My knowledge of the case is limited to Register coverage. I re-read it, along with the brief. The story states Jones and 4 others are indicted, as in not convicted. Perhaps you are more up to date?
So 1 (of several) questions would be how much of the "probable cause" is due to the information collected from this. If they had probable cause already a warrant would avoid getting bogged down in this argument. If the tracking records are the bulk of the evidence have they just buried the judge in a paper blizzard("This man's records cover 3100+pages of movement over a month. He' clearly up to something!)
Or rather his car is. That is what is being tracked. And arrangements exist for getting a warrant(according to the brief) to cover fitting a "beeper". I would have guessed its nearest equivalent would be the telephone "Pen register" trace of dialled phone numbers and their duration. interesting info, establishes patterns but not actual proof and presumably available with a lower standard of 'cause.
@AC “It wouldn't have been difficult to get a court warrant for the tracking”
It certainly looks that way
The point is putting on a GPS tracker (not a bleeper) and not going for a warrant is a a near zero cost option for the FBI. Its *very* cheap. If they go to trial and their prosecutors can con-vince the jury that where his car is is virtually the same as where he is and that is where drugs were sold he's as good as convicted. Drinks all round. Job done.
So why bother with warranted surveillance and showing 'cause on the next case either?
Work up a decent conviction rate with this evidence and said prosecutor gets to write a memo explaining how they get such good results at so little cost to the taxpayer. Its not ruthlessly efficient it is merely efficient. The ruthlessness is simply a free by product.
Some L&O Con-gress person sees these bang up results and thinks we have mandatory GPS on mobile phones, why not put them on cars as well. Juries will understand its only an indication of where the felon is. But the authorities will need a PIN code to switch it on otherwise we'll swamp the mobile phone network, and reception is bad enough in some cities already.
Later L&O Con-gress person2 needs to make a name for themselves. This sending a PIN code to a server is *too* slow. Seconds count. Lets have all vehicles report all the time on a special network and if one is stolen or used in a crime we'll know instantly (or within 10 secs) where it is.
This technology is qualitatively different from the beepers of old. It enables *mass* dragnet surveillance. The background to the Jones case suggests officers who did not have to get a warrant, so they did not bother. That sounds pretty lazy. Ironic as they had to get the kit and presumably as its the FBI the drug supply they are talking about is fair sized. They should have expected him to hire a decent (expensive) lawyer.
Sorry to disappoint you but the whole dark suited Ivy League types (with a chain smoking henchman) around a darkened board room table plotting the snuffing out of any freedom of movement or association isn't my view of the world. Very sinister. Very dramatic. But complete BS IRL.
Just lazy cops who can't be bothered to cross t's and dot i's with a new toy, backed up by ambitious prosecutors and ending with some self serving politicians who want "justice" on the cheap.
Most of them aren't actually bad people and don't see their behaviour as wrong. No lobbyist bribes. No blackmail by shadowy groups with an agenda. Just people being people.
A basic knowledge of human nature and how it can interact with technology and economics should make anyone concerned at the possibilities.
If you don't have that then most of this has been rather boring to you. Otherwise perhaps you are powerful enough to ignore such concerns and we are all merely "little people" to you? How nice for you. Or perhaps you are deeply trusting and believe nothing bad can happen to you.
If the latter I hope your lucky.