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back to article US appeals court bashes warrantless GPS tracking

A federal appeals court has roundly rejected US government claims that it doesn't need a search warrant to surveil suspects using global positioning system location-tracking devices. In a decision released Friday, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously ruled that FBI agents …

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Grenade

A tough bug correct decision.

As much as I hate the thought of dirt-bags getting away with it, this was the right decision. We are already highly monitored and the thought of the state being able to track anybody for any reason without any notification is pretty scary stuff.

As citizens of the 'free' world we have to watch those in power to make sure we are not toads being boiled a degree at a time and all that stuff.

My main concern in the UK is the Euro... think about this... if we *do* go into the Euro at some point, then one day, surely the state will say 'hang on', it's cheaper if we do away with money and we'll issue everybody a transaction card instead... there goes the beautiful anonymity of cold hard cash. You wouldn't be able to buy anything without that transaction being recorded. On the assumption that only you can use the card, you are now being tracked 24x7.

Long live cash.

Or, let's find a way to live without it altogether. It fucks up the world no end that's for sure. If money went away tomorrow, I ask you people, would everything become worthless or priceless ?

PS: First!

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Silver badge
Badgers

OMG?

Zounds! How old are you?

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Anonymous Coward

Non sequitur

Off-topic, but for the record, you have made no logical connection between the adoption of the Euro and the move to card-based currency. Such a move is equally likely, or equally unlikely, if we keep the pound. I have no particular £/€ axe to grind but can't help thinking that this sort of random speculation does little to assist a rational debate on the subject.

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Grenade

Only a matter of time til it goes to the Supremes...

...whereupon, seeing as how the appeals court made a fairly level-headed decision, the decision will be summarily rejected with little, if any, explanation, thus allowing a further expansion of the government's all ready dubious-in-necessity powers of surveillance and secrecy.

Kafka gets more real every day. The appeals court rules that the FBI needs a judge's signature to track somebody via GPS, congress passes a law creating a secret court of judges that automatically sign off on any warrant handed to them. Don't believe me? Happened all ready - FISA in '78 and its expansion of power in the mid-80s.

This ruling is a victory, but a hollow one. The fact that the judiciary believe that they have any power whatsoever is laughable at best and dangerously naive at worst.

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(untitled)

"Police cruisers in Los Angeles, for example, are outfitted with air guns that can shoot GPS-enabled darts at passing cars, the amicus curiae brief claimed."

While I don't know the exact details of how this system works, I believe the point is to reduce the need for high speed chases - just tag the car and hem them in. I think the real difference here is that these devices do not (or should not) attempt to do this inconspicuously, nor are they intended to track someone for an extended period of time. The type of GPS tracker used by the FBI in the Jones case, however, is explicitly a long-term, circumspect device - in laymen's term, a type of bug.

-d

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Happy

Since 2007 they have had a couple of high tech vehicles ...

for deployment in high crime areas.

The FBI/DEA device is described here: < http://www.spyzone.com/index.php?app=ccp0&ns=prodshow&ref=gpsrecorder&sid=t5nd57eu6f6p864joe3bw66s5sp29ts1 >.

The hardest part is concealing the device under a layer of grease, dirt or paint. Most any person familiar with a vehicle can locate these things with the use of a vehicle hoist and bright light.

Of course a GPS jammer, easily constructed to emit a carrier at L1 (1575.42 Mhz) and L2 (1227.60 MHz) will defeat these devices. Google provides numerous low cost schematics for those interested in their very own low power GPS station that should be mounted under your vehicle.

Fortunately with government budgets coming under extreme constraints police budgets can no longer afford these goodies. In fact a Colorado has just sold off it's police helicopters so Big Brother has taken another hit.

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High Speed Chase...

...or GPS dart launcher?

There's a place for everything. If this spreads across the pond, 007 could be wasting time getting warrants, etc.

In most places a car tracker would be unnecessary, just root his GPS cell phone (once the proper warrent is in place, of course.)

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Flame

Who was driving?

"High Speed Chase... #

..or GPS dart launcher?"

No points.

You may track the vehicle but you don't know who was driving, almost useless information. Unless you got that way that the owner of the vehicle is guilty by default. Which is actually even worse.

So it has nothing to do with chases and everything to do with tracking _unsuspecting_ citizens.

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Big Brother

GPS trackers

Garbage! Totally worthless. What they really need is a way to track the car, covertly listen in on any conversation going on inside the car as well as be able to remotely disable it. Now then, all we need to do is get the suspects to take a free subscription to OnStar.

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Big Brother

And this...

is why I absolutely refuse to gen a vehicle equipped for OnStar. Every ad they run just increases my determination. What amazes me is how many people think it's a great idea for their cars to be bugged tracked, and remotely disabled.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

On Star

Or have the Feds turn the mic on in the car cab without you knowing it. Reportedly, that has already occurred.

Like you, I will not buy a vehicle with On Star, or, considering my rabid dislike of all things Micro$oft, vehicles with Sync.

AFAIC, the politicians eventually want us all to get RFID tagged if they could get away with it.

OK, MR Politician, you want me chipped, YOU FIRST!!!

Remember: BOHICA, and believe me, it's gonna hurt!!!!!

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Pint

Given that GPS tracking is akin to cell tracking ...

could this new ruling be applied to the tracking, without warrant, on the cell identity numbers in which a handset of interest is located?

One good thing about the U.S. is that at least the judges look out for the public whereas in other jurisdictions the judges acquiesce to the extremes imposed by politicians aided and and abetted by wimpy citizenry.

It also looks like the bulldog has vacated Britain, too.

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Paris Hilton

Agree with post #1

Any thing any police force does has to have official sanction in my opinion.

That's to say doing it without sanction is a breach of protocol - same with tracking card purchases, mobo locating, ...

Power, authority, rights and responsibilities and all that.

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Big Brother

Wrong!

"That's to say doing it without sanction is a breach of protocol"

Doing 'it' without offical sanction_OF THE COURTS_ should be ILLEGAL not just 'a breach of protocol.'

Jail the bastards.

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Stop

And trespassing, too?

"FBI agents secretly planted the device on his Jeep Cherokee while it was parked on private property." So did they have a warrant to be on that private property or were they trespassing as well?

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Gold badge
Thumb Up

Police work should *only* be easy in a polic state.

When you think about this ruling from that perspective the answer should be obvious.

Essentially the FBI did it because they could.

It was less trouble. Less hassle. Less (no) due cause needed.

*Very* slowly the judiciary is waking up to the face *where* you are is a privacy issue as much as what you are doing.

Thumbs up. Unpopular (in this *context*) but there are *many* contexts. But this one *will* run.

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Gold badge

Good decision

This is certainly a correct decision, it is vitally important to avoid a police state for there to be SOME kind of paper trail and accountability for tracking, surveillance, searches, and so on.

What I found ridiculous was a case where someone FOUND the tracking device on the car, took it off and put it up on EBay, the police then complained "Oh but it's so expensive, that's police property" and (tried at least) to toss him in jail for it. All I can say is, if someone sticks something to my car it's finders keepers 8-).

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mt1

right decision

The whole point of a warrant is to prove there are reasonable circumstances to investigate further

In not sure if the issue here was that the gps was placed on a car on provuate property?

If the gps had been placed on public property say in a public car part would that be ok?

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Anonymous Coward

Idle plods

Why didn't they use the GPS to trail him at distance and then an agent could have been on hand to witness him at the locations of interest.

"Subject seen leaving address of known criminal" must have more weight than "subject's vehicle was parked outside known criminal's house"

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GPS could be used better!

Why didn't they just give him a ticket for /each time/ he exceeded the posted limit, that would have been way more fun and profitable.

It just occurs to me that most GPS isn't all that well secured - if someone were to lob a smallish sat into LEO (high-ish inclination, but there's probably no need for a polar orbit,) you could spoof a whole load of gps broadcasts, across the whole band. You don't need enough signal power to jam the existing GPS sats, just enough to add some extra broadcasts that look authentic in a region a couple of hundred of square miles. Then as your sat orbits, you confuse the hell out of random devices for a couple minutes (if you could stretch your power to get half an hour, that'd work nicely) every day or two.

The only response would be the tricky (politically) destruction of your sat, or just dealing without GPS for a while.

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