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Senator Introduces Bill To Stop Warrantless GPS Tracking 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the location-location-location dept.
bs0d3 writes "Right now the police and FBI are able to use GPS tracking devices, stingrays, and other tracking technologies without a warrant. They can read your personal emails without a warrant, they can recall your phone call history, all without a warrant. These are clear violations of the fourth amendment, but time and time again the courts are ruling that the fourth amendment doesn't protect people who use modern technology. This week Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Jason Chaffetz (D-UT) announced a bill with bipartisan support called the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act. It provides sorely needed legal clarity for the use of electronically-obtained location data that can be used to track and log the location and movements of individual Americans. The G.P.S. Act is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Constitution Project, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The full text of the bill can be read online."
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Senator Introduces Bill To Stop Warrantless GPS Tracking

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  • by mykos (1627575) on Friday October 21, 2011 @04:23PM (#37798858)
    Seems like every time something good happens for people's rights, Ron Wyden is always there getting it started. Can't we just clone him and replace the entire senate?
    • by rish87 (2460742)
      I'm surprised to see an IL politician involved, I currently live in IL and these guys are usually horrible.
      • by GodInHell (258915)
        No doubt he's pressuring the stingray makers for contributions.
      • I was surprised by this also, I just like living in the 'Land of Corruption' opps I mean 'Land of Lincoln'. Horrible is the word I would use, but I guess it fits also.
      • Kirk is not especially corrupt. He is a standard issue machine Republican and I hate most of what he does, but he is no more currupt that any other senator playing the money game. (which is a different issue)

        I still will never vote for him, he tows the Republican line FAR too much, but I'm glad (if shocked) he is co-sponsoring this bill.

    • by DanTheStone (1212500) on Friday October 21, 2011 @04:35PM (#37799026)

      Best comment I've seen about him yet (from an anonymous commenter on another site):

      "I'd like to order a couple of Wydens for my state, is Oregon going to be making any more or do you guys want the monopoly on politicians with heads outside their asses?"

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        "I'd like to order a couple of Wydens for my state, is Oregon going to be making any more or do you guys want the monopoly on politicians with heads outside their asses?"

        You do realize you are talking about the fellow who, when running against Gordon Smith for the senate, promised to run a clean, above-board respectable campaign based on issues and not mudslinging? And then two days later the "Smith killed a kid" ads started showing up?

        Smith owns a food processing company. A young worker there died in an accident. The ads made it out that Smith was personally responsible for the death. Two days after those ads appeared, Smith appeared in ads with the kids parents, who sup

        • by JohnFen (1641097)

          I don't remember that, and I can't find it online. Citation? What I do remember from that campaign is that Smith ran a very dirty campaign and Wyden's grew increasingly mud-slinging in response. So what you say could be essentially true, although I suspect a bit exaggerated.

          Dirty campaigns aside, Wyden's performance in office has been, overall, pretty fantastic. There aren't many politicians nowadays who represent actual human beings, and he's one of them.

          • by Obfuscant (592200)
            This [google.com] is about all I can find.

            The Wyden campaign was the one that started the dirty ads. As for representing "actual human beings", well, thanks so much for the kind words. He doesn't represent me very well. Does that make me not a human in your opinion?

            He is great for the liberals that make up the two major cities in Oregon. He grabs onto a lot of hot-button issues but then never delivers. He's got the union backing, but apparently we should believe that they wouldn't listen to him regarding running this c

            • by belg4mit (152620)

              This [google.com] is about all I can find.

              The Wyden campaign was the one that started the dirty ads. As for representing "actual human beings", well, thanks so much for the kind words. He doesn't represent me very well. Does that make me not a human in your opinion?

              Don't be obtuse, he was clearly referring to natural persons vs legal persons...
              or wait, is that (obfuscant) you Wehrhauser?

        • by hedwards (940851)

          But, were they being run by his campaign or by a group supporting him? The reason I ask is that there's been tons of money in recent years for various swiftboating outfits to engage in that sort of behavior, they're beyond the control of the politicians campaign and can raise a lot of money independently.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            But, were they being run by his campaign or by a group supporting him? The reason I ask is that there's been tons of money in recent years for various swiftboating outfits to engage in that sort of behavior, they're beyond the control of the politicians campaign and can raise a lot of money independently.

            I agree with you that Citizens United was a very bad decision.

            • by jhigh (657789)
              This has nothing to do with Citizens United - it is campaign finance laws that created this. These aren't corporations running these ads, these are shadow PACs created by the campaign to sling the mud that they don't have the guts to.
              • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

                This has nothing to do with Citizens United - it is campaign finance laws that created this.

                But Citizens United removed all limits on how much these shadow PACs can spend, and guarantees anonymity.

                • by jhigh (657789)
                  Wrong on both counts - Citizens United had nothing to do with independent expenditures by PACs.
          • by jhigh (657789)

            But, were they being run by his campaign or by a group supporting him? The reason I ask is that there's been tons of money in recent years for various swiftboating outfits to engage in that sort of behavior, they're beyond the control of the politicians campaign and can raise a lot of money independently.

            If you believe that, you're a fool. Those groups are just as much a part of the campaign as the candidate. Sure, they jump through some hoops to avoid blatantly violating campaign finance laws forbidding coordination (at least at the federal level), but it is a well-known tactic to use third parties to say things that it would be unseemly for the candidate to say.

            "We really need to get it out there that %opponent% beats his wife, but we obviously can't run an ad saying that."

            "Well, I could always ca

        • by mykos (1627575) on Friday October 21, 2011 @04:59PM (#37799306)
          I would vote for a hundred senators who run mudslinging campaigns but still do their jobs well than to continually elect citizen haters who blow rainbows up my ass every six years.
        • by GodInHell (258915)
          whining is for losers. Politics is hardball. No need to apologize for throwing "shit" at your opponent.
        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          Smith owns a food processing company. A young worker there died in an accident. The ads made it out that Smith was personally responsible for the death.

          Whether or not Wyden launched some dirty tricks campaign with a false campaign ad (it turns out he did not), when you own a company and a kid dies in an accident in your plant, you are personally responsible.

          • How? Did you personally cause the kid to die?

            • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

              How? Did you personally cause the kid to die?

              Me? No. There have been no children killed at my business.

              They way I understand it, the kid was killed at this candidate's, Smith's, business. And unless the kid said "Hey, watch this!" and then leaped into a meat grinder, then Smith bears personal responsibility.

              I'm not talking about legal responsibility. I'm talking about responsibility. When you own a business that provides you with profit, you are responsible for what happens there personally, the fictio

    • by h00manist (800926)

      Maybe. But I have to wonder if it's just toothless legislation.

      • Or worse, it could open the door to collecting the information using some exotic class of secret warrant that can be issued in bulk and retroactively by a special judicial representative chosen to rubber stamp such documents.
        • by thomkt (59664)

          Or worse, it could open the door to collecting the information using some exotic class of secret warrant that can be issued in bulk and retroactively by a special judicial representative chosen to rubber stamp such documents.

          I haven't read the bill, but given Wyden's stance on warnentless searches and the way the Justice Department is interrupting the PATRIOT Act, it wouldn't surprise me if this bill addressed this issue as well

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      I know, right? Even conservatives like him.

    • Ron Wyden isn't the only Congressman who has at least the consistent appearance of motives to champion the Common Good; there are others. Another two that most readily come to mind are Kucinich of Ohio and McDermott of Washington (State).

      These three at least need to be held up as examples of what result we should get from electing people to "lead" us. Too many of the bastards quickly forget that WE HIRED THEM.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Must be nice to have hope and all, but in my state we have the corp hq of Wally World, so we're just fucked and have been for several decades now. We vote for Ds its a corp kissing DINO, we vote for Rs its a corp shilling RINO, hell I just vote green across the board now, at least that way I didn't personally vote for a corp stooge.

        as for TFA? Thanks to the people of the states that elected congressmen that actually do their job, for those of us without that option its much appreciated. Thanks.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    No one has posted yet. Can it be everyone is too busy reading TFA?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    but time and time again the courts are ruling that the fourth amendment doesn't protect people who use modern technology.

    If that is a fact then the "right to bear arms" doesn't apply to modern weapons either.

    • by Jeng (926980)

      Actually you are correct. That is indeed how that amendment has been applied.

      You are not allowed to have fully automatic weapons, nor armored vehicles or any number of modern weapons.

      Even the semi-automatic version of the P-90 is not able to be sold to civilians, there is a civilian model that has had a longer barrel added, but just making it semi-automatic wasn't enough to make it legal. There are plenty of weapons of that type that are much shorter, but how modern the P-90 is apparently scares the regul

      • There are plenty of weapons of that type that are much shorter, but how modern the P-90 is apparently scares the regulators.

        Regulators who shouldn't even exist, as the 2nd Amendment uses clear and uncompromising language which allows no room for regulatory interpretation. Are these weapons "arms"? Would one who sells them be an "arms dealer"? Then the right of the people to keep and bear them shall not be infringed. Period.

      • Incorrect again. The amendment has never been interpreted by the courts to have these limitations - thus far, limitations have been enforced either through executive mandate or by legislation through the Congress. The limitations on our ability to purchase fully automatic weapons is not based on the Supreme Court's interpretation of the 2nd amendment as it applies to individuals - it's based in a 1968 and a 1986 law that is yet to be challenged at the bench on that level. The only auspices under which thos
    • by nman64 (912054) *

      It's time for our senators to defend the right to arm bears with modern weapons! Won't anyone think of the cubs?

    • by Kjella (173770)

      If that is a fact then the "right to bear arms" doesn't apply to modern weapons either.

      Well if the US ever tried to actually summon the militia they have banned some of the most common assault rifles soldiers would have. Even in small arms fire they'd be seriously outgunned by a modern infantry. But then I don't think anyone seriously considers using them as a military unit anymore.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      If that is a fact then the "right to bear arms" doesn't apply to modern weapons either.

      It doesn't. It never did.

      Until the 1980s, nobody seriously believed that a "right to bear arms" meant that anybody should be able to get strapped.

      • Again, completely incorrect, and incongruous with well-known historical perspectives from both sides of the Revolution[. Read some history before you bother posting again.
        • Again, completely incorrect, and incongruous with well-known historical perspectives from both sides of the Revolution[. Read some history before you bother posting again.

          While I tend to agree with your sentiment, proof by assertion is bullshit -- especially when you do it twice.
          Without useful citations your posts are just noise.

    • "but time and time again the courts are ruling that the fourth amendment doesn't protect people who use modern technology" Can you provide some examples of this. Remember the law enforcement agencies can and do commit actions that infringe on the rights defined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights but it is the Judicial Branch that enforces these rights. Evidence is ruled inadmissible in a lot of court cases. One of the main reasons the government created Guantanamo was because the evidence they had would
  • That's just not the Stingray [youtube.com] that I used to know :(
  • Bipartisan? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mmcuh (1088773) on Friday October 21, 2011 @04:27PM (#37798906)
    Does "bipartisan support" mean that it has the support of both the major parties, or simply that it has the support of a couple of guys in each but will get voted down by a majority in both?
    • It seems to mean "something that even fanboi nutjobs can agree is a good idea".

    • Does "bipartisan support" mean that it has the support of both the major parties, or simply that it has the support of a couple of guys in each but will get voted down by a majority in both?

      Usually, when used by a politician, it means it is supported by that politician and at least one politician that caucuses with the other major party in one of the houses of Congress.

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Does "bipartisan support" mean that it has the support of both the major parties, or simply that it has the support of a couple of guys in each but will get voted down by a majority in both?

        Usually, when used by a politician, it means it is supported by that politician and at least one politician that caucuses with the other major party in one of the houses of Congress.

        ...and there's either little or no attached cost to approval. That's the reality of things today.

  • Jason Chaffetz (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 21, 2011 @04:28PM (#37798922)

    Jason is not a D-UT he is a R-UT. Please fix the post and do a little fact checking next time...

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Jason is not a D-UT he is a R-UT. Please fix the post and do a little fact checking next time...

      ...at least last time he reported in. Could be an I-UT before you know it.

  • Since at least 1990. Summary is incorrect.

    • by butlerm (3112)

      Chaffetz is not a senator either, but rather a member of the House of Representatives.

  • Legal and actual practice are two different worlds however. In short only rich people have privacy. The harsh reality in technology and privacy is that it's extremely difficult for anyone to actually prove anything and enforce one's rights. The law may say this and that is not legal, but the tools just make it easy to implement and impossible to trace. True privacy, not just on paper, is more and more becoming, in practice, a luxury few have money to buy and pay for. It takes a few lawyers and techs.

  • It's great that the bill was introduced to Congress. Now let's see it pass. I have my doubts of that happening between the "Law and Order" and "Stop the Terrorists at All Costs to Liberty" types of congressmen that seem to control Congress.
  • Was this in the constitution? That is insane. Why not say the amendment expires depending on what side of the bed the supreme justice wakes up on. What a load of crap? Is there a website that tracks horrible decisions and the people involved? Where is shame in our society? This is embarrassing.

    • Firstly, the 4th amendment protects against "unreasonable" search and seizure without a warrant. "Reasonable" is open to interpretation.

      The thinking goes like this... it's not illegal for somebody like a meter maid to walk up to your car, mark the tire, and walk away. This is one way a meter maid can "track" your car. They, via the chalk mark, must "modify" your tire to do so.

      The police can currently track suspects on public roads without a warrant through the expensive, dangerous, and error-prone method

      • The job of the courts is to draw the line to decide between the state's interest in the efficient operation of law enforcement and the citizen's interest in having his property untouched by the state.

        Nope. The job of the courts is to read the Constitution, look in the list of enumerated powers, and see if surveilling the citizenry is in the list.

        If the answer is yes, the court is then supposed to read the bill of rights and see if warrantless surveillance is expressly forbidden.

        Allowing unauthorized/forbidden activity because it makes the government's job easier is precisely what they are *not* supposed to do.

      • Firstly, the 4th amendment protects against "unreasonable" search and seizure without a warrant. "Reasonable" is open to interpretation.

        "Reasonable" is very much open to interpretation, so it's a good thing that thinking something is "reasonable" isn't sufficient justification by itself. The only sensible way to interpret that clause is to recognize first and foremost that a warrant is the sole mechanism by which searches and seizures can be authorized. If you think a particular search or seizure is "reasonable", you establish that legally by getting a warrant. Declaring an entire class of searches or seizures "reasonable" is no different f

  • by sirwired (27582) on Friday October 21, 2011 @04:49PM (#37799190)

    "These are clear violations of the fourth amendment..."

    If that were true, I don't think that "time and again" the courts would be ruling otherwise, and "legal clarity" would not be required. It's an unsettled area of law.

    Contrary to popular Slashdot belief, complete and utter legal ignoramuses do not end up as high-level judges. Certainly some of them may produce rulings with which there is legitimate grounds for appeal (and rulings with which a majority of Slashdot posters disagree), but that does not make those decisions blatantly unjustified from the start.

    Personally, I think it's borderline, and I don't know enough 4th-amdendment jurisprudence to make a definitive call.

    • "complete and utter legal ignoramuses do not end up as high-level judges"

      That's debatable, but it's obvious that authoritarian asshats have been filling the benches for the last couple decades at least.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      "These are clear violations of the fourth amendment..."

      If that were true, I don't think that "time and again" the courts would be ruling otherwise

      You assume the courts are honest and forthright. In reality, they constantly approve blatantly unconstitutional laws.

      Contrary to popular Slashdot belief, complete and utter legal ignoramuses do not end up as high-level judges

      No, you have to be very smart and well trained in order to contort logic such that it appears to justify this under the Constitution.

      • by sirwired (27582) on Friday October 21, 2011 @06:43PM (#37800188)

        Firstly, the position of your vehicle on public roads is not now, and never has been, subject to constitutional protections. Those public roads are public property, and any member of the public, or the state itself, can record data about what vehicles are traveling which roads when. (Just like you can collect data on public airspace usage... there are exhaustive databases that have years of flight tracking for every plane in the US that flew under a flight plan.) That data can be bought, sold, transferred, analyzed, reported on, used in lawsuits or criminal cases, etc. with no restrictions of any kind. This part of the law isn't the least bit vague. A little creepy, yes, but not legally questionable. The only legal questions are on the collection methods, not the data itself.

        The Constitutional question is: Can officers attach a device to your car without a warrant to make it more efficient to collect data that they could warrantlessly collect in other ways that would be more inefficient, expensive, and dangerous? Where do you balance the interests of the state in the efficient execution of law enforcement operations with the privacy rights of citizens? This is a common constitutional balancing act... an officer can frisk you and your clothing (property) without a warrant during an arrest, but he can't toss your car (another form of property.)

        An officer can, under current constitutional law, place a chalk mark on your tire to track how long it has been parked by the roadside. What are the legally significant distinctions between that and a GPS tracker in your tire well? Is that distinction enough to make the device "unreasonable"? There certainly are distinctions between the two, but where is the line of "reasonable" search without a warrant crossed?

        We can guess that officers placing such a device with no justification would not past constitutional muster, but is the Reasonable Suspicion standard sufficient? The two standards to choose from would be Reasonable Suspicion (no warrant needed) vs. Probable Cause (intrusive enough to make a warrant necessary.)

        This is not contorted logic here... it's a legitimate legal question where different judges have interpreted the relevant precedent differently. And it's not one I know the answer to.

        • by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Friday October 21, 2011 @07:41PM (#37800620) Homepage

          The Constitutional question is: Can officers attach a device to your car without a warrant to make it more efficient to collect data that they could warrantlessly collect in other ways that would be more inefficient, expensive, and dangerous?

          Can they attach such a device to you, or your clothing? Why should your car be any different?

          Where do you balance the interests of the state in the efficient execution of law enforcement operations with the privacy rights of citizens? This is a common constitutional balancing act...

          What you mean, of course, is that in the interest of "efficient" law enforcement they get as close to the line as they can possibly get, and frequently cross over it only to be forgiven by courts which are ultimately part of the same organization and biased toward their side.

          We can guess that officers placing such a device with no justification would not past constitutional muster, but is the Reasonable Suspicion standard sufficient?

          There's only one constitutional standard: Probable Cause. "Reasonable" is something you establish by getting a warrant. If you haven't been issued a warrant then you haven't established that the search is reasonable. More to the point, authorization to perform a search or seizure is a warrant, and a declaration that an entire class of searches or seizures is authorized as "reasonable" without reference to specific persons or property and probably cause is strictly in violation of the second half of the 4th Amendment: "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."

          • by sirwired (27582)

            The Constitutional question is: Can officers attach a device to your car without a warrant to make it more efficient to collect data that they could warrantlessly collect in other ways that would be more inefficient, expensive, and dangerous?

            Can they attach such a device to you, or your clothing? Why should your car be any different?

            There is a difference between you/your clothing and your car. You car's primary use is to travel upon public roadways. You/your clothing do many other things, mostly in places where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. (I expect that the data from the GPS, once it crossed onto private property, would not be admissible until it again merged onto a public roadway.)

            We can guess that officers placing such a device with no justification would not past constitutional muster, but is the Reasonable Suspicion standard sufficient?

            There's only one constitutional standard: Probable Cause. "Reasonable" is something you establish by getting a warrant. If you haven't been issued a warrant then you haven't established that the search is reasonable. More to the point, authorization to perform a search or seizure is a warrant, and a declaration that an entire class of searches or seizures is authorized as "reasonable" without reference to specific persons or property and probably cause is strictly in violation of the second half of the 4th Amendment: "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."

            You are correct that "Reasonable Suspicion" does not appear in the Constitution. It is a term adopted by the legal system to describe

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              There is a difference between you/your clothing and your car.

              No such distinction is made in the fourth amendment:

              secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects

              All of them are secure, equally so. I hold that a person’s car is one of his effects.

            • You car's primary use is to travel upon public roadways.

              No, the primary purpose of my car is to take me and my possessions from place to place, and to be ready to do so at all times, regardless of the path I take. The fact that governments have arrogated to themselves most roads is irrelevant. That brings up a second point, that almost all the time when my car is not moving (i.e. when is is possible to attach a device), it is on my driveway, in my garage, or in a privately owned parking lot. Entering upon

    • by gstrickler (920733) on Friday October 21, 2011 @07:15PM (#37800404)

      Which part of "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." is unclear? Searching your cell phone without a warrant is a blatantly clear violation.

    • by bs0d3 (2439278)
      In 1928 the Supreme Court ruled that a warrant was not needed to intercept a landline telephone call, it wasn't until 1968 that ruling was over-turned and private phone calls via landline became protected under the fourth amendment. People who predate the invention of the telephone do in fact sit on the bench.
    • Yes. The courts obviously can't be wrong (subject to human error) or corrupt. That's simply impossible.

  • Honestly who thinks of these things? Do congressfolks have an aide or something who's sole job is to come up with titles that also have convenient acronym? or is it a congressional committee?
  • You could read a version of the bill that isn't formatted like it's perl:

    Here [loc.gov]

    BTW, this looks to have been introduced in the House back on June 14. The corresponding Senate bill (the subject of this story) was introduced on June 15 and has been languishing in the Judiciary Committee since then.

  • "It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for a person to intercept geolocation information pertaining to another person if such other person has given prior consent to such interception unless such information is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortuous act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any State."

    That is listed under exemptions (along with intercepting for foreign intel, emergency, and device theft). Wouldn't the easy way around this be

    • by robot256 (1635039)

      At least then they can't stick a magnetic box on your car for no reason and expect you to give it back to them when you find it. But that means the law achieves only half of its stated purpose. I don't think they can resolve the TOS loophole without tackling the broader issue of warrantless police data requests, which include cell phone location. Then there is tracking by the cell phone provider itself, which they will no doubt claim is necessary "for network analysis and reliability improvements" or wha

  • by sconeu (64226) on Friday October 21, 2011 @06:08PM (#37799926) Homepage Journal

    TERRORISTS!!!

    EVIL Terrorists!!!

    Evil Terrorists are going to get your children!!!

    Won't SOMEBODY Think Of The Children(tm)?

  • Sounds like someone forgot to pay a Senator off.

  • ... the opposite of whether Obama supports it.

    If Obama supports something, the Republicans will auto-hate it even if it originated with Republicans.

    So if Obama supports this bill, the Republicans will vote against it. If he opposes it, the bill will be on his desk for signing next week.

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