moved the lines in the battle between privacy and police powers.

Then in the article: Police suspected the lawyer of ties to a local Hells Angels Motorcycle Club that was selling methamphetamine, and they feared undercover officers would not be able to infiltrate the notoriously tight-knit group, which has hazing rituals that involve criminal activities.

Only reason I guess CNET's writing is still better than Slashdot's is /.'s bar ever lowers.

Surveillance != invasive tracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11341421)

The judge apparently said that the police could have performed visual surveillance anyway and didn't need a court order. I'm sorry, but there is quite a thick line between watching someone and physically modifying his car. And the argument about the suspect's not having any expectation of privacy is also quite a dangerous precedent to set. Does this mean I can also go and plant tracking devices on people's cars and mini-cameras on the windscreen of armored vehicles? They have as little expectation as privacy as that dude did I guess.

Or is it only reserved for the police when they feel like arbritrarily invading people's privacy spheres - bceause they can make all the arguments they want - but that's what they've done.

He should sue for theft (4, Funny)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341424)

If this device was connected to his car then he would have been using his gasoline to transport it. If this was done without permission, the police have stolen (even if only a miniscule amount of) gasoline from him.

LK

The line of privacy (1)

maestro^ (13683) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341431)

"Law enforcement personnel could have conducted a visual surveillance of the vehicle as it traveled on the public highways" .. but they DIDNT!

The point is not that they surveilled him, but that they physically attatched a device to his vehichle which is where they invaded his privacy.

Strange Double Standard (5, Interesting)

Boricle (652297) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341436)

In the article, there are two situations (there are more, but for now, I'll mention two of them).

1 - Police Don't Need Warrant To Use This
2 - In Colorado, a man was convicted for tracking his (soon to be ex) wife using one of these.

Call me a bit strange, however, if an ordinary person can be charged (and convicted) for doing this, then really doesn't that suggest that there needs to be some form of judical oversight when the police do it?

Boris.

Disclaimer - I'm not even in the US.

More to the point.. (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341446)

This isn't really an issue of where you can go with a reasonable expectation of privacy, its a question of can the police do something to your car without a warrent? And can they 'search' or follow you without telling you? I always thought that if the police wanted to search you, you had a right to know what they were searching for, but if you don't know theres a search then how can you know what its for?

Can I stick a fridge magnet on your car?

Surveillance devices without warrants? (2, Insightful)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341450)

Perhaps, those who feel that this is a fine practice can explain to me, then, why court orders are required for bugs, wiretaps, and the like. Does information you transmit off your property, over the phone lines, have "no reasonable expectation of privacy?" Clearly, the courts have decided differently, and warrants are required for police to covertly plant such technological surveillance devices.

I don't see this as any different. The police could, for example, track your whereabouts with one of these devices even when you are in a private location (for example, an enclosed garage), or when you are out of their jurisdiction. If they have a court order to do this, that is acceptable. If they do not, this would be far too great a power with far too little oversight.

It sounds like, in most of these cases, a court order/warrant could have been obtained by the police. If it becomes permissible for police agencies to place these devices without suspicion or warrant, what is, in theory, to stop them from planting such devices on every vehicle in existence, and randomly monitoring your activities? This is the reason for mandatory oversight by the courts-it is a check and balance on the power of the executive, law-enforcement branch of government. We advocate removing that check at our own peril.

My take (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 9 years ago | (#11341465)

For me, the issues are
  1. where do they 'tag' you and
  2. do they have reasonable suspicion to do so.

If you're out on the road, the officer wants to stop you, and the police 'tag' your car with some kind of tracking device (whether GPS, etc) to track and stop you instead of risking a high speed chase, or pursuing a fleeing suspect, I'm for it.

However, if the police have to come onto private premises in order to tag your car, I say they need a warrant.

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