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Privacy The Courts United States

GPS Tracking Without a Warrant Declared Legal 926

Posted by samzenpus
from the track-away dept.
jnaujok writes "The Ninth Circuit court has declared that attaching a GPS tracker to your car, as it sits in your driveway, or by extension on a public street, and then using it to monitor every one of your movements, is totally legal, and can be performed by the police without needing a warrant. So, if you live in the Western United States, big brother has arrived."
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GPS Tracking Without a Warrant Declared Legal

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  • Re:Why I despair (Score:4, Informative)

    by gad_zuki! (70830) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:03PM (#33373838)

    I think people care, but people are also aware that the only ruling that matters will be SCOTUS. Currently, this is a hot issue in various courts and they all rule differently. SCOTUS will make the call that defines this issue.

  • by scharkalvin (72228) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:04PM (#33373854) Homepage

    http://www.ladyada.net/make/wavebubble/

    Then they won't see ya!

  • by redelm (54142) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:04PM (#33373866) Homepage

    No, they don't! The "police" have no special powers other than exactly what statutes give them under special circumstances (arrest, crime in progress, etc). Since I do not know of any statute granting GPS powers, the only way the police can do this legally is because everyone can.

    This is an important distinction between the American & British (&other systems): In the US, the government derives its' powers by delegation from The People. If The People do not have a power, they cannot delegate it. Under the UK (&other) systems, the Sovereign holds all powers which S/He graciously grants to the people,
    starting with Magna Carta. The Sovereign still holds other power unavailable to individuals.

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:12PM (#33373968)

    More or less yes. You have to have justifiable cause and the details may vary by state but every citizen can make an arrest for a crime or even a planned crime. This is how police officers get their arresting power.

    There was a case a few years ago of an immigrant police officer who was found out not to have valid citizenship and that invalidated all of his arrests. He had been brought in illegally as a child and never became naturalized. The interesting twist is that he had been an MP in the US military for which you do not need to be a citizen to serve.

  • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:12PM (#33373978) Homepage Journal

    You are looking at this wrong, here in the USA the laws do not tell us what we can do, they tell us what we can not do.

    So, if it is not considered a violation of the 5th amendment and there is no law saying "You can not attach GPS devices to police cars" or "You can not monitor police" or any variation there of, then it is legal.

  • Re:Countermeasures (Score:5, Informative)

    by topham (32406) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:13PM (#33373998) Homepage

    The trend is towards cellular phone style devices; GSM or CDMA radios with GPS unit. No keypad or screen required so they can be quite small. Battery life is an issue, however they go to sleep of they aren't moving so they only need to work for the duration of a trip.

  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:14PM (#33374008)
    This has already [google.com] been circumvented.
    So the cops are going after lay citizens and stupid crooks, a fair number of which really do deserve to be caught.
  • Re:Countermeasures (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sprouticus (1503545) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:16PM (#33374050)

    here is a quick reply from google. Im sure the police/fed models cost 10x as much and have less range :)

    http://www.brickhousesecurity.com/gps-car-tracking-vehicle-logging.html [brickhousesecurity.com]

  • by seifried (12921) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:17PM (#33374062) Homepage
    This is why most small GPS and cell phone jammers come with cigarette lighter plugins, so they can live in your car. If you want to take a private trip (and not have access to your own GPS or cell phone of course) you may want to invest in one of these (easier than crawling under your car and inspecting it every time you want to go do something. Or so I read in a magazine. http://www.dealextreme.com/search.dx/search.portable%20jammer [dealextreme.com].
  • by blair1q (305137) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:27PM (#33374212) Journal

    You might want to reread that self-defense clause again.

    You can use deadly force to protect people and property from imminent danger. Someone poking a hand under your bumper is not that.

    And there's generally going to be no way you'll prove self-defense against a cop, since you have to presume a cop is assaulting you legally unless you know specifically otherwise. you might have a chance if he's assaulting you without telling you he's a cop, but that won't work if he's under cover, since "I didn't know he was a cop" is the whole point of that. And killing a cop isn't just murder or manslaughter, it's a cop-killing, and for that you get special treatment.

  • by jackalope (99754) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:37PM (#33374358)

    Somebody left their sarcasm detector at home today.

  • by The Moof (859402) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @05:50PM (#33374582)
    Actually, that's the messed up part. From the judge's ruling:

    The court's ruling, he said, means that people who protect their homes with electric gates, fences and security booths have a large protected zone of privacy around their homes.

    So only if you're rich enough to have that security booth and gated community/property, you have that right to security.

  • by The Moof (859402) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:01PM (#33374732)

    I am a law abiding citizen

    Until they decide you aren't.

  • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:04PM (#33374794)

    It would cost about $300 for the tracker. The receiver would be about $1000. I used to work at a place that tracked animals via GPS / VHF collars for wildlife researchers. There were a few cases where the animal would look, shall we say, rather humanoid, but in all of those cases that was a willing animal.

    Anyway, that $300 would get you a GPS unit with antenna, a processor board with memory, and a VHF transmitter that sends out the location. They'd be able to read that location on the receiver. The battery would be a Lithium cell and would run for up to a year. It would be potted for weather proofing. If they had reusable batteries, then you'd be able to use the units pretty much indefinitely.

    It could also be set up to record your location throughout the day at intervals no finer than 1/second. (Civilian GPS refreshes that fast, and there's no way they could get their hands on milspec.) It could easily save up the data and broadcast it at a set time (like 3am when you're asleep or 4pm when you're at work) and the receiver would get all the locations you've been in the last day. It only takes about 8 bytes to store a GPS location, so an 8Mbit Flash module is enough to store a year's worth of locations. This would all be on a board roughly 1" x 1.5" x 0.5", plus battery and antenna.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:07PM (#33374844)

    Scalia, Thomas and Alito are the ones you want on this kind of a case.

    Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, while they are big, at least in words, on narrowly construing the federal Constitution, are quite apt to find outs for pro-law-enforcement authoritarianism even where the federal government is involved (Scalia perhaps somewhat less so than the others), and all of them are even more likely to read broadly the police powers of the States (or, as they would put it, to read narrowly the federal Constitutional limits on the police powers of the States.)

  • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:10PM (#33374870)

    U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has also ruled that a warrant is required. Reported here on /. [slashdot.org] less than 20 days ago.

    This decision is bound for the SCOTUS because you can not have different laws in one part of the country as compared to another part due to the Equal Protection Clause.

    The Ninth is the most over-ruled circuit in the entire country. Stay tuned.

  • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:12PM (#33374914)

    It's hard to guess that it's sarchasm when there are so many morons out there who actually believe that. Just witness the vast numbers of "take away all my rights, just protect me from the terrorists" right wing idiots out there.

  • by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:20PM (#33375026) Homepage Journal

    Scalia and Thomas voted to uphold sodomy laws. They're quite happy to be authoritarian when they feel like it.

  • jamming = bad (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:48PM (#33375414)

    FYI -

    It is against the law to jam GPS or intentionally radiate without an licensed operator. Ask your local hams....also most GPS trackers operate on the cell bands.

    Do not jam cell bands

    http://www.fcc.gov/eb/FieldNotices/2003/DOC-300634A1.html

    Do not jam GPS

    http://www.fcc.gov/eb/FieldNotices/2003/DOC-298353A1.html

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:14PM (#33375692)

    It could also be set up to record your location throughout the day at intervals no finer than 1/second. (Civilian GPS refreshes that fast, and there's no way they could get their hands on milspec.)

    Bullshit. Cheap GPSes only report at 1 Hz, but there's plenty of OTS bluetooth and/or USB units that report at 5Hz, and some that go to 10Hz; nothing "milspec" about it. The reason your animal trackers (and also car trackers) are 1Hz is because it's cheaper and uses less power, and animals (and cars) don't make geographically significant motions on a subsecond timescale.

    It only takes about 8 bytes to store a GPS location, so an 8Mbit Flash module is enough to store a year's worth of locations.

    Unsurprisingly, you fail at math, too. What's a factor of 250 between bearded friends? [google.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @08:52PM (#33376470)

    Parent is informative? No, parent is misinformative.
    - No GPS can operate in tracking mode 24/7 for a year on a 'lithium' battery unless said battery is gigantic
    - Why would anyone want to know your position every second? And how can 8Mbit store over 35 million 8 byte data points?
    - Why would anyone use 'VHF' when cellular coverage is pretty much everywhere in the US?

    I could go on...bottom line is that a small slap and go device is good for a week or two. If they can hook into vehicle power then it can run forever.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@nOsPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @09:46PM (#33376796) Journal

    I guess cops sneaking around at night and sticking things to your vehicle looks creepy, but they can already get your location history from your cell provider. If I wanted to keep my physical location info private, turning off my cell radio would be a good first step.

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @10:28PM (#33377000) Homepage Journal
    Funnily enough, cops have no actual duty to prevent crime, only to investigate it after the fact. 99 times out of 100, when I see a police car in the area around my neighborhood it's running a speed trap, not patrolling the neighborhood.
  • by sumdumass (711423) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @10:32PM (#33377030) Journal

    Also, the GPS tracker would have to chirp to send out your data. It would probably be of VHF since that's unregulated (148 - 152 MHz is a good one) so all you'd have to do is check for broadcasts of that frequency. GPS refreshes at 1Hz, so that's probably what they would chirp at unless they're using burst downloads.

    FYI, the range on GPS / VHF transmissions in urban environmentsis very short. It gets unreliable after a few hundred meters and it completely thwarted by brick.

    Most GPS trackers I have dealt with use SMS or text message sent to a server by signals over regular cellular carriers. They can be programmed to send every minute or ten minutes of longer.

    http://www.brickhousesecurity.com/gps-car-tracking-vehicle-logging.html [brickhousesecurity.com]

    There are some that send via satellite too. Those are generally reserved for large item tracking (like shipping containers or heavy equipment and can be activated remotely as well as penetrate large walls and buildings. I can't find my reference link to it right now, but the UN has even approved a couple of these for international tracking of UN equipment and shipments.

  • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @11:18PM (#33377286) Homepage Journal

    How far till we are 'chipped' at birth?

    It is somewhat unnerving when evil things mentioned in books and old TV shows become reality.

    Get with the times! First it was pets, then it was humans. For now, it's not mandatory, but rich parents can indeed chip their kids "at birth" (sometime afterwards, but close enough) - or each other, or themselves or whatever. There was a company trying to pass a law making it legal for companies to be able to require their employees to be chipped (RFID supposedly, but nearly as bad).

    Search Google for human GPS chip if you don't believe me.

    Here's a few to get you started:

    (2003) GPS Implant Makes Debut [wnd.com]
    Chip Implants Already Here [greaterthings.com]

    There was an article on /. a while back, and there are links you will find in your Google search to larger publications.

  • by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv.vadivNO@SPAMneverbox.com> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @12:34AM (#33377662) Homepage

    American revolution, was a rebellion against a distant Big Government limiting people's freedom (in particular, freedom to do spend their money as they wish, without being subject to unjust taxation).

    BZZZT, Wrong, thank you for playing, please exit the country in an orderly manner.

    The American revolution was over the English people living in America being denied the civil rights [wikipedia.org] they were granted under various English laws and traditions.

    It wasn't 'No taxation without representation.', it was 'No taxation without representation'.

    I don't know why idiots try to make it about taxes (Oh, right, they're idiots. I mean libertarians.). The damn Declaration of Independence explains why the US revolted. There's a damn list of reasons, right there, literally the third thing in the first official document ever of this country.(1) Getting it wrong should make you automatically discounted from being listened to in a political argument.

    I will, as I am nice, count and summarize the reasons given. Feel free to go read [archives.gov] it.

    Lack of representation, 7
    Lack for following laws, 8
    Refusing to pass needed laws, 2
    Stupid laws, 1
    His military and waging war against us, 8
    Cutting off trade, 1
    Taxes, 1

    Yeah, boy, that war sure was about taxes, wasn't it. There are twice as many complaints not passing laws as there are about taxes. That's right, the Declaration of Independence has as the second and third grievances, 'Hey, we need some sort of functioning system of laws over here, and neither you nor your governors seem to actually want to set them up. You aren't restricting us enough, we're breaking free to restrict ourselves more, because laws are needed things.'!

    Put that in your damn stupid 'taxes are anti-freedom, the war was about taxes' pipe and smoke it. The revolutionary war was not only not about taxes, it wasn't about 'freedom' either. It was about rights.

    The vast majority of the complaints are about a) the king not following the law WRT to representation in parliament of English citizens(8), b) the king not following other laws that apply to English citizens, like trial by jury and whatnot(7), or c) the fact England already appeared to be operating in a state of war towards the American colonies anyway(9).

    Incidentally, as the Wikipedia article hilariously points out, the settlements in the US actually predates the 'Glorious Revolution', which is where it was established once and for all that the English monarchy must defer to parliament and do not have absolute power, so it's possibly that Americans were technically wrong about supposing to have 'the Rights of Englishmen'. The English kings had, by the American revolution, agreed at swordpoint at least twice that they didn't have absolute power, and signed documents to that end, but that happened after the colonies were founded, and no one actually ever stated if the colonies were included or if they got their own parliament or what. But the revolution was indisputably about those rights, regardless if the rights were 'supposed' to exist for 'Englishmen' living in America.

    1) First person to argue that the Declaration isn't part of 'this country' get punched in the head twice, once for missing the point and again for being wrong.

  • by GooberToo (74388) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:28AM (#33380262)

    If this is any example [youtube.com], they are not ignored. Its just more likely you'll be threatened, arrested, and/or have the shit beat out of you for simply asking about a complaint form.

    I forget which video its on but they have a lengthy segment of undercover police simply walking into a station and asking if there is a complaint form. They are all seriously harassed and intimidated. The undercover person usually attempts to retreat at this point. And when they fail to identify themselves or reveal the nature of their intended complaint, they frequently get stalked, threatened, and arrested.

    Scary shit and hard to believe you're in the US. And according to the video producers, that series of videos constitutes a tiny portion of the video they had at the time. And since those videos have been released, they have said their repository of like videos have exploded.

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