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Privacy United States Your Rights Online

Court Orders Gov't To Disclose GPS Tracking Data 40

Posted by samzenpus
from the show-me-the-data dept.
First time accepted submitter concealment sent in this link which reads: "United States law enforcement officials have been utilizing data provided by global positioning satellite systems to track down individual suspects, without having to demonstrate probable cause before a judge first — that much is known. Rights groups such as the ACLU have wondered, just how much of that goes on? The rights group's investigation of this practice has inadvertently triggered a renewal of the debate over privacy policy versus public disclosure, and whether it's possible for an agency or other entity to reveal data that could lead to further revelation of personally identifiable data (PID), without officially violating privacy. The final outcome could set a new precedent for privacy policy, not just by the government but for enterprises as well."
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Court Orders Gov't To Disclose GPS Tracking Data

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  • by Sun (104778) <shachar@shemesh.biz> on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:04PM (#37331084) Homepage

    I'm not sure whether you actually got it in the end or not, but just to make sure...

    The Police are not using your GPS in order to track you. As you said, it is a one-way device (though, to be honest, a-gps does reveal your general whereabouts to anyone listening, as it reveals what satellites you're interested in).

    What this is talking about is a government program where they discreetly place a GPS + GSM module inside your car, and then track where you are going, without a warrant or probable cause.

    Shachar

  • by ZOP (240653) * on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:06PM (#37331100) Homepage

    GPS itself is most definitely one way. The constellation of satellites blanket the earth with their signals. A GPS receiver decodes all of them, and needs to decode at least 3 in parallel to get a location fix, the more it can decode in parallel the closer the fix will be. Add WAAS data which will help the GPS device to correct for minor atmospheric variations too. But it is all one way, receive only. The only way for location data to get off of a device is via some non-GPS medium. 3G/4G/WiFi are the most common. Some devices (iPhone) and software (Google Latitude/Maps) log and correllate this data in various ways, and upload it.

    A telephone carriers systems have, at any given point in time, at least rough knowledge of a location of every single phone on it's network. It has to, it's part of the system and protocols, and they don't work without this knowledge. That is NOT the same as people/persons having the data and having access to it. It is also not the same as having a historical record, or archive/log of this location data, but that data is strictly limited to the 3G/4G/CDMA/GSM/etc network coverage information and signal strength information. During a 911/E911 call that data, along with the phones own location data is used to get a position fix on the phone that is passed along to E911 capable centers, I don't know exactly how this works since I've never worked that side of things.

    So it's not really GPS, so much as publishing the results of a GPS fix (location data) by some other means. I haven't looked at the case or anything, and I REALLY hope that they're not making such an elementary mistake. Since GPS in and of itself is one way, and one way only.

  • by pavon (30274) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @03:10PM (#37331144)

    In order to obtain data without a warrant, the authorities must have a convincing argument that people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to that data. By claiming the personal privacy exemption to the FOIA to prevent releasing the data, the government is contradicting it's previous claim that they didn't need a warrant to get the data in the first place.

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