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No Warrant Needed For GPS Tracking By Police 641

Posted by timothy
from the we-don't-need-no-steenking-badges dept.
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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No Warrant Needed For GPS Tracking By Police

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  • by Skyshadow (508) * on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:38PM (#11341207) Homepage
    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.

    • by holysin (549880) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:41PM (#11341261) Homepage
      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.
      • 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?
        • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @06:48PM (#11342179) Homepage
          May question is why do the police have the right to tamper with someones car?
          Let's flip it around a bit ...

          It's certainly legal for an individual to follow a police car around, as long as they don't break any other laws. (Speeding, possibly stalking, though that would require other things as well.)

          But would it be legal for Joe Citizen to put a tracking bug like this on a cop car?

          It could certainly make for an interesting legal situation if a person were to go up to a cop, say `I'm going to put this tracking bug on your car', and then proceed to do so. The cop would probably say `you can't do that', then arrest him when he tries to do so anyways ...

          This ruling really needs to be appealed, and soon.

          • "But would it be legal for Joe Citizen to put a tracking bug like this on a cop car?"

            Logically yes.

            "It could certainly make for an interesting legal situation if a person were to go up to a cop, say `I'm going to put this tracking bug on your car', and then proceed to do so. The cop would probably say `you can't do that', then arrest him when he tries to do so anyways ..."

            The point of the ruling would seem to be that we wouldn't have too. Like putting a flyer on the windsheild of the car, or a tracking
    • 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.
      • 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 expe

      • So, what is the qualitative difference between using a piece of technology (surreptitiously placed location transponder) and a human (plainclothes cop)?

        Both allow the police to track your whereabouts, and both require specificity of target. In fact, just because of the specificity - I would argue a police-placed tracking device would have a stronger case in court, than the police subpoenaing the logs of a snow-plow operator's tracking logs.

        Placing a wiretap requires a court order, because there has

        • The significant difference is the application of this sort of technology allows speculative monitoring of large numbers of people.

          In the case of "a human (plainclothes cop)" a really serious decision needs to be made about whether to devote resources to following someone around. With technologies such as these, many people can be "followed around" without much discretion on the part of the police. This is the monitoring analogue of the copyright problem... that being that real-world limitations were suffic
    • 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 coff
    • 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.
      • you should be able to expect police not to be placing things on your car without a court order.

        As I understand it. parking enforcement cops routinely put chalk marks on tires to gauge whether a vehicle has remained stationary behind the proscribed time limit.

        If this practice has been upheld as being legal without a court order, then it would seem to follow that bugging a car with a GPS device is the same.
        • Ah yes. But the police secretly put the device on the car. What happens when they want to get it back? In the Peterson case, they impounded the vehicle to get it back.

          If they take it off secretly, then how is the driver ever going to know they were once the subject of an investigation? How is it possible to prove that the tag was on the suspect's vehicle at all times? This is why a warrant would be a good idea.

          Using technology to make law enforcement's job easier to observe/record/bug people is count
      • On your car or in your car? For years, the police in some US jurisdictions have been placing little pieces of tape on the tailights of cars parked in nightclub parking lots and then using the presence of said tape (as in the right taillight of that moviong car has a black spot on it) as added reason to suspect one had been drinking (note I said "added reason", not "probable cause")
    • by AnotherFreakboy (730662) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:50PM (#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'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
    • by SydShamino (547793) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @06:09PM (#11341658)
      Posted again, since the question is asked again and again...

      ----- Disclaimer -----
      With a court order to specifically track this guy, I have no problem with them using a GPS transponder attached to his vehicle. This is in reply to parent poster's quote "it's a little absurd to expect privacy while you're on the road." It sounds like the parent poster would be fine if the government put GPS trackers on every car, because they could tail every person with a cop already.
      ----- /Disclaimer -----

      You don't get to be "private" in public, per se, but I do feel it is important that you be able to be "anonymous" in many cases.

      "So, how can you be anonymous when you have a license plate?" you might ask.

      Simple, there are 300 million people in the country and, at any given time, no one -cares- to read your plate and track where you are. If you commit a crime, or if someone with a similar car committed a crime, then sure, a police officer might see your car and check your plates. But, if they don't match, the officer will move on. The event is eventually forgotten and there is no "proof" that the event ever happened.

      Automatic location tracking changes that. 25 years from now, someone can go back to a GPS database and see where you were last night. This where anonymity is lost.

      Let's assume you buy pr0n from a shop. Your license plate is visible to all who care to look, but again, -no one cares-. Now add a GPS tracker, and, at a later date, the names of every person who ever visited the store can be retrieved. There goes your political career.

      Let's assume you go to church. Again, outside of the church itself -no one cares-. But, add a tracker, and the government knows everyone who visted a certain mosque, ever. Or, they know everyone who attended mass last weekend.

      In summary, yes, if there is reason to care, the government can already track you in public. But this takes the efforts of a human, which means it is rare, costly, and, most importantly, not permanent. Eliminate human involvement from the monitoring and it becomes routine, pervasive, and, worst of all, permanent.

      --- Update ---
      Since the last time I posted this in response to the same question, a judge has agreed with me!

      On election day, some people were copying down the license plate numbers of people voting (in Ohio IIRC). A judge ordered them to stop. Although they were driving on public roads to polling places on public property open to the public, a judge recognized that they had the right not be tracked.
  • by AmigaAvenger (210519) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:39PM (#11341214) Journal
    great, now i can take off my tin foil hat because I'm going to have to cover my entire vehicle in tinfoil!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:40PM (#11341234)
    Search your car to find out if you win.
    • If you're going to go looking for it...

      1. There is an antenna placement conflict between GPS being line-of-sight and the covert need for police to keep the unit hidden. It is likely that there is a small, thin antenna that can be run up a seam betweeen body panels, or a thin black tape that can be run along glass next to a rubber window gasket. Point is, these things will be visible.

      2. It has to transmit to the police or it's useless. No way you're going to get a satellite uplink from under a car so it
  • Can of worms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nysus (162232) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:40PM (#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?
    • that's a damn good point.
    • by nuclear305 (674185) * on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:52PM (#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.
    • Their bank accounts...
    • Re:Can of worms (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DustMagnet (453493)
      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?

      There are many good reasons (as others have given), but I'm pretty sure they'd lose lots of GPS units if they started puting them on cars in high crime areas. I'm pretty sure they can be reprogrammed or rewired for profit.

      Which leads me to ask, "If someone hides a GPS on my car and I find it, do I get to keep it?" and "If I take one off

    • Or, GASP!, putting audio bugs in your apartment?
    • These things aren't free, nor would the infrastructure to monitor a lot of them be free either.
      • You can get a local transmitting GPS radio in the $10 range now. In 5 years they should be a buck each. The hardware to recieve and track all those signals will run you in the $10k range. It's not too much for most suburbs, and certainly affordable to any city.
    • Re:Can of worms (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kokoloko (836827)
      The same thing that stops them from placing random people under surveillance. It's a waste of time and effort.
  • by Wescotte (732385) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:40PM (#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!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:42PM (#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.
  • by martinX (672498) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:43PM (#11341293)
    is Mr Plow.
  • GPS jammer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chaffed (672859) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:43PM (#11341299) Homepage
    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?

    • People who would be law abiding citizens in a place with sane laws lose their privacy and get subjected to draconian laws at the whim of a Government that begins to resemble a tyrany a bit more every year with the latest War on Whatever.

      On the other hand, real criminals with malicious intent will simply ignore regulations and find a way around law enforcement.
    • What about the rest of us, though? I don't commit crimes, and I don't want to use a GPS jammer if that'd get me into trouble, but I still don't want the police to be able to track my every movement *without any supervision*.
    • by imnoteddy (568836)
      Not just for the Tin Foil hat crowd. Those who are criminally inclined may find a GPS Jammer handy. Though this does violate FCC regulations. But hey when you committing a crime, does breaking one more law matter?

      If you see a GPS device on your car call the cops and say "Somebody put a bomb on my car!" The reaction should be entertaining.

  • 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 dri
  • 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 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stratjakt (596332)
    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.

    • 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.

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

      Perhaps the US laws are different, but in my country, shooting someone that is not directly threatening your life is illegal.
  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby&comcast,net> on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:45PM (#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?

  • by canfirman (697952) <pdavi25NO@SPAMyahoo.ca> on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:46PM (#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.

    • by Brandybuck (704397) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @07:05PM (#11342401) Homepage Journal
      I thought that a warrant was needed before any sort of surveylance was done.

      Not all all. Surveillance without a warrant is perfectly legal. What is prohibited is an entry or search of private property without a warrant. In this particular case a warrant should have been obtained, but only because the car was private, not because it was under surveillance.
  • RTFFA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:46PM (#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.

    • by abulafia (7826) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:54PM (#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.

    • Re:RTFFA (Score:3, Insightful)

      I am of of the opinion that following a particular person around constantly, whether in their vehicle or on foot, in my mind constitutes an unreasonable search of their person if there is not a court order. I'm sure large bodies of legal precedent will disagree with me, but I wonder if the founding fathers would. I suspect those who had fought so recently to fight for their freedom against an oppressive government would probably view this as a sickening symptom of just such a government.

      Things will have

  • Since turnabout is fair play we can now tag all the police cars and never get speeding fines again.
  • 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...
  • "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 visu
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:52PM (#11341424) Homepage Journal
    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
  • by Boricle (652297) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @05:52PM (#11341436) Homepage
    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.

  • 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?
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • /. eds had to leave off some of my submission, maybe fair use issues or my bad editing, anyway, the boston-dot-com website will charge you to read the full article and I cant find the story anywere else even though it was all over the tv last night. Here is the first paragaff and [thank gawd] no pics:

    The state found another use for the global positioning satellite network now in its second year of tracking state-contracted snowplows. At 3:45 a.m. yesterday, a sanding truck stopped at a doughnut shop in We

  • By the same reasoning, how about someone planting gps devices on police cruisers in a small town, then tracking their location? If it is only the expectation of privacy that should keep cops from doing such things,then that would seem reasonable, since the location of a cop car is also very obvious and visible in public.

    And what if the owner has a scanner that would find there gps tracking devices, can they have them, or will the cops come after them claiming the person stole the device?

    Actually I hav
  • by Ibanez (37490)

    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."

    It sounds like this is being used as an example of an illegitimate use of GPS tracking. Which I fail to see.

    I do disagree with the judges ruling, but I don

  • well, if the police are supposedly just using powers they could have had with an army of watcher patrol cars, thus it's legal; then it would go the other way, wouldn't it?

    I'd take this to mean that private citizens (especially as the source of income and primary stakeholders in the quality of their police force) have the right to secretly put GPS monitoring devices on police cars, and then do as they wish with that information, so long as they don't break any other laws in the process. For example, maybe p
    • Cop Locator WebSite (Score:4, Interesting)

      by YankeeInExile (577704) * on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @06:08PM (#11341647) Homepage Journal

      I was working on a project some years ago tracking the location of public transit vehicles, using a subrate data service called CDPD (Cellular Digital Packetized Data or some such...)

      We squawked to the vendor of the hardware (Trimble Navigation) that the units had absolutely no access control - allowing any user who knew the IP address of the device to connect to it, and change its stream-of-consciousness reporting, or merely poll it for its current location.

      They told us this was not a great concern.

      A little human engineering later, we had the IP block used by one of their largest customers (The California Highway Patrol), and showed up at a meeting, not with a map of our transit system, but a display showing the current position, direction and speed of every CHP patrol car in northern California. They finally decided that maybe access control was a good idea.

      Now that would have been a moneymaking dot-com!

  • If he's driving a snow plow, there's probably snow. If there's snow, it's cold. If it's cold, there's shrinkage.

    Maybe if he was operating at 100%, the woman would've been impressed instead of repulsed.

  • At least Spider-Man won't have anything to worry about.
  • As far as the snow plow operater is concerned, he was in trouble anyways. From the original article [southofboston.com]:

    Contacted Monday about the arrest of the driver, Carney downplayed the role of GPS in identifying the suspect. Carney said he would have cooperated with investigators and provided information leading to the driver.

    I don't see why this would be considered a 'controversal' use of GPS. Someone did something illegal, it made it easier to catch them. Would it have been better if the driver got away with it? (m

  • by contagious_d (807463) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @06:05PM (#11341595) Journal
    Next thing you know, the police will be planting GPS trackers in houses. I had to say it before someone else said it by accident.
  • The police can tamper with my property, track my movements specifically, and keep it secret from me without a warrant?

    This ruling spits in the face of the 4th. Amendment. I don't see how anyone could argue otherwise, and I hope that this ruling is thrown out by a judge in a higher court who actually still cares about civil liberties.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @06:09PM (#11341651)
    Yesterday in Massachusetts, a snow plow operator, too dumb to know his truck had GPS, exposed himself to a woman at a coffee shop

    Last year the state switched from logbooks to these devices. For weeks (and I do mean weeks) snowplow operators bitched about it to any news crew that would point a camera at them. They said most of them had not received training on their use (true), the snow in the air/on the truck, and cab design would often block the signal from reaching the unit and cause it to not record miles that had been plowed (also true.) What nobody was willing to say was that it ALSO recorded every coffee break that truck operator Bob reported previously as "down that country lane over there". Most of the legitimate complaints were addressed with training by the state and redesigned brackets to hold the units to keep them on the dash and in a good position.

    Every snow plow operator in the country was following along and knew all about these devices well before the first flake dropped last year. Hell, MA truck operators threatened to strike. It was a BIG deal.

  • by HEbGb (6544) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @06:16PM (#11341779)
    I suppose this means that it would be OK to put GPS tracking devices on all the policecars in your town. They can't have an expectation of privacy when on a public roadway, right?

    I'm sure the GPS info would be *mighty* valuable to certain criminal elements...
  • by rk (6314) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @06:17PM (#11341787) Journal

    If the cops can put a GPS tracker device on my car without a warrant...

    Then if I find it, I can take it apart and use it in my own projects because that fucker's mine!

  • by spasm (79260) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @09:08PM (#11343891) Homepage
    So does this mean if I attach GPS devices to all the squad cars at my local police station and have a website which shows their location at all times I won't be prosecuted? I mean, surely the police have '... no expectation of privacy in the whereabouts of his vehicle on a public roadway,' either.
  • by Catbeller (118204) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @09:10PM (#11343917) Homepage
    Sometimes, a prison is built slowly.

    If we have no expectation of:

    -privacy in moving about the country
    -privacy in phone calls
    -privacy in email
    -privacy in chat
    -privacy in surfing the Internet(s)
    -privacy of assemblage and conversation in public places
    -the right to speak freely anywhere but in our own homes (provided no one outside minds) because all reasonable places to assemble are private property
    -the right not to be searched without charge or warrant, either at home, school, or work
    -the right not to provide bodily fluids on demand of anyone on pain of loss of employment or education
    -the expectation that we will not be watched and/or recorded at any time if we are not sealed in our homes
    -the right not to be stripped and humiliated at will in order to travel by air
    -the right to buy without surrendering privacy ...

    in what way exactly are we not in a giant open-air prison?

    Are you all feeling safer now?
  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @09:19PM (#11344013) Homepage Journal
    I can't remember a better insane example of how much these words, once a source of pride to the citizens of this country, are mere notions with no basis in reality any more.

    U.S. District Judge David Hurd wrote that "Moran had no expectation of privacy in the whereabouts of his vehicle on a public roadway." Sorry, judge, but yes, he did.

    When I drive somewhere in my car, I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect that I am not being followed and tracked by law enforcement when they have no probable cause to do so.

    Don't you expect that privacy? Think about it: Even though you have committed no crime and the police have no compelling reason to think you have done so, wouldn't it surprise you if you found a map on the wall of the local police station with times and locations of everywhere you've driven for the past few weeks? I sure as hell would surprise me and make me more than a little mad if I found out they've been tracking me!

    With this judge's idiotic decision, he has sanctioned police to be able to legally collect detailed tracking information for any person at any time for any reason--or even no reason at all! Given the state of today's technology, the judge has, through this decision, decided that it would even be legal for police to simply put GPS bugs with serial numbers on EVERYONE'S car so that they could simply trace every single person in anticipation of them possibly commiting a crime!

    Hopefully the people of New York will realize that this is gross infringement on their freedoms and react accordingly.

    In the article, it says of a different case, "In placing the electronic devices on the undercarriage of the Toyota 4Runner, the officers did not pry into a hidden or enclosed area." Excuse me, but the undercarriage of a car is not hidden? Does this mean that every time I get in my car to go somewhere, I should check the undercarriage of my car for bugs? What would the police do if I found one of their bugs, removed it, and smashed it to pieces? Probably arrest me for destruction of public property and obstruction of so-called "justice."

    This is a clear case of judges tossing out the spirit and meaning of the law and simply coming up with wild interpretations suitable to their whims. I expect this kind of thing from lawyers, but from judges, it's simply intolerable, and represents a gross corruption of our legal system away from the people and towards an oppressive government.

    I swear that I will never again pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, nor will I allow my kids to. At one time it was an important symbol of ideals I treasured, but it is painfully obvious that it no longer stands for a republic that believes in freedom and liberty for all. I am ashamed of this kind of behavior. Hopefully someday, things will change and I may believe in it once again.
  • Haven't you heard? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bizitch (546406) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @11:12PM (#11344997) Homepage
    Everyone forfits about half the bill of rights now whenever you get behind the wheel of car.

    The - "its a privilage - not a right" - argument is always trotted out on stories like these.

    Its always interesting to see how government reacts to things they call "privilages" - they immediately curtail rights in a very predictable kneejerk fashion.

    This is why governments suck and (as our founding fathers knew) you need to keep an iron boot of restraint on the neck of government otherwise you end up being abused.
  • by Max Threshold (540114) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @11:27PM (#11345089)
    I'll tell you where I expect privacy, got it?

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. -- Bill Vaughn

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