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After US v. Jones, FBI Turns Off 3,000 GPS Tracking Devices 189

suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from the Wall Street Journal: "The Supreme Court's recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a 'sea change' inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann. Mr. Weissmann, speaking at a University of San Francisco conference called 'Big Brother in the 21st Century' on Friday, said that the court ruling prompted the FBI to turn off about 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use. These devices were often stuck underneath cars to track the movements of the car owners. In U.S. v. Jones, the Supreme Court ruled that using a device to track a car owner without a search warrant violated the law. After the ruling, the FBI had a problem collecting the devices that it had turned off, Mr. Weissmann said. In some cases, he said, the FBI sought court orders to obtain permission to turn the devices on briefly – only in order to locate and retrieve them."
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After US v. Jones, FBI Turns Off 3,000 GPS Tracking Devices

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  • Just an idea... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @10:43AM (#39163815)
    What would happen if I happened to find such a device on my car and put a fine metallic mesh grounded to the chassis of the vehicle? They would have a serious problem, I guess...
  • Re:3,000? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @11:33AM (#39164111) Journal
    Are you surprised that the number is high, or that the number is low?

    Personally, what I'd love to know is whether the FBI was being lazy with those 3,000(if we can do it with or without a court order, why go to the judge?) or whether they had 3,000 active bugs for investigations so flimsy that they couldn't find a judge to sign...

    The former wouldn't be good, but would be unsurprising and fairly banal. Doing paperwork when you don't have to is a fairly rare psychological disorder, after all. The latter, on the other hand, would be 'uncomfortably retro' behavior on the FBI's part, hearkening back to their historically loose adherence to petty matters of law and due process.
  • Re:3,000? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:40PM (#39164437) Journal

    "The Supreme Court's recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a 'sea change' inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann.

    Or, Mr. Weissmann, you and the FBI could have just picked up a copy of the Constitution. Even a cursory reading of the 4th Amendment would have told the FBI that affixing a GPS device to someone's vehicle without even the nicety of having paid a judge a visit was eventually going to get the lot of you in a legal pickle and likely mean the Supreme Court would toss it out.

    I recommend the FBI get a copy of the Constitution. It's available at your local library, at many bookstores. Hell, there's got to be a hundred thousand websites out there that have the full text.

  • by QA ( 146189 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @12:46PM (#39164475)

    I recently set up an entire GPS platform for our fleet at work. Security was an issue so I purchased the platform and run it in house on a server I built. Currently have 200 assets, but the platform will handle 5000.

    They are probably using a device similar to an Enfora modem. These are cellular only, and fairly basic, although they can be configured to reports certain parameters such as ignition on, motion detection, geofencing, etc.

    At the other end of the scale you can have a dual band device like the i50B which is Iridium satellite and cellular. The satellite kicks in depending on threshold setting for cellular signal strength. Of course there are MANY similar devices that run on different satellite networks (Global sat etc).
    Reporting can be from every 30 seconds to once per day.

    The devices are hard wired and use very little juice. You would never notice them. Both the devices mentioned are slightly larger than a pack of smokes and need power and ground. For the best reception an antenna is required, but that is also very easy to hide. Installation would be less than 30 minutes.
    Interestingly, jammers are becoming a real problem. You can purchase them online, they only block the GPS frequency, and plug in to your cigarette lighter. Think Taxi cab drivers and truckers.

  • Re:Mine now! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:10PM (#39164683)
    Maybe if they put a bounty on them, $50 dollars no questions asked, or $500 if it's still in working condition.

    Hmmm, maybe the working condition bounty should be higher, I know a lot of people that would think $450 they don't yet have is a small price for showing scum exactly what they think of them. Remember, not only is this an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, it is also a declaration of war by the instigator (personal war, not literal war), and an insinuation that you are a vile criminal. Let's just say people don't like being insulted like that and without a large cash mollification, your expensive tracking toy will quickly become random junk.
  • by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @01:44PM (#39164997)
    Which then in turn raises a serious question - we've seen hackers prosecuted and jailed for their activities, but what kind of punishment can we expect for those responsible for the violation of Jones's Fourth Amendment rights? My money is on "none". The SCOTUS ruling doesn't mean anything at all without some kind of consequences for those responsible, as there's nothing to keep the guilty parties from willfully doing it again. And I'm not talking about some stupid fine or something that means nothing to the individual agents that made the decision to violate his civil rights. I'm talking about jail time for those who placed the devices, and their supervisors who signed off on it.
  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @02:21PM (#39165289) Homepage Journal

    That's actually a good response.

    If the FBI showed up on my door and asked for their tracking device back, I'd say, "I don't know who you are, whether you own it, or whether you have a legal right to get it. Send me a letter giving me all the details and establishing that you own it, and I'll take it to a lawyer and do what he says."

    Suppose an hour later another bunch of guys showed up and said that they were the FBI and they wanted their tracking device back?

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.