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Court Rules GPS Tracking Legal For Law Officers

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the so-keep-yer-nose-clean dept.

Privacy 293

Via Engadget (which does a good job of explaining the case), an anonymous reader passed us a link to a GPS Tracking Systems Blog post. The site, which reports regularly on GPS-related news, has word that on-the-sly GPS tracking is legal for officers of the law. A 7th circuit court of appeals ok'd the use of a GPS device in apprehending a criminal. Though the defendant's lawyers argued on fourth amendment grounds, the judge found GPS tracking did not warrant an 'unlawful search and seizure'. The judge did warn against 'wholesale surveillance' of the population, though, so ... that's some comfort.

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It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (5, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897522)

The summary left out the most important tidbit of information in this case: The police did not have a warrant for their actions.

If the police have reasonable cause to suspect that someone is up to no good and they go through due process to get a warrant, I have no problem with them using GPS as a tool in their arsenal of crime-fighting weapons.

However, I have a major issue with the police, with no reason to think I might be doing something wrong and no warrant to back it up, putting a GPS receiver on my car just in case I do do something wrong.

The judge did warn against 'wholesale surveillance' of the population, though.

The judge in this case was a complete and total idiot. He can warn all he wants to, but he just set a legal precedent that says they can if they want to. There is now absolutely nothing stopping the police from GPS-bugging anyone at any time for any reason, or even with a complete lack of a reason. Who here thinks that even though the police can GPS-bug people without a warrant that they simply will choose not to do so because the right thing to do, in the spirit of the Constitution, is to get a warrant first?

Yeah, I don't either. If you give the government that kind of power, it has shown throughout history—including many incidents in recent U.S. history—that it will not only use it, but push it even further.

If I recall correctly, the rationale behind the original decision was that police can follow people the old-fashioned way—a stakeout—without a warrant or probable cause, and that GPS-bugging them is legally no different, because people should have no reasonable expectation of privacy while driving on public roads.

Well, I'm sorry, I vehemently disagree. The resources required to conduct a stakeout demand that the police don't just do it all willy-nilly for no reason, and anyone who expects to be electronically tracked when there is no reason or cause to do so is an idiot. I know it, you know it, the police know it, this judge knows it, but with the swing of a gavel, he just legalized the excruciatingly stupid idea that you don't have any privacy on the roads. Some people think that talking about Big Brother watching us is an exaggeration, but when I read about stuff like this, it's really hard to see much of a difference.

If there's any justice to be had from this, this idiot judge's decision will be overturned at some point.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (5, Insightful)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897598)

There is now absolutely nothing stopping the police from GPS-bugging anyone at any time for any reason, or even with a complete lack of a reason. Who here thinks that even though the police can GPS-bug people without a warrant that they simply will choose not to do so because the right thing to do, in the spirit of the Constitution, is to get a warrant first?

What's worse, would EZ-Pass or On*Star (I have neither system - I'd rather bleed to death at the side of the road after an accident than lose my privacy 100% of the time) data obtained without a warrant now be admissible in court? I suspect that the cops might not even have to leave the comfort of their offices to attach the GPS bug if they play the game right.

-b.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (4, Informative)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897796)

What's even worse than that, is that a lot of cars come with a black box or other GPS device. If you already have OnStar or other GPS systems installed, then it's pretty clear that you can be tracked. However, many cars are coming with pre-installed GPS tracking in the form of theft protection. I can't find a good link at the moment, but I remember seeing a video (for some reason I think it was on a Penn and Teller: Bullshit! episode) where a guy with a laptop tracked an employee's car as he went to do some errands. I can see how you would want to track your car if it gets stolen, but that really isn't what we are talking about here. The problem is that you can be tracked without your knowledge or consent if your car has such a black box. I'm not sure how that should play out in the legal world if tracking is done without a warrant, and this case didn't seem to take that into consideration.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (1)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898298)

Right. The last car I bought had one of those gizmos pre-installed. They wanted to charge me a few hundred bucks for it. I told them I didn't want it, so they had to go out to the car and physically remove it. It was hidden under the car somewhere; I just saw it in the guy's hand. They said it would aid in the recovery if the vehicle were stolen. The crazy thing is, it has On*Star. It was a redundant device, though hidden.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17898570)

My girlfriend has a GPS on her car without knowing. Ok, I'm the one who put the GPS on her car. Oh, and she doesn't know that she's my girlfriend.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (4, Funny)

Namlak (850746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897830)

What's worse, would EZ-Pass or On*Star (I have neither system - I'd rather bleed to death at the side of the road after an accident than lose my privacy 100% of the time)

Apparently, you are not aware that On*Star can give restaurant recommendations in times of dire emergency or you'd have never made your comment.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (4, Funny)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897884)

Apparently, you are not aware that On*Star can give restaurant recommendations in times of dire emergency or you'd have never made your comment.

Has such a case occurred? (Restaurant recommendation instead of calling an ambulance.) Anyway, I suppose it all makes sense. You're bleeding to death. Therefore you have anemia. Nothing a good, bloody steak can't fix.

-b.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (3, Funny)

monopole (44023) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898188)

Got a cell phone? Most have GPS incorporated due to the E911 requirements. De facto broad surveillance of the population. But they're all terrorists anyway.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (2, Insightful)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898230)

Got a cell phone? Most have GPS incorporated due to the E911 requirements.

It's not permanently attached to my car or to me. It can be (and often is) left at home or switched off - I suppose if I were really paranoid I'd remove the battery. OnStar is non easily removable (though it has been done). EZ-Pass stores location data by design - I doubt that cell companies store GPS locations of everyone's phone over time in detail since there'd be simply too much data to store.

-b.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898614)

I'm not really worried about it, etc., but it is only 'simply too much data to store' until it isn't. That is, how long until technology can easily keep up with the data? A year or two?

The big cell companies have something like 60 million subscribers; to track everybody once a minute, that's something like 4 billion records an hour. So yeah, it's a lot of data, but figure what, 16 bytes for a record, so 64 gigabytes an hour and 11 terabytes a week. So yeah, I don't think that it is something that they would do casually at the moment, but they could very easily be tracking millions of people several times an hour, and given a few years for that 11 terabytes to become more manageable, and well, there ya go.

(I wasn't careful with the math, so someone jump in if it looks wrong)

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (3, Insightful)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898302)

> Most have GPS incorporated

Yeah. We tried to warn cell phone users about that. Most of them couldn't see past the "Ooh! Aah! New nifty social status gadget!" mentality.

> they're all terrorists anyway

Every single cell phone call relayed through a satellite counts as an international transmission and is eligible for government surveillance.

Even if you manage to post to Slashdot through only American servers the moment someone in Canada reads your post it becomes an international transmission and is eligible for government surveillance.

Forget the media dog'n'pony show complete with rank'n'file excuses and canned questions. Fact: The US Federal Government is out of control. Fact: They can justify anything they want at any time. Fact: If you notice it you will either be sent on a 5150 as "paranoid", shipped off to Gitmo, or you will meet a brick wall of denial.

Fact: The only economically viable solution is complete and utter dismantling of the Federal Government. Failure to do so will inevitably result in pi55ing off someone who _is_ crazy enough to start a real war or execute a series, not just one, but a whole string of 9/11 style strategic attacks.

It's only a matter of time.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (5, Insightful)

CrashPoint (564165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898542)

Fact: The US Federal Government is out of control. Fact: They can justify anything they want at any time. Fact: If you notice it you will either be sent on a 5150 as "paranoid", shipped off to Gitmo, or you will meet a brick wall of denial.

Fact: The only economically viable solution is complete and utter dismantling of the Federal Government. Failure to do so will inevitably result in pi55ing off someone who _is_ crazy enough to start a real war or execute a series, not just one, but a whole string of 9/11 style strategic attacks.

Opinions: 2
Unsupported Assertions: 3
Facts: 0

Knock it off with the "Fact:" crap. You're not helping.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898390)

What's worse, would EZ-Pass or On*Star (I have neither system - I'd rather bleed to death at the side of the road after an accident than lose my privacy 100% of the time) data obtained without a warrant now be admissible in court?
On Star can be used to bug your car 24/7, since it has GPS & a microphone.

I do think the police have to get a warrant for your onstar data, since it's from a private company, unless it's an exigent circumstance.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (2, Interesting)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898434)

I do think the police have to get a warrant for your onstar data, since it's from a private company, unless it's an exigent circumstance.

Can GM/On*Star give up the data voluntarily even if no warrant is shown? What's in the customer contract regarding data protection?

-b.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (1, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897604)

Why the hell would you need a warrant for tracking a criminal with GPS? That's like saying they need a warrant to shoot someone, or they need a warrant to drive down your street. And it's not like they'll plant that stuff in your shoes. This is not a will smith movie. They will probably just put something on the bottom of your car and GPS track you to where you're chop shop is. Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (4, Insightful)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897700)

They will probably just put something on the bottom of your car and GPS track you to where you're chop shop is.

Well, if they have probable cause to believe that crimes are being committed (existence of a chop shop parting out stolen cars), they can tell it to a judge and prosecutor and the judge will no doubt be happy to give a warrant authorizing tracking of the car.

-b.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (2, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897768)

My street is public space and the police or anyone else may drive down it. It in no way compares to tracking a person's movements. As for shooting someone, the police can't do that in general. They *can* do it if there is some form of crisis at hand, but those times make up a small minority of the time a policeman is on-duty. So you're comparing actions allowed during such a time (I have no problem with the cops tossing a tracking device into a vehicle if they're witnessing the crime or pursuing the presumed criminals right after it has happened. It's the idea that they can sneak up to a suspect's vehicle and put a tracker in during calmer times when more opportunity affords itself to get a warrant that bothers people. (That's the key point right there: most of the time, they can request a warrant pretty easily.)

Frankly, I can very much see the police's side of this and there is a very reasonable argument to be made that this isn't *that* much different from tailing a suspect (but there's a key difference in the fact that live-tailing is limited because each tail requires an officer), but the entire idea still leaves me quite nervous. I don't think it's reasonable to dismiss fears so quickly as you appear to do.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (3, Insightful)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898126)

> I can very much see the police's side of this

That is a beautiful statement of the common public misconception (which is often well groomed by government whining).

This isn't about seeing the police side of this. This is about the legitimate derivation of power within a Constitutional Republic. History is filled with dire examples of why it is best for the citizenry to disallow authority for the sake of political or legal ease. At the same time there are no lighthouse examples of why a well controlled government would be a Bad Thing.

^BumP (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898318)

There's two ways to think of things:
Crime Control
Due Process

The quick version is that crime control means giving police wide latitude to do their job. If they 'know' someone is guilty, they shouldn't have to jump through hoops to arrest & jail them. Due process says what it means: all the i's have to be dotted & the t's have to be crossed.

Someone who says"I can very much see the police's side of this" is leaning towards the Crime Control school of thought, which is directly contrary to the system of law setup in These United States.

Re:^BumP (4, Insightful)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898400)

> Crime Control

I always assert that the rest is pre-empted by choice of the definition of the word "crime". We don't have too many criminals. We have too many laws.

If we could refine our system of laws then, in instances such as this story, the appropriate use of power wouldn't be questionable because there'd be no excuse to abuse it in other more borderline situations.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898676)

---This isn't about seeing the police side of this. This is about the legitimate derivation of power within a Constitutional Republic.

Wrong. Firing a device upon a car, when there is no search warrant, and no probable cause is a failure of my rights under the Constitution, as this is an unwarranted search.

---History is filled with dire examples of why it is best for the citizenry to disallow authority for the sake of political or legal ease. At the same time there are no lighthouse examples of why a well controlled government would be a Bad Thing.

Any monarchy, dictatorship, and communism are perfect lighthouse examples why we need a "Well Controlled Government". By control, I mean we, the people should control them, not the other way around.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (1)

Dolohov (114209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898060)

They will probably just put something on the bottom of your car and GPS track you to where you're chop shop is.
... or to your workplace, or to your mistress's apartment, or to your doctor's office, or wherever else, for a potentially limitless amount of time.

That's the problem -- it doesn't differentiate between legal and illegal activity, and it doesn't require the officer to make a judgment call as to whether it's worth his time to continue following you. Nor does it turn off when it's obvious that you're not going to a chop shop. When it becomes trivial to get a multiple-day or even multiple-month map of a person's car's movements (which may leave the tracking officer's jurisdiction, or enter private property where an officer would require a warrant to enter) then it becomes problematic.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (4, Insightful)

JesseL (107722) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898180)

Why the hell would you need a warrant for tracking a criminal with GPS?


You need to back up and reexamine your premise there. In the US nobody is a criminal until they've been convicted by a court. If you think they might be engaging in criminal behavior, what's wrong with having to get a warrant?

This isn't making a mountain out of a molehill, it's squashing the molehill before it becomes a mountain.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (2, Insightful)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897630)

I completely agree with your argument here. What is so damn hard about getting a warrant??

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897752)

You serious? They have to call the DA, who has to call a judge and explain the whole story. That can take a while, and the people you are trying to follow could be long gone. Now if you want to *search* something, you can typically take more time since the item to search is usually not going anywhere.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898300)

If you are in position to place a tracker then you are in position to tail the suspect directly.

There is no need to covertly on the spur of the moment require a tracker when no authority is around to sign off on your 'mission'.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898694)

So? Even when they are allowed to post-date warrants, they don't bother. The problem has never been the item moving around and such. It's that they can't be bothered to do paperwork to protect the rights of the people. They think we are all criminals anyway.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (4, Insightful)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897802)

Well, because if they get a warrant and they're wrong... there is a record of it. Someone can point and say "90% of the people you bug aren't even accused of crimes!" With no warrant, it doesn't come out if they don't want it to.

Obviously I agree that they should be required to get a warrant, so that they can be held accountable for watching people for the hell of it.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (2, Insightful)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898290)

What is so damn hard about getting a warrant??
You usually need some sort of evidence that someone might have done something wrong to get a warrant.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897818)

here is now absolutely nothing stopping the police from GPS-bugging anyone at any time for any reason, or even with a complete lack of a reason.

Except that the GPS tracker devices cost about $500, and probably still have some value on the black market. Let's face it, somebody puts a tracking device on my property without my permission, it is MINE! What are the police going to do, arrest me for "stealing" their surveillance device? I somehow doubt they put a sticker on reading "Property of your local Sheriff's Office. Please return to...".

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (1)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897850)

The summary left out a little tidbit ... whether or not this was an hour surveillance or several days. Police don't need a warrant to follow a car fitting a description of a car involved in a robbery or if they see something illegal, but they do to search it when stopped. Unless they can see a bag of cash sitting in the back seat. The article didn't mention why the police felt it necessary to tag the car in the first place.

Nowhere in the article did it mention if the data from the device was used to help convict. Placing a GPS device on a car so you can't lose sight of it is one thing, later downloading the data and using it to give out traffic tickets or proving the car was somewhere at a specific point it time is another.

I would love to see police officers get some type of 'spiderman tracking device' to tag cars that evade arrest. Follow from a couple of miles back and wait until they stop. Safer for everyone, the police, the public, and the driver.

Tagging cars in a bar and then stopping them at a check point later I would have an issue with.

Let's assume for a moment that this gets overturned. Would you support the development of technology to get 5 minute warrants? Why can't a police officer send an email with relevant information and pictures to a judge who reviews it and issues the warrant electronically??

I'd support it.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (2, Informative)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897994)

However, I have a major issue with the police, with no reason to think I might be doing something wrong and no warrant to back it up, putting a GPS receiver on my car just in case I do do something wrong.

Now you're the one leaving out information. In this case the police did have reasonable suspicion that the person in question was doing something wrong. In fact, the judge feels that the police had probable cause.

That said, I don't see why the police shouldn't have been required to get a warrant first.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (2, Interesting)

Romancer (19668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898334)

Two situations where using gps trackers would be ok.

1. Suspected bad guy with a warrant for tracking, just like the warrant required to tap his phone and get his bank records. Limited battery time and or limited data storage onboard for scope requirement of the warrant. Provision in the warrant for realtime or just storage of location.

2. Vehicle evading police. One tag shot at the car to trace it and all the high speed accidents would be avoided. They can fall back and video tape the suspect while other cars block off the area and fence them in. This would meet the probable cause requirement in an emergency to avoid getting a warrant. Limit the tracer to 24hrs battery life sending the live signal and recording the information.

Everybody has rights in a civil society. the rights of the police to try and get the ones who voilate others rights included. It's the judges responsibility to restrain the eagerness of law inforcement to catch people and ballance that need with the requirement of the people to fear an invasion of privacy when they have done nothing wrong.

And for all you people out there with that "If you have nothing to hide you shouldn't be worried." BS...
Why don't you just give the police the right to take you outside the country and torture you without trial or explination or representation?

Oh yeah, you did.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (1)

Hamoohead (994058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898348)

"If the police have reasonable cause to suspect that someone is up to no good and they go through due process to get a warrant. . ."

My understanding is that we gave up "reasonable cause" not to mention privacy when GWB signed the Patriot Act and drove a nail in the Bill of Rights by suspending habeus corpus. AFAIK, anyone can be pulled over and searched and/or detained indefinately without a warrant. All in the interests of homeland "security". GPS bugging is just more erosion of our rights.

The only good news is that we only have about a year left of Bush's dictatorship. Maybe it's not too late to undo his damage, but I'm not real hopeful.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898444)

> when GWB signed the Patriot Act and drove a nail in the Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights has been dead for nearly 200 years. See here [articlev.com] and here [slashdot.org] for explanations and rationale.

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (1)

SdnSeraphim (679039) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898464)

Just one point, there is case law already (from more than a decade back) that GPS tracking of suspects is equivalent to other standard forms of surveillance currently employed by law enforcement. There is no problem for law enforcement to "tail" a suspect on foot, by car, or by other vehicle. GPS is a natural extension of this. This point has been made in many cases, and I am unaware of any limiting statements made by judges in those case. Tailing of a suspect never needs a warrent.

What is different about GPS vs. a human tracker is that human tracking requires a much greater expenditure of resources. With a GPS-enabled tracker, law enforcement could easily computerize the tracking and integrate a vast amount of tracking data easily with very little resources expended. It is far easier to tell when law enforcement has dramatically increased its personnel, but far harder to track when law enforcement has increased its surveillance. I'm assuming this is what the judge was referring to when he warned about wholesale tracking.

 

Re:It ok'd the WARRANTLESS use of GPS (1)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898600)

" The judge did warn against 'wholesale surveillance' of the population, though.

The judge in this case was a complete and total idiot. He can warn all he wants to, but he just set a legal precedent that says they can if they want to.


I think you are the total idiot. His legal precedent will specifically go against such widespread GPS tracking as that is what he ruled. If any instance of the cops, the feds or anyone performing such is discovered then they will be facing charges themselves, as they will be breaking the law. Whether they still do it or not is be side the point, they will be acting illegally.

Personally I suggest you buy yourself a tin-foil hat as you seem to be that sort of privacy obsessed "they feds are out to get me" loony.

first post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897568)

first post!

Officer Safety (0)

Ximok (650049) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897590)

I actually see this as being a good thing. It allows officers to follow a suspect without putting themselves in danger or alerting the suspect to being followed. Plus, it allows for the historical GPS info to be submitted to court as evidence beyond "Well, yer honor, we follerd him down to the docks... I think that was around 3ish... maybe 4ish... and that's where he's been blah blah blahblah..." It makes for a good witness. More power to it.

Re:Officer Safety (4, Insightful)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897668)

I actually see this as being a good thing. It allows officers to follow a suspect without putting themselves in danger or alerting the suspect to being followed.

That's all good IF they have a warrant to authorize the tracking. The judge's decision essentially opened the door for warrantless surveillance of "suspects" - lack of judicial oversight over police actions isn't a good thing.

-b.

Re:Officer Safety (1)

Ximok (650049) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897888)

But can't an officer follow a suspect without a warrant as it is. The difference in this case is that the officer wouldn't need to be there. (I'm basing this on the assumption that an officer can follow a suspect by traditional methods without a warrant)

All the GPS unit does is report where the vehicle is. Besides, it can be easily circumvented by changing vehicles. Get on a bike, bus, train, boat, or horse.

Re:Officer Safety (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898016)

But can't an officer follow a suspect without a warrant as it is. The difference in this case is that the officer wouldn't need to be there.

The GPS method takes less manpower since movements can be recorded and checked up on periodically and someone doesn't need to be "on the case" to follow the car. Thus it's more likely to be used capriciously since it's inexpensive and easy to use. I'm not opposed to it in cases where someone is fleeing after a felony for example, or had just stolen a car and the cops can't safely give chase but can fire a sticky GPS device from a dart gun. However, any long-term surveillance where there's time to see a judge should require a warrant or the fruits of it should be inadmissible in court.

-b.

Re:Officer Safety (2, Insightful)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898064)

But can't an officer follow a suspect without a warrant as it is.

I seem to remember a rule that no, they can't follow a suspect for an extended period of time without getting a warrant. If I'm mistaken, there certainly should be such a rule. The word "search" means "To make a thorough examination of; look over carefully in order to find something; explore." When the police follow someone around they're searching for evidence of wrongdoing. The only question is whether or not the search is reasonable.

IMO following someone around town, whether by foot, by car, or by tracking device, is not reasonable.

"Tracking" was always allowed ... (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898532)

That's all good IF they have a warrant to authorize the tracking.

"Tracking" was always allowed, if you were walking/driving in public they could always follow you, no warrant was necessary.

Re:Officer Safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17898658)

An officer needs to account for his time. By requiring warrants or an actual officer tailing the suspect, it prevents large-scale monitoring of individuals.

Officers are people too and if use becomes common, you'll find some using these to stalk people or generally harass people. If they took their entire shift to stalk their ex, the department would notice and they'd be stopped immediately. If they required judicial oversight before they could place one, they wouldn't be able to explain why an unauthorized one is out in the field.

I don't find it hard to believe that one person would be corrupt enough to abuse it. I do find it far less likely that the department and judicial system would also be corrupt enough to let it happen if you require oversight. Warrants should be required :-/

Re:Officer Safety (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897706)

I actually see this as being a good thing. It allows officers to follow a suspect without putting themselves in danger or alerting the suspect to being followed.

There are two separate issues here:

  1. Whether the suspect has to be alerted.
  2. Whether there should be a requirement for a search warrant (judicial oversight).
When police obtain a search warrant to bug a phone line they are not required to alert the suspect.

Re:Officer Safety (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898642)

It allows the GPS historical record to be admitted, and yes, that will be more accurate with regards to time and position than average testimony usually is. There's even some parellels with other technologies, for example many jurisdictions require surveilance cameras to have time stamp systems and support testing those for accuracy before their tapes can be submitted as evidence.
      But, it allows certain things, it doesn't require them. If the officers don't use this in a certain case, and an officer gets hurt in persuit, or a civilian does, will that make the injury any less the fault of the suspect, since, by your point, the police could have mitigated it?
      If the police use this method a lot, and don't get any more accurate results than old fasioned surveilance, is there any requirement they disclose they used this method on dozens of other people before they got evidence of a single crime?
      If it turns out GPS surveilance doesn't actually produce better testimony, or more reliable convictions, do the police have to disclose the record to a jury, or can they claim it's infalliable, as they often have with DNA and other 'high tech' evidence?
      You've described a pretty damned sloppy, poorly trained cop rather than the average detective on most forces. If GPS evidence is being interpreted by Warren and Goober, as supervised by Barney, it won't be any better than non-GPS, and if it's being interpreted by somebody well trained and competent, why does the police force not have some people who fit that discription on the front lines? If you really think surveilance is commonly conducted by people who never heard of syncronizing their watches, why aren't you trying to get the guns out of those people's hands? - they sound like a terrible menace! Thanks to you, I'm now not even worried about how they can misuse GPS, when many of them commonly have full auto assault rifles and semi-auto shotguns!

Public Road vs. Privacy of one's home (2, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897696)

It would appear that the police tagged the suspect's car, not the suspect's person. Leaving aside the issue that people equate themselves with their car, tracking a publicly registered vehicle on a public street seems less like a violation of privacy. After all, is it that much different (other than cost to the police) from tailing a person in an unmarked police vehicle? The tin-foil hatted criminal could always borrow a friend's car, walk, or take the bus to escape tagged-vehicle tracking.

Re:Public Road vs. Privacy of one's home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897808)

This is true but to assume such a technicality wont be abused is silly.

In the end, if you can track the car and not the person, without a warrent, why bother getting a warrent untill you're ready to arrest? Just track everyone, all the time! It wont cost anything, and we'll save all sorts of money on police, activly moving around, preventing crime.

Brilliant!

Re:Public Road vs. Privacy of one's home (1)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897918)

It would appear that the police tagged the suspect's car, not the suspect's person. Leaving aside the issue that people equate themselves with their car, tracking a publicly registered vehicle on a public street seems less like a violation of privacy. After all, is it that much different (other than cost to the police) from tailing a person in an unmarked police vehicle?

In my opinion the police should get a warrant before following someone in an unmarked police car also, when the circumstances allow enough time for a warrant to be obtained. Obviously if there's not enough time to get a warrant, that's a different story.

Re:Public Road vs. Privacy of one's home (4, Insightful)

FredMenace (835698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898004)

There are several differences. For one thing, the car is still private property. Do the police have the right to just start messing with and essentially modifying your car without permission (from you or a judge)? I mean, if someone ELSE crawled under your car and attached a GPS to it and started tracking your location, should that be legal? If not, why would we let the police do it without a warrant?

In addition, the tracking does not somehow automatically stop when the car EXITS public streets and enters private property. This is pretty much the equivalent of tagging someone's actual body with a nano-GPS device. Sure, the police could physically walk behind you when you're in public, but should they have the right to know what room you are in inside your house, at all times? And should they be able to know your location 24x7, from the comfort of their office chair, without even needing to convince a judge you're a likely suspect in a crime?

I also do think the fact that this makes it much cheaper and easier to do IS significant. It's kind of like privacy on the Internet: lots of things that have always been "public knowledge" have in actually tended to be fairly private due to obscurity. Now, they can suddenly be instantly accessible to anyone in the world, often showing up unbidden in unrelated searches. Such changes in ease of access do indeed call for changes in laws regarding accessibility and privacy of information.

Re:Public Road vs. Privacy of one's home (1)

slashkitty (21637) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898248)

"After all, is it that much different (other than cost to the police) from tailing a person in an unmarked police vehicle? "

I was about to say the same thing, but you beat me to it.

Re:Public Road vs. Privacy of one's home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17898572)

It would appear the police tagged the citizen's clothing, not the citizen's person. You know, if part of registering a vehicle to be able to use it on the taxpayers' road meant the police could GPS tag your travels (wherever you go and whenever they want), then the law about registering a vehicle to use it on the taxpayers' road would say something about it. There is no law passed by the taxpayers' representatives that says the police can GPS tag a citizen's car just because it is on the public road (and do you really think the GPS is turned off when the car goes on to a private road? really??). Because there is no law passed giving the police this power, the police do not have this power. End. Of. Story.

This judge is an idiot.

Because computers are never wrong (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898594)

The real problem with warrantless tracking is that ist opens up a whole new field of investigation via data mining etc. Getting a good feed of GPS positions, cell phone locations, whatever and it soon becomes a data mining exercise to determine who was where when. Add some bullshit stats ("it's a million to one chance that ...")and suddenly we see people being declared guilty with very little extra evidence.

This sort of conviction has already started with DNA, except now we see things being opened up to include non-physical evidence too.

Thinking about this... (2, Insightful)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897780)

I could see it being useful in the event of expediency, but long-term surveillance (where there's time to see a judge) should require a warrant. Let's say if the cops see a stolen car making its way through heavy traffic and they can't safely chase it - perhaps that could fire some sort of sticky dart at it that contains a radio tracker. Then they just wait until the car stops moving somewhere and retrieve it.

-b.

Re:Thinking about this... (3, Insightful)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897872)

Let's say if the cops see a stolen car making its way through heavy traffic and they can't safely chase it

That makes sense. They're tracking the car.

The police in this case were using the GPS to track the person, through the car. The car itself wasn't at issue. Thats where this all falls apart. If the car was stolen, then they have an argument.

Re:Thinking about this... (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897968)

The police in this case were using the GPS to track the person, through the car.

Well, let's say that there was a car containing someone who'd just robbed a diner and shot five people. I wouldn't be opposed to using a GPS bug to track its occupants if there's no other safe way of doing so. The primary issues are time and expediency - if there's prima facie evidence of a serious crime in progress or being fled from AND there isn't time to contact a judge to seek a warrant, then the surveillance is justified. Otherwise, it isn't. So continuing to track a vehicle for a week by GPS without obtaining a warrant is unacceptable IMHO since there's been ample time to plead before a judge.

-b.

Re:Thinking about this... (1)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898024)

This, also, I agree with. They had plenty of time, and used a loop hole to track him without going to a judge to get a warrent. Shooting 5 people and speeding off in a car warrents persuit by an officer, and if you can get a GPS device on the car thats fine, that makes sense. Sneeking into some guys yard and putting a GPS device on his car to track his movements for several weeks before arresting him without getting a warrent, is a completly diffrent situation.

Re:Thinking about this... (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898078)

Sneeking into some guys yard and putting a GPS device on his car to track his movements for several weeks before arresting him without getting a warrent, is a completly diffrent situation.

Agreed 100% -- they had ample time to see a judge and get a warrant.

-b.

Re:Thinking about this... (1)

Ximok (650049) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897948)

I agree long-term surveillance should always require a warrant. I would think in this case the police would want to get a warrant because it could fall under police harassment otherwise.

And who would want to see a long-term case fall through because the suspect claimed harassment?

In case you haven't noticed: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897794)

The current culture doesn't care about privacy. You are legally within your rights to take measures to ensure your privacy, so rather than complaining: start taking countermeasures. The more garbage information they have on the rest of the lemmings, the more complacent the watchers get. With each new threat, drop the coin necessary to make yourself immune. As the waves crash over your countrymen, you'll keep your head above water because you've addressed the threats as they came rather than letting them build up for that "one day" that you actually find yourself in need of privacy and are suddenly overwhelmed. Equiping yourself with RF jammers for specific frequencies and broadspectrum use, aswell as bug detectors, frequency counters, and transmitters is the only way you can ensure your own privacy. You cannot rely on the government to check itself.

GPS jammer? (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897854)

Anyone got a link to a GPS jammer? that would help the criminals, simply JAM the gps signal for only 20 feet around you and their tracking is rendered 100% useless.

Re:GPS jammer? (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897906)

You don't even need to do that. All you need to do is stop the transmitter from sending out a tracking signal--then it can collect GPS information all it wants, and you don't pooch other drivers' navigation systems.

Re:GPS jammer? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897914)

I don't know anything about a GPS jammer sold specifically for the purpose, but if you use a GPS testing rig, you can send out a signal that will totally swamp the GPS signal, and you can use it to specify any position you want to the GPS. You could actually tell the tracking unit that you were going someplace totally different. Of course, such units are quite expensive, meaning that only very successful criminals will be able to afford them. Thus this technology will be effective only against joe schmoe criminal. But then, that's who they want to track, anyway. They want us all to be criminals so they can go up our asses with flashlights any time they like.

Re:GPS jammer? (1)

chaoticgeek (874438) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898420)

Ok, but how do you stop your GPS jamming device from interfering with my navigation system? I am fine with people having their own systems to jam GPS/RF/Cell phones but as soon as it interferes with my right to have that equipment I have a problem. If you want that it should be small, and should not interfere with any other persons. How can you do that and still jam a cops GPS device?

Re:GPS jammer? (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898030)

Here's one, theWavebubble [ladyada.net] .

Re:GPS jammer? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898492)

http://www.phrack.org/archives/60/p60-0x0d.txt [phrack.org]

Volume 0x0b, Issue 0x3c, Phile #0x0d of 0x10
Low Cost and Portable GPS Jammer

I built one based on this information for an electronics class a while back. It indeed works, as I can cause my Garmin III+ to lose positioning. Range limit is based on antenna used and power output.

If I find the bug, can I keep it? (5, Insightful)

radionerd (916462) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897890)

If the police abandon their equipment by attaching it to my property does it become part of my property? Any good geek would want a nice new GPS reciever with a magnet on it to play with, wouldn't they? I've had run ins with the cops in the past, I inspect my vehicles from time to time. So far I haven't found anything new, but who knows?

Re:If I find the bug, can I keep it? (2)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898132)

Correct me if im wrong, but isn't the hope that you do keep it?

I mean..if you leave it say, on a log, floating down a river, its hard to track you, right?

Re:If I find the bug, can I keep it? (2)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898192)

Correct me if im wrong, but isn't the hope that you do keep it?

It would make for an awfully boring tracking pattern if the bug stays in the suspect's driveway 99% of the time and occasionally goes for a ride in the car to the grocery store or to church on Sunday.

-b.

Re:If I find the bug, can I keep it? (1)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898198)

No, it doesn't, any more than if a policeman abandoned a police car in your driveway. the car doesn't suddenly become yours. You probably have the right to have it towed away, though.

Re:If I find the bug, can I keep it? (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898514)

"Abandon" is a word with both an English-dictionary meaning and a legal-dictionary meaning. Parking a car on someone's driveway is not abandoning it. See Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] for some discussion, but in general you must intend not to have any future ownership of your property in order to abandon it. In neither the car-on-driveway case nor the GPS-bug-on-car case is there an intent to abandon. And, while it would be civil trespass for you to put a magnet on my car with the intent to take it back later, and I could sue you for trespass to my car, it probably isn't so easy to sue the police for trespass for the same behavior.

Re:If I find the bug, can I keep it? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17898700)

If the police abandon their equipment by attaching it to my property does it become part of my property?

More importantly, if an officer shoots you, do you get to keep the bullet?

If they shoot you, and then ask for their ammunition back, that would just be cruel.

Does he own stock? (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897902)

Does the judge, or any members of his family, own stock in the company which produces the shoot-and-tag GPS tracking guns?

Big brother issues are definitely a concern in this case. More and more of the population seems to be willing to allow themselves to be profiled to death, though, so there really aren't any arguments left which would make any sort of difference.

Other than "ulterior motive" and "big brother", there really isn't much else to talk about except the weather.

What about personal GPS Nav system??? (3, Insightful)

tillerman35 (763054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897956)

Let's say I already have a GPS navigation system in my car which records my progress. Does this mean that the police no longer need a warrant to seize the tracking information? Since I supposedly have no right to privacy regarding the path which I took, how can I have any right to privacy for an instrument that records it, regardless of whether the instrument belongs to me, the police, or some third party? Ergo, the police no longer need a warrant to obtain the tracking information from rental car agencies. No slippery slope here, folks. Just a small step down a well-lit path.

Re:What about personal GPS Nav system??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17898582)

Well, if it's your car that has the GPS receiver then you own that information. Search and seizure protections would require the police to get a warrant before seizing that information. I think this would be different from them planting their own device.

Re:What about personal GPS Nav system??? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898704)

Let's say I already have a GPS navigation system in my car which records my progress.


Let's say you live in the state of Oregon, and it is a few years from now, when the general gas tax is replaced by a road usage tax.


You WILL have a GPS system in your car.


Since the road usage tax amount will depend on which roads you use and what time you use them (e.g. I-5 in downtown Portland at noon is 15 cents per mile, at 3AM is 5 cents per mile), your GPS will record everyplace you drive and at what time. This data will be uploaded when you buy gas, and you will be taxed based on that data.


The proponents of this nonsense claim that there will be no possible misuse of this data. In fact, they DENY that there will be any location and time data recorded, but cannot say how the road/time based usage will be calculated without it.


Yes, this is a real idea being really considered in Oregon. I know one of the people who developed the proof-of-concept hardware and even she won't admit that collecting data will be necessary.

So basically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17898082)

the Judge ruled that it is A-OK for anyone in law enforcement to monitor their girlfriend's whereabouts 24/7 to make sure that they are not cheating on them! Way to go, Judge! I'm sure this will keep those bitches in line!

Could we charge the police with a crime? (1)

Xenkar (580240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898140)

No matter how hard they try, such a device will add weight to the car. This in turn lowers your vehicle's miles per gallon rating. Thus they are stealing gas from you, no matter how insignificant the amount is.

If you can't get them for a breach of privacy, get them for theft. I remember hearing about a case where a landlord who put hidden cameras in an apartment. The landlord couldn't be charged with a privacy violation so the police got him for stealing electricity he used to power his recording equipment with.

Re:Could we charge the police with a crime? (1)

CatWrangler (622292) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898728)

That was an episode of "The Practice" actually. I have no idea if it was based in reality, or just a plot line.

List of IP Blocks Used by NSA For Surveillance (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17898206)

The following partial list of IP blocks is routinely used by NSA (supported by private contractors) to gain access to, to monitor, and in some cases, to destroy IT networks. Such activity is related to the US "Terrorist Surveillance Program." Most of the registrants of the blocks listed below are not aware of these activities. Concerned network admins should examine traffic logs closely. A correlation of traffic from several of these IP blocks likely indicates that a network is under surveillance or has had access attempted by the US Government and affiliated entities.

[83.27.0.0 - 83.27.255.255]
[170.86.0.0 - 170.86.255.255]
[62.212.234.128 - 62.212.234.255]
[81.57.102.0 - 81.57.103.255]
[201.5.0.0 - 201.5.255.255]
[213.151.160.0 - 213.151.191.255]
[70.83.15.0 - 70.83.15.255]
[166.128.0.0 - 166.255.255.255]
[60.64.0.0 - 60.159.255.255]
[142.191.0.0 - 142.191.255.255]
[83.65.121.32 - 83.65.121.39]
[12.108.2.0 - 12.108.3.255]
[65.128.0.0 - 65.159.255.255]
[24.158.208.0 - 24.158.223.255]
[86.97.64.0 - 86.97.95.255]
[201.239.128.0--201.239.255.255]
[68.36.0.0 - 68.36.255.255]
[70.44.0.0 - 70.44.255.255]
[64.231.200.0 - 64.231.203.255]
[189.128.0.0--189.255.255.255]
[216.155.192.0 - 216.155.207.255]
[121.6.0.0 - 121.7.255.255]
[71.96.0.0 - 71.127.255.255]
[190.213.196.0--190.213.196.255]
[80.72.230.0 - 80.72.230.255]
[58.29.0.0 - 58.29.255.255]
[121.128.0.0 - 121.191.255.255]
[88.191.3.0 - 88.191.248.255]
[58.72.0.0 - 58.79.255.255]
[70.16.0.0 - 70.23.255.255]
[200.57.192.0--200.57.255.255]
[201.5.0.0--201.5.255.255]
[124.168.0.0 - 124.168.255.255]
[211.200.0.0 - 211.205.255.255]
[78.252.0.0--78.252.255.255]
[59.0.0.0 - 59.31.255.255]
[72.64.0.0 - 72.95.255.255]
[211.200.0.0 - 211.205.255.255]
[145.53.0.0 - 145.53.255.255]
[71.200.0.0 - 71.200.127.255]
[60.206.0.0 - 60.207.255.255]
[194.178.125.48 - 194.178.125.55]
[98.226.0.0--98.226.255.255]
[201.88.0.0--201.88.255.255]
[205.209.128.0 - 205.209.191.255]

[51.0.0.0 - 51.255.255.255]
[70.64.0.0 - 70.79.255.255]
[70.112.0.0 - 70.127.255.255]
[202.84.96.0 - 202.84.127.255]
[70.32.0.0 - 70.32.31.255]
[207.218.192.0 - 207.218.255.255]
[69.31.88.0 - 69.31.89.255]
[198.74.0.0--198.74.255.255]
[221.0.0.0 - 221.3.127.255]
[72.144.0.0 - 72.159.255.255]
[220.96.0.0 - 220.99.255.255]
[82.88.0.0 - 82.91.255.255]
[216.128.73.0 - 216.128.73.255]
216.155.192.0 - 216.155.207.255
86.81.0.0- 86.81.255.255
67.183.0.0 - 67.183.255.255
195.200.203.0 - 195.200.203.255
66.231.176.0 - 66.231.191.255
208.206.232.0 - 208.206.232.127

Re:List of IP Blocks Used by NSA For Surveillance (0, Offtopic)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898240)

Why couldn't you make click-links to the WHOIS db info as well? I'd like to see where most of those line up.

Re:List of IP Blocks Used by NSA For Surveillance (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17898404)

You listed around 1% of all ip addresses. I call troll.

comparison with red-light cameras (2, Interesting)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898268)

Judges have shot down the use of red-light cameras in Minneapolis because of the inability of the cameras to *prove* that it was the owner of the car (who gets the ticket) that drove through the light. This seems to me a very similar situation, with the same problems.

Whoa! Next stop Supreme Court (2, Informative)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898392)

This was not "some judge" who "was an idiot" in some Traffic Court meeting in a double-wide out behind the courthouse of Whoville, TN. This is the Federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. (I mean, this makes it worse!) The only appeal from these guys is the Supreme Court. Further, it is precedent setting and can be used in further cases. The best way to get it to the Supreme Court would be to get another circuit court (like the ninth) to rule the opposite way. That way the Supreme Court would be more compelled to get into it.

Re:Whoa! Next stop Supreme Court (1)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898546)

Here's the link to the actual court finding, not a report of a blog somewhere. There HAVE been other cases and the Supreme Court HAS ruled on similar issues. Interesting reading. You can even get an mp3 of the oral arguments here.

Yet another case that begs the question (2, Insightful)

bhalter80 (916317) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898394)

This is yet another case that begs the question, why does law enforcement feel warrants are such an impediment? Is this an issue of courts not being open 24x7 like drive through chapels in Las Vegas or is it that judges are foolishly trying to connect the dots and not let cops play out hunches? While I agree this one isn't that big of a deal if you get enough not a big deal warrantless things going on it becomes a big deal and suddenly the big deal things aren't such a big deal anymore.

Comfort? (2, Insightful)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898396)

>The judge did warn against 'wholesale surveillance' of the population, though, so ... that's some comfort.

No. It's not!

Note to self... (3, Funny)

chaotixx (563211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898402)

Don't date any daughters of police officers!

Gas pump courtesy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17898456)

In addition to the windshield squeegee, gas stations could offer free and automatic bug detection embedded in the ground. Those who value their privacy would pump gas there "just in case" which would increase patronage. Capitalism has its ways.

without warrant != without motive (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898610)

I don't think using a GPS to track someone is a privacy invasion, as long as it's done in public places. Try this as a mental exercise: substitute GPS with human witness. Is it OK for the police to ask people on the street if they saw which way a suspect went? When you are in a public place, you must accept the fact that your privacy is not guaranteed. You may be watched, be it by someone who just happened to be there or by any sort of mechanical device.


If everybody had a right to privacy everywhere, things like traffic cameras would become illegal. Should nobody be able to check whether it's best to go through First or Second Avenue, because Mr. John Smith is afraid his wife will see his car entering the "adult store" parking lot? And what if her cousin saw you, should she need a warrant to tell your wife? (hey, that wouldn't be a bad idea...)


There is *one* and only one well defined place to draw the line where your privacy becomes more important than my right to watch. The line should be drawn at the borders of your property. The police and everybody else should absolutely need a warrant to look into your home, but once you step into the street my right to see trumps your right to stay unseen.

Re:without warrant != without motive (1)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898726)

I don't think using a GPS to track someone is a privacy invasion, as long as it's done in public places. Try this as a mental exercise: substitute GPS with human witness. Is it OK for the police to ask people on the street if they saw which way a suspect went? When you are in a public place, you must accept the fact that your privacy is not guaranteed. You may be watched, be it by someone who just happened to be there or by any sort of mechanical device.

That appears to be one of the arguments they are using. The example is when the government inserts an under cover agent to monitor gang activity. That is not illegal search and seizure. In this particular case, here's what happened.

Guy gets out of prison, immediately gets back into meth, brags he can brew it in front of the police station without them knowing, gives meth to a couple. Wife calls the cops. Cops find the car and tag it (it's a borrowed car) by sticking a portable device underneath the bumper. Guy drives around, visits a vacant tract of land, possible meth lab spot. Cops receive permission for land owner to search the land, find lots of evidence. While they are there, guy drives up. They arrest him, search the car, find even more evidence. Conviction. Cops argue they didn't search anything, they didn't seize anything, they just followed the guy around. They did it with a GPS instead of gumshoes, but it's the same thing. You don't have to get a warrant to follow a guy around. That's not what the 4th amendment says. Sustained.

I believe I have summarized this accurately. I think this is the basic argument that the government used.

GPS in car (1)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898626)

I'm from Florida.

You are lucky the cops only installed it in your car.
In Florida they bug YOU.

Yes, it's legal, now get back at them (2, Insightful)

winomonkey (983062) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898654)

This is one of the few gray areas of the law where I am actually not sure that law enforcement has done anything wrong. The 'slippery slope' that leads to constant monitoring of all vehicles, their position, etc (including speeding violations, traffic patterns, etc) is definitely something to be worried about ... however, in small scales, I can understand this a bit.

What I do not agree with is the placement of unsolicited materials upon private property by a third party. This sounds to me, on a basic level, like vandalism. Perhaps he can sue, as the police did deface his personal property. Am I allowed to attach papers or spray paint or Mooninites to my neighbor's car? Do we judge vandalism based upon how hard it is to remove the materials from the vandalized object? If so, would it not be vandalism if I simple stuck magnetized sex toys to the hood of my neighbor's car? I mean, just as easy to remove.

On the note about attaching electronic devices (mooninite or otherwise) - we should all be able to 'get back at the man' by suing the government for placing suspicious devices on our property, thereby inspiring terror. What if it was a bomb?! If a bright cartoon character in a public place is a hoax device, I fail to see how a hidden, inconspicuous device mounted to the underside of my car is not of a similar, if not more serious, threat to my well being.

The legal reasoning (2, Informative)

coscarart (522354) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898684)

There are two parts to 4th amendment law applicable here. The first is "search or seizure". The second is the warrant requirement. This case said that planting a gps tracking device on your car is not a "search" and therefore there is a lesser police suspicion required. Because it is not a "search" within the constitutional perspective, a warrant is not required. This is similar to a previous case where a beeper was placed inside a barrel that was used to track drugs. In both cases, as long as it was possible to track the items WITH THE NAKED EYE, it was constitutional to track them with technological methods. The general rule is that if you can do it without technology or technology that is widely available, the police can do it with technology that is NOT widely available. Unfortunately this lowers the cost of police surveillance, which allows more surveillance and some fear the eventual creation of widespread "dragnet" surveillance which the court has warned it would not allow. The supreme court has not ruled on this specific issue, but it will eventually because there is a conflict between the various circuits of the federal system

Warrantless Surveillance? (1)

pmike_bauer (763028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898692)

Police can follow me around or stake out my house without a warrant.
Now, instead of assigning an on-duty officer to tail a suspect 24/7, they are using a GPS device.

How is this sort of warrantless surveillance a 4th Amendment violation? I'm not saying it is not, I just don't see it.

Another cluess judge (2, Informative)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17898714)

From the article: But if police follow a car around, or observe its route by means of cameras mounted on lampposts or of satellite imaging as in Google Earth, there is no search.

Someone watches too much 24.
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