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GPS trackers are remarkably small and easy to plant on cars. They allow police and other entities to watch citizens wherever they go.  (Source: www.spygadgets.com)
While their tactics may be illegal, police in Washington and elsewhere turn to GPS planting to catch crooks

It's the classic story -- a cop using unorthodox techniques, working outside the law to capture crooks.  However, this cop story has a twist -- some unsavory privacy implications that may make some citizens uncomfortable.

The controversy stems from a growing police tactic to plant GPS tracking units on suspects’ cars without warrants.  John Wesley Hall, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers states, "I've seen them in cases from New York City to small towns -- whoever can afford to get the equipment and plant it on a car.  And of course, it's easy to do. You can sneak up on a car and plant it at any time."

Privacy advocates are shocked.  They say that by monitoring the movements of people, many of which are likely innocent, police departments across the country are committing a Big Brother-esque invasion of privacy.  And one state Supreme Court is on their side.  The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that a warrant must be obtained to justify such invasions of privacy.

However, other state supreme courts -- including New York, Wisconsin and Maryland, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago -- have declared that warrants are not needed.

Police praise the practice, saying it has helped them crack tough cases.  They point to cases such as the string of rapes in Fairfax, which were solved when a GPS tracker led cops to convicted rapist David Lee Foltz Jr.  Officer Shelley Broderick, a Fairfax police spokeswoman cautiously praised the device, stating, "We don't really want to give any info on how we use it as an investigative tool to help the bad guys.  It is an investigative tool for us, and it is a very new investigative tool."

They are not alone.  Many other departments have found success using the device to track suspected thieves, drug dealers, sexual predators and killers.  Privacy advocates say we're losing Constitutional protections for minimal gains, though.  They say the practice constitutes illegal search and seizure and thus violates the fourth amendment.  Police disagree, saying that the devices are just a high tech equivalent of a police tail which costs less and is more accurate.  Usually they're relatively quiet about the practice, though.

Cpl. Clinton Copeland, a Prince George's County police spokesman in Washington acknowledges the practice was used by his department.  He states, "But I don't think that's something [detectives] would be too happy to put out there like that.  They do have different techniques they like to use on suspects, but they don't really want people to know."

However, the devices are gaining attention as police use them in major cases, such New York methamphetamine tracking case or a Wisconsin burglary case.  The devices are gaining attention because suspects’ lawyers are challenging the processes' legality.  Freedom of Information Requests indicate many departments claiming not to use the devices, but many refusing to respond, as well.

Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and liberty program says that GPS monitoring is part of a nationwide trend towards "an always-on, surveillance society."

The debate over continuous monitoring, be it new facial scanning being deployed on highways, or GPS units planted by the police, is a tricky one.  As electronics find more and more presence in our lives, it becomes easier and easier for someone to watch your actions at all times. 



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fascist's wet dream
By NeoConned08 on 8/14/2008 12:05:11 PM , Rating: 5
Are you people so shortsighted that you can't see the implications of this down the road??? This is a precursor to a police state. Anyone that is OK with this is completely off their rocker imo. I don't care how you try to slice it. This is in direct contradiction to everything this nation was founded upon. The government was to be limited and sure as HELL wasn't supposed to be GPS'ing people without a warrant.

Those that would give up liberty for a little safety deserve neither and lose both. Just ask Eliot Spitzer how he likes the provisions of the Patriot Act that were used to ruin him politically and personally.....and he's not even a terrorist....just a guy that was speaking out against the current folks in power.

You aren't doing anything wrong so you have nothing to worry about.....but what if you don't agree with something the government is doing and are letting your opinion be heard....just like Eliot Spitzer was doing. To say that this stuff would never be used against someone for political reasons is idiocy, as it already HAS.

You people that advocate such things deserve every single thing you have coming for partaking in the destruction of liberty and freedom. It is because of people like you why our nation will crumble and fall into tyranny.




RE: fascist's wet dream
By ArcticNight on 8/14/08, Rating: 0
RE: fascist's wet dream
By JustTom on 8/21/2008 2:39:47 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with much you said. However, Spitzer hardly was an underdog fighting the good fight. He was a proto-facist using his power and influence to gather more power.


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