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NJ Judge Rules GPS Tracking of Spouse Legal 241

Posted by Soulskill
from the liberty-and-prosperity-but-not-privacy dept.
Endoflow2010 writes "The use of a GPS device to track your whereabouts is not an invasion of privacy in New Jersey, a state appellate court panel ruled today. Based on the battle of a divorcing Gloucester County couple, the decision helps clarify the rules governing a technology increasingly employed by suspicious spouses — many of whom hire private investigators. No state law governs the use of GPS tracking devices, and the ruling, which does not affect police officers, is the first to address the issue, said Jimmie Mesis, past president of the New Jersey Licensed Private Investigators Association. 'We only use it when we are sure we have the appropriate conditions,' [private investigator Lisa Reed] said, noting that investigators make sure GPS devices are installed in cars on public streets and not private areas, and that the spouse must have some legal or financial connection to the car."
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NJ Judge Rules GPS Tracking of Spouse Legal

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  • If a relationship is to the point of a person needing to track their significant other's movements with a GPS device, why do people even bother continuing the relationship? Seems to me that suspicion of that magnitude is pretty much in itself a sign of a failed relationship. I mean, if there's no trust, what's the point of the relationship at all? Why not just end the relationship and go your own way? People get divorced or break up every single day...it's not the end of the world.
    • Proof. Useful in divorce proceedings. As opposed to speculation, which is not.

    • If a relationship is to the point of a person needing to track their significant other's movements with a GPS device, why do people even bother continuing the relationship?

      Because proof of guilt is important.

      • As I understand, it doesn't work that way where I live. Marital infidelity is not a crime, and therefore the concept of "guilt" is irrelevant in divorce cases here.
        • I wasn't talking about infidelity, crime, or divorce cases. Look at the question I was answering.

          • I wasn't talking about infidelity, crime, or divorce cases. Look at the question I was answering.

            Ok...

            If a relationship is to the point of a person needing to track their significant other's movements with a GPS device, why do people even bother continuing the relationship ?

            Because proof of guilt is important.

            If not divorce or infidelity in a marriage, then exactly what relationship were you talking about severing? And for what cause? It looks like I'm not the only one missing your point, so perhaps some clarification is in order? <shrug>

            • If not divorce or infidelity in a marriage, then exactly what relationship were you talking about severing?

              If somebody wants to break up with somebody else, they typically would like to have a solid factual reason why.

              Here's what people want to avoid:

              "I'm breaking off our relationship because you come home late every night, I think you're with somebody else!"

              "Umm... I'm working overtime so I can pay the mortgage off sooner. See, here's my check that's way higher than normal. Well, I'm not guilty, but since you don't trust me it's over. Bye!"

              I think my post is unclear because it's deceptively simple: Instinct

    • If a relationship is to the point of a person needing to track their significant other's movements with a GPS device, why do people even bother continuing the relationship? Seems to me that suspicion of that magnitude is pretty much in itself a sign of a failed relationship. I mean, if there's no trust, what's the point of the relationship at all? Why not just end the relationship and go your own way? People get divorced or break up every single day...it's not the end of the world.

      So that they don't get stuck on the short end of the divorce settlement. Or, so that they can use the evidence to get a divorce settlement that will punish the other party for cheating on them.

    • Re:Honestly... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LanMan04 (790429) on Friday July 08, 2011 @01:23PM (#36697078)

      Kids? House? Shared commitments?

      We're not all 23 and dating, you know.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Adultery is one of the grounds for divorce. While NJ did move out of the dark ages in 2007 when it added reasonable no-fault divorce grounds there are still some advantages to having fault grounds (you can skip some of the waiting periods the no-fault grounds usually require, and some people still hope they'll get a judge who will "punish" the other person in the "which stuff do I get and who pays who alimony/child support" part).

    • by romanval (556418)
      That's far too rational an argument. When humans relationships are involved, many people get weak, selfish, and stupid
    • Relationships are organic. They can heal. In my opinion, giving up on a marriage simply due to a lack of trust is a sign of weakness of character. I'm not saying that there aren't any good reasons for divorce, because there are. (abuse and criminal conduct come to mind)

      I am saying that a marriage is a promise of "till death do us part". That should mean something.

  • This ruling is very backwards IMO. This is the part that bothers me the most:
    "many of whom hire private investigators" AND "investigators make sure GPS devices are installed in cars on public streets and not private areas"

    I don't have a problem with a wife installing one on her husband's car while it's on their private property. I don't even have a problem with an investigator installing it there as long as the wife is present at the time. If you're married, the car is partially hers anyway. If you can't st

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      It makes sense like it is. The couple was divorcing, so probably don't live together anymore. If the wife (or PI) goes to the husband's house and installs the GPS while the car is in his driveway, she is trespassing. That would mean a law has been broken, and therefore the installation of the device could be illegal. Having a PI install a GPS on your own car, when the car is not on someone else's private property, makes perfect sense.

    • This ruling is very backwards IMO. This is the part that bothers me the most:
      "many of whom hire private investigators" AND "investigators make sure GPS devices are installed in cars on public streets and not private areas"

      I don't have a problem with a wife installing one on her husband's car while it's on their private property. I don't even have a problem with an investigator installing it there as long as the wife is present at the time. If you're married, the car is partially hers anyway. If you can't stand the thought of something like that happening, don't get married (or live together), and your stuff will never be partially hers.

      However, I have a big problem with anyone messing with someone else's car while the car is on public streets. Does anyone else think this is completely backwards?

      It's hard to say for certain without asking the person who was quoted, but I think they are talking about installs when the spouse who hired them is not present. If the suspected spouse is gone and the car being tracked is at a shared house while the spouse who hired them is present, I doubt the investigator would have a problem with doing the install. Like as not they are talking about situations for the most part wherein the couple is already living separately. New Jersey is not a no-fault only state and

      • by s_p_oneil (795792)

        So a guy isn't allowed to start dating after he's already completely separated and moved out? That makes even less sense. Proof of adultery should be required BEFORE the separation.

    • by gfxguy (98788)
      I'm actually in-between... if it's your property, what difference does it make where you have it "modified?"
    • by fermion (181285)
      I see it this way. If a person owns or partially owns or has legal rights on the vehicle, they have the right to use the car. This would typically include such rights to install tires, radio, etc. The location does not matter. Now such things would normally be discussed.

      The problem, in my mind, would arise when a PI, though authorized to make alterations to the car, does so on private property not owned by the suspicious spouse. For instance, a spouse might go to see their extramarital lover on park

    • by rkww (675767)
      Waiting for a case where the wife or significant other finds the device and disabled it, then the car is stolen.
  • If you wanted to track your spouse's location, it would be easy enough to give him or her a cell phone that has some form of Family Locator [verizonwireless.com] service or install an app on an iPhone or Android. Really it's not that hard. You could give them the phone and call it a gift. If you're that paranoid, I must say, it's probably already time to get a divorce and hire a psychologist. Remember, distrust in a relationship is more often a sign of what you're willing to do than what they are.
    • by vux984 (928602)

      Remember, distrust in a relationship is more often a sign of what you're willing to do than what they are.

      You can reach a point where you trusted them just fine, and then you find out one way or another that they betrayed that trust and are cheating on you.

      At that point, what then? They've ALREADY betrayed you, and haven't told you the truth. The relationship is already unhinged. Putting a GPS tracker on the car isn't about trust, its simply evidence gathering for the inevitable court proceedings.

      • Yes, you either already know there's a problem, and are building a case or you're paranoid. I was addressing the second case. I have known people who regularly cheated that were horribly jealous and possessive, the comment was more directed towards people like that.
  • Bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Friday July 08, 2011 @02:04PM (#36697662) Journal

    The use of a GPS device to track your whereabouts is not an invasion of privacy in New Jersey, a state appellate court panel ruled today.

    No, that is not what the panel ruled. The panel ruled that someone with at least partial ownership of a vehicle may install, or cause to be installed, a GPS tracking device even if said person is not the primary user of said vehicle.
     
    This ruling is very narrow and does not address placing a GPS tracking device in a car one does not own.

  • The titles of both the /. post and the original article imply it's okay to track your spouse, as if you own them and can follow them around, which is not true without their consent. The summary clarifies this as does the original article body. #1 vehicles are in public places and #2 the person who hired the investigator owns or partially owns the car.

    Essentially you are asking a private investigator to put a GPS tag on your private property. Also, if the car needs to be tagged, they want to make sure the

  • by Picass0 (147474) on Friday July 08, 2011 @02:28PM (#36697900) Homepage Journal

    GPS wouldn't be there very long. From what I've seen New Jersey residents are used to looking under their cars before they start them.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday July 08, 2011 @02:29PM (#36697918)

    When you're at the point of hiring me to follow your spouse, your marriage is already over.

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