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Careful What You Post, the FBI Has More of These 761

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the do-you-see-what-i-see dept.
jamie writes "A comment posted to a website got its author's *friend's* car an unwanted aftermarket addon. The Orion Guardian ST820, a GPS tracking device, was attached to the underside of the car by the FBI. No warrant required. The bugged friend, a college student studying marketing, was apparently under suspicion because he's half-Egyptian. As Bruce Schneier says, 'If they're doing this to someone so tangentially connected to a vaguely bothersome post on an obscure blog, just how many of us have tracking devices on our cars right now ...' The ACLU is investigating." This follows up on our earlier mention of the same student, who turned the tracking device over to the FBI.
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Careful What You Post, the FBI Has More of These

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  • get a lawsuit (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ryanrule (1657199) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:13PM (#33884306)
    and get it to the supreme court. if they say this is legal, burn it down. simple really.
    • Re:get a lawsuit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hrvatska (790627) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:23PM (#33884478)
      After making that comment you might want to check your car for a tracking device.
    • by ConaxConax (1886430) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:33PM (#33884600)
      The link was http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/08599201315000 [yahoo.com] but that seems to be dead.
      The link can be searched on Google: http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/08599201315000 [google.co.uk]

      Here is the text from when it was active as the best I can do:

      The Government's New Right to Track Your Every Move With GPS Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway - and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements. That is the bizarre - and scary - rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants - with no need for a search warrant. (See a TIME photoessay on Cannabis Culture.) It is a dangerous decision - one that, as the dissenting judges warned, could turn America into the sort of totalitarian state imagined by George Orwell. It is particularly offensive because the judges added insult to injury with some shocking class bias: the little personal privacy that still exists, the court suggested, should belong mainly to the rich. This case began in 2007, when Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents decided to monitor Juan Pineda-Moreno, an Oregon resident who they suspected was growing marijuana. They snuck onto his property in the middle of the night and found his Jeep in his driveway, a few feet from his trailer home. Then they attached a GPS tracking device to the vehicle's underside. After Pineda-Moreno challenged the DEA's actions, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled in January that it was all perfectly legal. More disturbingly, a larger group of judges on the circuit, who were subsequently asked to reconsider the ruling, decided this month to let it stand. (Pineda-Moreno has pleaded guilty conditionally to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and manufacturing marijuana while appealing the denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained with the help of GPS.) In fact, the government violated Pineda-Moreno's privacy rights in two different ways. For starters, the invasion of his driveway was wrong. The courts have long held that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes and in the "curtilage," a fancy legal term for the area around the home. The government's intrusion on property just a few feet away was clearly in this zone of privacy. The judges veered into offensiveness when they explained why Pineda-Moreno's driveway was not private. It was open to strangers, they said, such as delivery people and neighborhood children, who could wander across it uninvited. (See the misadventures of the CIA.) Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who dissented from this month's decision refusing to reconsider the case, pointed out whose homes are not open to strangers: rich people's. 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. People who cannot afford such barriers have to put up with the government sneaking around at night. Judge Kozinski is a leading conservative, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, but in his dissent he came across as a raging liberal. "There's been much talk about diversity on the bench, but there's one kind of diversity that doesn't exist," he wrote. "No truly poor people are appointed as federal judges, or as state judges for that matter." The judges in the majority, he charged, were guilty of "cultural elitism."

      I don't know how well this stands, but hey, it's something!

    • Re:get a lawsuit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:33PM (#33884608)

      You know what the retarded thing is? The friend's comment that supposedly aroused suspicion is completely innocuous. All he's doing is pointing out how easy it is to attack the 99% of targets we haven't tried to harden, rather than the 1% we have, and concluding terrorism isn't much of a threat as a result.

      Agree with his conclusions or disagree, it's hard to shake the idea that the FBI is punishing him because he had the nerve to think rationally, and point out how retarded our whole "anti-terrorism" thing is. How dare he see through the farce?!

      • Re:get a lawsuit (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @01:08PM (#33885088) Homepage

        I need to point out that we actually don't know why the FBI is tracking this fellow. Every single reason anyone has given for the tracking has been pure speculation. In the original reddit post, the kid even said "we were high when we found it so we thought it was a bomb." So, for all we know, the FBI is tracking him related to a drug sting. There is no indication that blog posts or Muslim community connections had anything to do with it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      and get it to the supreme court. if they say this is legal, burn it down.

      From what I can tell, the FBI's only reason to place this bug on the guy's car is that he's "half Egyptian".

      I suppose next is having your car bugged if you're half-Mexican (in Arizona) or half-a-fag, or half liberal, or have uTorrent installed on your computer, or don't go to church on Sunday or if you don't have a little metal fish attached to the back of your car.

      What a second-rate nation the US has become in the past thirty years.

      • Re:get a lawsuit (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PRMan (959735) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @01:58PM (#33885924)

        or don't go to church on Sunday or if you don't have a little metal fish attached to the back of your car

        Or do.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LanMan04 (790429)

          Haven't you heard, the US is a "Christian Nation"!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by houghi (78078)

        So basically what you are saying is that first they came after the Arabs ...

    • Re:get a lawsuit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by catmistake (814204) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @01:29PM (#33885408) Journal

      and get it to the supreme court. if they say this is legal, burn it down. simple really.

      Too late. SCOTUS has already changed the meaning of the Second Amendment to something the Founders never intended. The purpose of the Second was so that those that carried arms could organize and could protect others from our own government. Now, it means self-defense. From selfless to selfish in just two, well-publicized cases.

  • by Gary W. Longsine (124661) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:13PM (#33884314) Homepage Journal
    Post to this thread, and be the first person on your block to receive a free GPS tracking device! (The device will be mounted under your car, hidden. Peel slowly, and see!)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by WCMI92 (592436)

      Try this on my property, you WILL get shot. No warrant, not invited, attempting to tamper with something of mine means risking lawful execution by Castle Doctrine law.

      Ignore the Constitution by taking some judge's opinion over the written law at your own risk.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by postbigbang (761081)

        What a gentle and meaningful way to solve a problem!

        Instead, why not drive a bugged vehicle to some interesting destinations?

        After all, a paranoid Castle Doctrine threatening to execute federal workers or contractors wouldn't get you under any kind of real suspicion, would it? After all, this is just between us, right?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Surt (22457)

        Yeah, because the FBI sucks at finding good times to do these things. Good luck with that. They'll shoot you dead before you make it out your front door with your gun. Unless you happen to be that one navy seal who posts on slashdot, you lose in this confrontation.

        • by Jawnn (445279) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:39PM (#33884678)

          Yeah, because the FBI sucks at finding good times to do these things. Good luck with that. They'll shoot you dead before you make it out your front door with your gun. Unless you happen to be that one navy seal who posts on slashdot, you lose in this confrontation.

          He's not a Seal, but he's logged about 5,000 hours on Halo II in his mom's basement, and since he's 28 years old now, he could actually buy a firearm. So you shadow-government federal toadies better watch out, man.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by straponego (521991)
        Okay, given Law Enforcement's propensity to mix up addresses in no-knock, flash-bang, run-in-shooting raids, I would like to ask the fine, upstanding gentlemen of the FBI to note that despite the fact that my UID is similar to WCMI92's, and we're both on the same site, I have never even heard of him before and have nothing to do with the parent statement.

        Wait, now we're in the same thread... crapcrapcrap....
      • Re:got spyware? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:35PM (#33884628)
        That is not how Castle Doctrine works, and you do a great disservice to all responsible gun owners by spreading such FUD, not to mention being a poor example of character. There would be insufficient evidence from somebody just walking up to your vehicle, stooping down, and then walking away for you to 'reasonably believe' that they were committing an act sufficient enough to warrant a response of deadly force. You would not *ever* get that to stand up in court.

        People like you are an embarrassment to those of us who work hard to get things like Castle Doctrine in place, and then you interpret it, in complete ignorance, to mean that you can kill any person for any reason so long as they have a foot over your property line. I wouldn't be surprised if you were a false flag plant of gun control advocates out to make gun owners look bad.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Wonko the Sane (25252)

          There would be insufficient evidence from somebody just walking up to your vehicle, stooping down, and then walking away for you to 'reasonably believe' that they were committing an act sufficient enough to warrant a response of deadly force.

          If it happened at night and in Texas it just might. Note the section on criminal mischief:

          Sec. 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:

          (1) if he would be justif

        • Re:got spyware? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mlts (1038732) * on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @01:35PM (#33885532)

          I have seen two people in Austin misconstrue Castle Doctrine. The first was someone who shot someone who was entering a neighbor's house. The second was someone who tried to shoot at another driver due to road rage.

          Both people are facing heavy duty felony prison terms.

          To get a concealed weapons permit in Texas requires to take (and pass) classes and be able to at least hit a target which shows that you know which end the bullet comes out of. These classes include knowing that discharging a firearm can bring a lot of charges, even if it is plinking in the air for a new year's celebration. Shooting at a person will be an attempted murder charge, and an assault with a deadly weapon charge on the spot unless there are real special circumstances (self defense, defense of property).

          Don't assume Texas is a gun happy, lawless place. Yes, we have concealed carry laws and castle doctrine, but judges here will throw the book at anyone who does not follow the CHL laws to the letter. And yes, even the type of handgun is considered, as there is a CHL for a revolver, and a CHL for a semi-auto.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rednip (186217)

        lawful execution by Castle Doctrine law.

        Can you tell me the last time a citizen was able to successfully use weapons to defend his property from 'intrusion' by any determined authority, local or federal? Rambo fantasies are so lame.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheSync (5291)

          Can you tell me the last time a citizen was able to successfully use weapons to defend his property from 'intrusion' by any determined authority, local or federal? Rambo fantasies are so lame.

          The Branch Davidians stopped the initial attempt [youtube.com] of the authorities to enter their compound using their weapons. We'll never know how long they really could have held out - assuming the fire was started by them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by digitalunity (19107)

      Hell yes. I wouldn't give it back either.

      I would disassemble it and post it on youtube. Or try to hack it and see if I can come up with a neat use for it.

      Why give it back? If they put it on your car, do they still own it? I'd like to think not.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jandrese (485)
        They're going to bust you for destruction of federal property. You can argue that it was put on your car on your property, but I wouldn't expect to get very far. If a police car pulls into your driveway and parks there for 15 minutes while the cop runs down some suspect, you don't suddenly own the car.

        That said, the FBI should really put a sticker on the things that says something like "Property of the US Government, if found, call 1-800-XXX-XXXXX".
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

          They're going to bust you for destruction of federal property. You can argue that it was put on your car on your property, but I wouldn't expect to get very far.

          The lesson here is do not post to the internet about the issue until you've fully taken it apart and documented it.
          Then post anonymously via an internet cafe or an unsecured wifi access point.
          But please do make the effort so that the rest of us can find out as much about it as possible.

      • by vandelais (164490) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:33PM (#33884596)

        You should attach it next to the one I stuck on Carly Fiorina's campaign bus.

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @01:03PM (#33885018)
      Won't work on me. My car has a special "white man" transmitter. Being of European heritage, my car was by default equipped with a device that signals to cops not to pull me over, to FBI agents that I'm a good American, and to gated communities that I'm okay to let in. The downside is that the signal has damaged my motor cortex skills, meaning I'm a terrible dancer and even more terrible basketball player. But I do get a 10% discount at participating Cracker Barrel restaurants.
  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:14PM (#33884324)
    Just because I criticize the US government's homeland policies doesn't mean... hey, what's this big red blinking thing on the underside of my laptop?
  • Operation: Fearstorm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:14PM (#33884332) Homepage Journal
    4chan / Anon should start a campaign called "operation fearstorm" in which local crimestoppers and FBI tip lines are flooded with anonymous terrorism and pedophile suspicions of random citizens, or perhaps the families of law enforcement, local politicians, and the clergy.

    Mainstream media coverage of the fiasco will show just how stupid and bust-desperate the Feds are. And, of course, the most dangerous are the informants and provocateurs [globalresearch.ca] working for the feds. They should be rounded up and beaten brutally.
  • This makes me want to screw with them. Get their attention - get a tracker installed. Find the tracking device, duplicate it and its signal and start sticking them on strange things like freight trains, ships, delivery trucks, send one to space on a weather balloon ...

    I wonder what RF they use. If it's cellular that could be a problem. But also not a particularly reliable situation for the FBI.

  • I am a Muslim (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mapkinase (958129)

    .. and most of my friends do not care about this. It's part of the religion to care less about possible adversities as a result of your good action.

    Albanian emigrant - one of those that were trapped by FBI via Egyptian scumbag into the army base plot - famously said to that informant at some point (pre-arrest, of course): "I do not care if you work for FBI, I will do what I have to do". (something to that avail).

    That's the attitude unbelievers should learn from Muslims: if you stand for something right, do

    • Re:I am a Muslim (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dan667 (564390) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:29PM (#33884542)
      Actually this is the attitude of all religious nuts. Extremist Christians blew up a Planned Parenthood in California last month even though it is clearly illegal. Israeli Extremists are occupying the West Bank, because they think it was given to them by God. All religious extremism has this same type of stupidity.
      • Think bigger (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @01:09PM (#33885106)

        Religious extremism is merely a tiny subset in the world of extremism. What all extremists have in common is that they employ an initiation of physical force (coercion, not persuasion) as a means to their end. Indeed, it isn't their ideology or motive that makes them evil; it is precisely the initiation of force (or threat thereof). It is the initiation of force itself that is extreme, and the acute observer will realize that the label "extremist" applies to anyone who resorts to coercion as a means to an end, including schoolyard bullies, thiefs, and (get ready for this) governments.

        Many people are fond of claiming that money is the "root of all evil". On the contrary, it is coercion which is the root of all evil, because coercion is the one absolute prerequisite of all forms of injustice.

      • Re:I am a Muslim (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @01:16PM (#33885190)

        if you stand for something right, do not be afraid of adversary consequences.

        Actually this is the attitude of all religious nuts. Extremist Christians blew up a Planned Parenthood in California last month even though it is clearly illegal. Israeli Extremists are occupying the West Bank, because they think it was given to them by God. All religious extremism has this same type of stupidity.

        You interpreted his statement 180degrees. He was saying "Don't be afraid of what others will do to you" (ie expect to be brutalized for what you believe because people will misunderstand) Of course, he chose one of the _worst_ possible examples since the FBI clearly understood correctly that the dude wanted to attack an army base.

    • Re:I am a Muslim (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:45PM (#33884748)
      Dan667 has already said what I was going to say. This is why people are afraid of Muslims and other religious fundamentalists. All you apparently need is to feel what you're doing is right and then you ignore everyone and everything else. It's a dangerous mindset that is divorced from reality and responsibility by design. It is the very mindset that has enabled and empowered all of the atrocities committed in the name of religion, and for that matter, ideologies in general.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iammani (1392285)

        Er, wouldnt you do what you think is right, irrespective of what others think about it? If thats the definition of a religious extremist, I would be an extremist too.

      • Re:I am a Muslim (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sourcerror (1718066) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @01:32PM (#33885460)

        On the other hand the Holocaust was enabled by conformism.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Where 'conformism' is getting a enough people to agree to disregard everyone and everything else together, yes, but it's just scaling up the individual problem to a group problem. The difference between a person who hates homosexuals because of his personal interpretation of a religious text who goes on to commit murder on that pretext and a group of people who hate homosexuals because of a collective interpretation of a religious text who then go on to abuse the authority of state to execute the otherwise
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wolf12886 (1206182)

        So your suggesting that If the people writing the laws tell you and action is wrong, that makes it intrinsically true? He said nothing about ignoring popular opinion, only that his ultimate choice of the correct course of action was not based on the personal consequences of said decision.

        I hate to pull a godwin, but if you'd lived in Nazi Germany would you have sided [ethically] with the Nazis, simply because theirs was the prevailing ideology?

    • Re:I am a Muslim (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:54PM (#33884872) Homepage

      and most of my friends do not care about this. It's part of the religion to care less about possible adversities as a result of your good action.

      Yeah. See, *sane* people fight for the fucking rights their government is supposed to guarantee them. Shrugging your shoulders, grinning, and bearing it because you feel it's some tribulation placed upon you by god is a brilliant way to ensure your continued persecution at the hands of those who would use you as a scapegoat in an ugly political climate (like, say, a period dominated by a weak economy, a couple of ugly wars, and a highly divided populace).

      You help *no one* with your high-minded apathy. All you do is enable the bigots and the opportunists, implicitly validating their actions by refusing to fight against them.

  • by embolalia (1561119) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:16PM (#33884382)
    Anyone else tempted to try and drive a route that spells "I know you're watching" when seen on a map?
  • Bzzzt. Wrong. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr 44 (180750) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:17PM (#33884388)

    Well, this article doesn't "follow up" on jack. It's just less informative and more inflammatory than the original.

    He wasn't being tracked becasue of a blog post at all. His father was a notable political figure, and he travels and sends money to suspicious locations. From the article linked on the original slashdot story:

    The agents also knew he was planning a short business trip to Dubai in a few weeks. Afifi said he often travels for business and has two teenage brothers in Egypt whom he supports financially. They live with an aunt. His U.S.-born mother, who divorced his father five years ago, lives in Arizona.

    Afifi's father, Aladdin Afifi, was a U.S. citizen and former president of the Muslim Community Association here, before his family moved to Egypt in 2003. Yasir Afifi returned to the United States alone in 2008, while his father and brothers stayed in Egypt, to further his education he said. He knows he's on a federal watchlist and is regularly taken aside at airports for secondary screening.

  • Obscurity (Score:3, Informative)

    by swanzilla (1458281) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:18PM (#33884404) Homepage
    Alexa has Reddit at #239...Schneier at #36148. Just for the record.
  • Legal tracking. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Timmmm (636430) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:19PM (#33884418)

    One interesting thing from TFA is that newer GPS trackers are installed under the bonnet, and powered by the car battery. I can sort of see how one might say you can track cars without a warrant using magnetic, battery powered GPS trackers (like the one in the article), but how on earth can breaking into the car not require a warrant?

    • Re:Legal tracking. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @01:33PM (#33885480)
      Actually, you're probably wearing an even better FBI tracker on your belt right now. You even paid for it yourself, with two-year contract to a carrier who will gladly allow the FBI to follow you anytime they like. Hell, you've even given them a mic and video camera to use too. Think that sounds all tin-foil hat? Read all about it [cnet.com].
  • How much do the new ones weigh, and would the scales used to weigh trucks (many of which are available for weighing cars) detect the difference? That one in the first story about this, allegedly an old model, looked heavy enough that they'd catch it, but if they've got something that weighs just a couple of ounces, maybe not. Of course, to do this, you would have to be absolutely meticulous about cleaning and emptying the car before each weigh-in, and you'd always need the same equipment in and on the car
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
      How much do the new ones weigh, and would the scales used to weigh trucks (many of which are available for weighing cars) detect the difference?

      Too many variables. 1/2 gallon of gas either way would more than make up the difference.
  • Rules... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rotide (1015173) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:20PM (#33884430)

    If the government has a warrant to track your vehicle with a GPS device, I'm fine with them tracking it.

    Some caveats.

    1) They should _not_ be allowed onto private property to install said devices. That's a slippery slope. If your property is not private, then what is? If I'm on my driveway, apparently it's fair game "because the UPS driver can walk on it". But what if you park in the yard because too many cars are in the driveway? What if you park around back? What if you park in a car port? What if it's in the garage but the door is open enough to get in? What if... No. Follow me and tag my car when it's in a public place, again, if you have a warrant to do so.

    2) If I find a device on my car and I don't know you put it there. It's mine, period. Now, if you tell me its there and that's its government property and I'm legally obligated to leave it there, fine. I can rent a car (I guess that's why they don't tell you). But you can't expect me to just inherently know that the device isn't mine when I had no idea you put it there without my knowledge. For all I know it's a part of the car right out of the factory.

    This BS with agents/contractors going onto private property installing devices and then threatening you when you find it... It has to stop.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      Actually, a vehicle tracking device is pretty crude these days. The tracking devices of choice today are cellphones. With built-in GPS (with easy law enforcement override if you shut it off), and procedures from all the major carriers for law enforcement tracking--it's a no-brainer. And they don't even have to send an agent out to your house. They could probably even find a way to remotely enable the mic to spy on you directly if they really wanted to (I would hope that the carriers would at least resist th
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Angst Badger (8636)

      If I find a device on my car and I don't know you put it there. It's mine, period.

      You can safely assume that if I find a device on my car, it's going to "fall off" on some heavily traveled road. If it happens to be a GPS tracking device, then you'll know exactly where to look when you want to collect data about its durability.

  • by crumbz (41803) <.moc.liamg>maps ... uj>maps_evomer> on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:21PM (#33884448) Homepage

    Given that the 7th and 9th Circuits have OK'd warrantless tracking, I am unsure how quickly the Supreme Court would grant cert on this issue. And given the current members of the Court, I might not like their decision.

  • Strange (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kellyb9 (954229) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:25PM (#33884492)
    I read a series of the attached articles. A seperate instance upon which the apparent ruling that allows this particular abuse of power said: "On two occasions, agents sneaked into his driveway before dawn to affix the tracking devices to the undercarriage of his Jeep." Can't you at the very least say that this constitutes trespassing or illegal search? I'm shocked that this doesn't violate constitutionally granted freedoms (privacy, illegal search, etc.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Americano (920576)

      The problem is that to the court's thinking, there's no "expectation of privacy" in a driveway unless there's obvious effort that's been placed at excluding random passers-by: e.g., fencing, and a gate. The thinking being, "Well if you care about keeping your driveway private, you should have made an effort to make it so people can't access it."

      The dissenting opinion (interestingly from a fairly conservative judge appointed by Reagan) actually cited the fact that this creates an economic imbalance - poor

  • Motorcycles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:26PM (#33884506) Homepage Journal
    Here is one other advantage of using a motorcycle as your primary means of transportation. It's a lot harder to hide anything on a motorcycle than it is to hide something on a car.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger (8636)

      It's a lot harder to hide anything on a motorcycle than it is to hide something on a car.

      Eh, sort of. When's the last time you looked at the underside of your engine block? While there are fewer places to hide things on a bike, even one is enough if you don't check it.

  • by b4upoo (166390) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:27PM (#33884520)

    Search your car for the tracking unit. Remove it and try and be creative by placing it on a taxi or other highly mobile vehicle. I do wonder how long it would take the spooks to figure out they were accumulating data on the wrong car.

  • I found one (Score:3, Funny)

    by SnarfQuest (469614) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:39PM (#33884680)

    I found one of those electronic thingeys in my car, with lots of wires plugged into it, so I ripped the sucker out. Then, according to my mechanic, someone stole my ECU, which cost me $300 to replace. And those damn FBI agents also snuck another one of those devices into my car. Talk about your bad luck. I'm off to get rid of this new one, so wish me luck.

  • Makes you wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:56PM (#33884906)
    will car mechanics be gagged by the FBI from telling customers they found an odd box or two that don't belong?

    BTW, this particular device is a few generations out of date; now the Great Protectors of Our Rights have much tinier Boxes of Freedom that are surreptitiously powered via the cars' battery cable.
  • Dear FBI (Score:4, Funny)

    by Jonah Hex (651948) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <smtodxeh>> on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:57PM (#33884932) Homepage Journal

    I am currently seeking an IT position, and have over 35 years experience in Wintel servers, clients, and especially automated rollouts, OS, and application customization. Full resume upon request.

    HEX

    Muslim Bomb Cell Biological Illuminati President Obama Genius Terrorist Ground Future Star 911 Zero Alien Black Helicopter Tracking Bazinga

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by badboy_tw2002 (524611)

      My keysoard ib fucked up bo pleabe excube me.

      I think right now Osama is the right man to fix America. Libtening to everything he bayb, you know he'b right, and I agree with everything he'b done. Go Osama Go!

      Man, gotta fix get my b and s keyb fixed!

  • by TheSync (5291) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @01:40PM (#33885612) Journal

    How can the GPS work under a car? I'd think with all that metal on top, the GPS signal would be pretty attenuated.

    Maybe if it was near the edge of the bottom of the car with an antenna that gets a sideview, even then I'm not sure it would see enough sats to get a fix.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by adolf (21054)

      RF doesn't get blocked by metal and other surfaces. Rather: sometimes it reflects off in some other direction, and sometimes it gets absorbed and turned into (typically a very tiny amount of) heat or electricity, and whatever is left passes through with whatever amount of attenuation.

      The ground/asphalt/bitumen/tarmac/concrete under the car is no exception to this: some signal bounces off of them. Reflected signals tend to be less accurate than direct line-of-sight signals, but then fixing a GPS position

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @01:57PM (#33885918) Homepage

    The device shown has the FCC ID number "O9EQ2438F-M" on the outside of the box, as required by law. FCC ID numbers can be looked up in the FCC database, [fcc.gov] where details of the device and pictures of the electronics are available. It's a cell phone module, of course. The FCC was told it was for "stolen currency tracking". The maker was Wavecom, since acquired by Sierra Wireless. The unit dates from 2005.

    That's just a standard RF module. That application covers the addition of a spread-spectrum module to upgrade the cell access to support PCS networks. The base device, according to the FCC application, is FCC ID NBI-MTAG216. This is more interesting. It's a "Trac Pak V", from "Spectrum Management LLC" of Carrolton, TX.

    When the spread-spectrum module was added, the company issued a press release about it. [findarticles.com] "Spectrum Management, L.L.C. [sm-ets.com], a global provider of innovative physical and electronic security products which include its proprietary asset tracking and management systems, announced today the completion of its TracPac CS Tag and the development of an all-new web-based tracking and location system. Spectrum has combined technologies with Wavecom, a leading provider of pre-packaged wireless communications solutions for automotive, industrial and mobile professional applications, with a wide range of fully integrated modules and modems. The new Tag design pairs Wavecom's Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) module with GPSOne, and Spectrum's proprietary VHF homing technology to provide a wide range of Location Based Services (LBS). Spectrum Management expects to offer similar tracking and location services on Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications by simply substituting Wavecom's plug-in compatible GSM module."

    Spectrum Management's predecessor company was ProNet, which was a public company in the 1990s. [sec.gov] They were acquired by Metrocall, and the tracking business was split off as Electronic Tracking Systems. They started as a pager company, but branched out into tracking devices. From their SEC filing: [sec.gov] "In 1988, the Company began to apply advanced wireless technology to the security business by marketing radio-activated electronic tracking systems to financial institutions. At December 31, 1996, the Company's security systems consisted of 29,501 miniature radio transmitters, or "TracPacs," in service." Most of these were leased to banks, and attached to items of value or hidden in bundles of currency. The 1990s model was a pre-GPS technology; they had to get local cops to install receivers (like LoJack does) for this to work. So it only worked in a few markets, and they were having trouble expanding, from their SEC filings. The newer technology doesn't have that limitation.

    So it's a stock piece of law enforcement equipment, circa 2005.

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