Print 77 comment(s) - last by JustTom.. on Aug 21 at 2:39 PM

GPS trackers are remarkably small and easy to plant on cars. They allow police and other entities to watch citizens wherever they go.  (Source:
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. 

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Vice Versa
By pauldovi on 8/14/2008 10:46:32 AM , Rating: 5
I wonder how the police would feel if I stuck a GPS on all of their cruisers. I could easily avoid traffic violations that way, among other things.

If it is legal for the cops to do to regular Joe's, why can't regular Joe do it to the cops?

RE: Vice Versa
By rcc on 8/14/2008 10:56:25 AM , Rating: 5
I wonder how the police would feel if I stuck a GPS on all of their cruisers.

Many police departments have GPS tracking on their patrol vehicles. Some object, some don't. In Mexico City, there was a high incidence of antenna breakage, and a few covered by aluminum foil. : )

I have no problem with people being tracked on the job. Off the job, hmmmm, jury is still out.

RE: Vice Versa
By Grast on 8/14/2008 12:36:23 PM , Rating: 2
I worked for a sheriff's agency in which gps was installed on every car. It is use for public and officer safety. While some of the officer's did not like their car location blinking on a big map in the dispatch office, it came in handy when they needed help and did not have the ability to radio such as when fighting with a suspect.

Your comment is a moot point as most agencies which have the money are moving to gps for all patrol cars. It makes since for safty of the officer, better use of their time, and most importantly faster response.

Whether you believe it or not, police are reactive agency no proactive. The police do not have the ability to prevent crimes. They simply have the ability to react and find the people which have already comitted a crime and put in jail.


RE: Vice Versa
By ksherman on 8/14/2008 1:09:55 PM , Rating: 2
I think what he wants is the ability, as an average citizen, to know where all the police cars are at a given moment. Next gen Radar detectors :)

RE: Vice Versa
By Laughing all the way 2220 on 8/14/2008 6:01:28 PM , Rating: 2
If it is such a valuable tool for the police (and many agree it is), then why don't they go through the process of obtaining a warrant? It's not that difficult. All it takes is conducting a PROPER investigation.
What they are doing now is either being lazy or they've come to a dead end. Using the device in either case is ILLEGAL! What these agencies want is to close the case in the fastest way possible no matter what and that is unethical. What law enforcement does not need is to have it's character questioned. If it's a case where life or death is imminent, the officer should be aware that there will probably be a reprimand and there should be a process in place to review that. Below is the process to obtain a warrant.

"Under normal circumstances a search warrant cannot be obtained unless the request for it is supported by facts, supplied under oath from a law enforcement officer, that are sufficient to convince the court that a crime has been or is being committed."
"To show probable cause, the police usually provide the judge or magistrate with information in the form of written affidavits, which report either their own observations or those of private citizens or police undercover informants. If the magistrate believes that the information is sufficient to establish probable cause to conduct a search, he or she will issue a warrant. Though the suspect is not present when the warrant is issued and therefore cannot contest its issuance, he can later challenge the validity of the warrant before trial."
-Introduction to Criminal Justice By Larry J. Siegel, Joseph J. Senna

RE: Vice Versa
By TOAOCyrus on 8/14/2008 10:04:54 PM , Rating: 2
The thing it hasn't been determined if if this is illegal or not. Police have the right to conduct surveillance without a warrant (that doesn't include wiretapping) and you could argue that this is just a more effective way of doing it.

RE: Vice Versa
By Targon on 8/15/2008 9:33:42 AM , Rating: 2
There is a basic concept of probable cause needed before conducting such practices though. Now, what constitutes probable cause, just looking funny, having a speech problem, being handicapped or of a certain gender/race? This has always been the issue with these sorts of things.

Now, just looking only involves the time of the police officer. The moment a tool is needed to aid in an investigation, a warrant SHOULD be required. Tapping the phone lines is the perfect example of this, as does the use of advanced microphones or other pieces of equipment.

There is a basic concept that if you look for something wrong, and just wait, something WILL show up, no matter how minor it may be. This includes things like people not following the rules of recycling or making a right on red when there is a sign that says no right on red(the sign may not be in a good location so may be missed in some cases). The police would suffer just as much from these sorts of things if THEY were monitored the way they feel they should be monitoring other people.

If the police want to be able to do this sort of thing when they feel like it, they should be required to call it in first, so there is a paper trail saying why they are doing something. In that way, patterns of abuse can also be caught. It is NEVER a good idea to allow this sort of behavior without some sort of oversight.

RE: Vice Versa
By daar on 8/15/2008 11:53:51 AM , Rating: 2
They don't go through with the warrants because it takes time to process and is especially a hassle in areas with a large drug dealer base. I personally wouldn't mind if they suspected me of such things and placed a tracker in my car.

So long as it's not a video camera where they can see me scratching my crotch or wearing high heels. Cuz that's personal.

RE: Vice Versa
By rollakid on 8/14/2008 8:17:05 PM , Rating: 3
I want one of those blinking maps thingy in my car :D

RE: Vice Versa
By PrezWeezy on 8/14/2008 1:10:18 PM , Rating: 5
I was thinking the exact same thing. It'd be really nice to be able to look at my map and decide to not take one street or another.

I think we have a major issue in this society where people are afraid of police. I think a large ammount of people have, because of this, lost their respect for law enforcement. Every time I see a cop run a red light or go speeding down the street, or they pull up to an intersection and don't want to wait for a light so they flip on the siren and turn it off on the other side; I just think how nice it would be to give them a ticket. It's a horrible thing to think but if you are going to enforce, you should first exemplify. If you can't do that you shouldn't be allowed to wear a badge. And consequently, I find myself disliking cops who, I'm sure for the most part, are great people and just trying to do their job. This is one more step on a slippery slope to causing people to feel the need to rebel against police. Should it get out of hand I fear more police will end up getting hurt just because of the actions of a few irresponsible officers.

RE: Vice Versa
By walk2k on 8/14/2008 1:27:19 PM , Rating: 3
You can always fight back with the most powerful weapon ever invented - the video camera:

RE: Vice Versa
By Blight AC on 8/14/2008 2:46:17 PM , Rating: 3
Do be aware, that sometimes the police do need to approach a crime scene quickly and silently in order to get a jump on a suspect. For example, an intrusion alarm. If the cop comes blaring his sirens down the street, it's likely the suspect will be alerted to police presence and be able to avoid detection.

However, I do agree with some of your sentiment, I've seen enough cops not use blinkers, and speed down streets without at least using their flashing lights warning motorists and pedestrians of the danger.

RE: Vice Versa
By encryptkeeper on 8/14/2008 3:51:35 PM , Rating: 2
It's a horrible thing to think but if you are going to enforce, you should first exemplify.

I don't find that to be horrible at all. What's horrible is we've slipped back to thinking "the ends justify the means" in the U.S. Inspecting laptops and iPods at international borders has yielded a few busts for people holding child porn: at the cost of civil liberties and privacy for an untold number of innocent civilians. Phone companies are required to give up records of phone activity, again at the expense of privacy for the average person. The government can wiretap phone lines without warrants. They want to be able to tell women what they can and can't do with their bodies. What's next? Censorship of the press? It's all so our country is "safer". I feel less safe than I did 7 years ago, and so should everyone else.

RE: Vice Versa
By wordsworm on 8/17/2008 3:58:22 AM , Rating: 2
A policeman's job is to find as many people as they can to put in jail. Don't ever trust a policeman. Never even talk to them. Don't let them into your house or inspect your car. If they ask you a question, don't answer. Call your lawyer. Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, whereas everything that you do say that could be used in your defense is 'hearsay'.

It's shocking, but 1/4 people are in jail for making confessions to crimes that they never committed because of police tactics. Don't believe me? Check this out:

There are also a few videos that teach you how to deal with police. Police are not your friends. They get paid for convicting people, not for setting them free.

Keep in mind, that despite the belief that you're innocent until proven guilty, most juries figure that you're guilty until proven innocent, and it's the jury's opinion that matters.

RE: Vice Versa
By eldakka on 8/18/2008 2:36:15 AM , Rating: 2
A policeman's job is to find as many people as they can to put in jail. Don't ever trust a policeman. Never even talk to them. Don't let them into your house or inspect your car. If they ask you a question, don't answer. Call your lawyer.

I agree completely.

I once tried to be 'helpful' to some police enquiries and ended up before a magistrate for something I didn't do (I had a housemate at the time...).

The case was dismissed (the magistrate didn't even have to deliberate, she dismissed it without retiring to consider), but it still cost me 1 year of unemployment (in a $100k+ job) as well as $25k in legal fees (and that's after receiving $10k from the state towards legal fees).

RE: Vice Versa
By rippleyaliens on 8/14/08, Rating: -1
RE: Vice Versa
By UatuTheWatcher on 8/14/2008 2:44:07 PM , Rating: 2
My problem is that nobody with the incredible power and responsibility that police have should operate without a balance. Warrants are tangible, and require justification to be issued.

This is the same as why your company has security policies preventing any employee who wants to from entering the NOC or from accessing customer payment card information. The large majority of employees are trustworthy, but security and culpability still need to be in place.

While I believe the vast majority of officers are good people doing the best they can, there's always the exception:

RE: Vice Versa
By BadAcid on 8/14/2008 3:31:31 PM , Rating: 2
What if a cop was able to track a kid, abduct a kid, molest the kid, and kill the kid, all because he stalked it with a GPS tracking device placed unconstitutionally, and was able to catch the kid when he/she was alone? Police are people, too. There's good ones and evil ones just as there is with any population.

My cell phone is turned off 6 days of the week, and only on for 4 hours on saturday or sunday. None of my cars have GPS tracking devices, I know how to read a map, thanks. That's MY CHOICE to not be reachable by an automated system. What the cops are doing here is taking away that CHOICE, that FREEDOM.

RE: Vice Versa
By CSMR on 8/14/2008 4:01:34 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder how policemen would feel if regular Joe's started arresting them. I wonder how judges and juries would feel if defendants started convicting and sentencing them. I wonder how my boss would feel if I sacked him tomorrow.

RE: Vice Versa
By phxfreddy on 8/14/2008 5:06:59 PM , Rating: 2
...... they do not let US see the data of where the cop car is......

RE: Vice Versa
By Pwnt Soup on 8/15/2008 10:03:38 AM , Rating: 2
try this on for size, since most police cars have radio and or somekind of cell phone or data link back too the station house, couldent a system of tracking be worked out using existing means? or if they have GPS instaled how hard would it be too scan the comunication between car and station too set up a tracking device or service? if they want too see my location at all times, sure would be nice too know where they are too... after all whats good for the goose...

RE: Vice Versa
By JustTom on 8/21/2008 2:36:21 PM , Rating: 2
While I am very unsure that police should be allowed to place tracking GPS units without warrants the thought that locations of police patrol units being publicly available in real time is ludicrous. That is what I want: the neighborhood burglar knowing the closest cop is a 15 minute drive from my house.

Not impressed
By Elementalism on 8/14/2008 12:00:11 PM , Rating: 5
Placing an object without my permission on my private property? What next, they stick microphones on your windows and inside your house without a warrant?

It would be funny if some cop did this and the person knew about then traveled to the cops wife's work over and over to give the impression he is banging the guys wife.

RE: Not impressed
By Creig on 8/14/2008 12:09:37 PM , Rating: 5
Go for it. Personally, I wouldn't want someone who wears a gun all day long thinking I'm banging his wife. But that's just me.

RE: Not impressed
By Jimbo1234 on 8/14/2008 2:22:57 PM , Rating: 2
That reminds me of True Lies. Good stuff.

GPS Finder
By AlvinCool on 8/14/2008 11:08:10 AM , Rating: 2
I realize that a GPS receives rather than broadcasts, but how long will it be before someone develops a GPS "finder" specifically to locate a GPS stuck to your car. Then a suspect could drive a totally different pattern till he knew the GPS was removed. If he was taken to court couldn't he have his lawyer ask if any GPS tracking information had been collected and they would have to allow it's use in court?

Almost anything can be a double edged sword

RE: GPS Finder
By bigjaicher on 8/14/2008 11:13:16 AM , Rating: 5
These ones have to tell the cops where it is so it will be doing more than receiving, mate.

RE: GPS Finder
By AlvinCool on 8/14/2008 11:52:47 AM , Rating: 2
These ones have to tell the cops where it is so it will be doing more than receiving, mate.

Maybe, but I thought it gathered information and didn't actually transmit. Then later they came and removed the device then logged everywhere the car went along with times. Like a black box type deal

RE: GPS Finder
By mindless1 on 8/15/2008 5:24:32 PM , Rating: 2
A GPS Tracker could send out a signal that others use to track the location of the device. It could instead just log where the device has been, but why would they settle for the latter if they can have the former?

Cell Phones
By 325hhee on 8/14/2008 11:34:41 AM , Rating: 2
I see no problem with placing a GPS on a suspect vehicle, by law there has to be a reason for any law enforcer to trace someone. Whether it's by physical man power or electronic.

Advocacy groups really gets under my skin every now and then, it's not like the Cops are throwing GPS on joe schmoe, and there's no point to trail joe average, unless he's up to something.

Now, if the Govt is activating GPS on cell phones without a warrant, ok, then there is a problem with that. That's going through many loop holes to get to. With the GPS, you have to have someone physically go up to the suspect vehicle, and plant the device. Where as cell phones, if, you can do it remotely, and that's abuse of the law, since it goes nationally. It can be done, and it has been done, that's how some terrorists were caught, but again, they warranted a reason to have their cell phone GPS activated. And yes they did need a warrant for that. That I'm ok with. But really, no need for a local gps tracking.

RE: Cell Phones
By Elementalism on 8/14/2008 11:58:24 AM , Rating: 2
Why is it ok to plant a gps tracking device on a car and use it but not on a cell phone? Both are relaying the same message about an objects travels.

RE: Cell Phones
By Jator on 8/14/2008 11:59:53 AM , Rating: 5
When people start getting speeding tickets because the GPS indicates you were doing 75 in a 55 mph zone, don't cry foul.

Yes, it sounds reasonable to track suspected sex predetors, drug trafficers, etc. But if it's deemed to be "permissable" to do this for those, it's only a matter of time before it would be expanded to misdemenours and other such issues. This sounds like a slippery slope to me.

RE: Cell Phones
By othercents on 8/14/2008 12:53:56 PM , Rating: 2
When people start getting speeding tickets because the GPS indicates you were doing 75 in a 55 mph zone, don't cry foul.

I would love to see this report. For 2 miles you were doing 75mph and just after that you did 30mph followed by going 120mph then only 2mph. How do you explain your erratic driving behavior?


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.

Hmm... I think I understand
By TheSpaniard on 8/14/2008 10:42:52 AM , Rating: 2
So the reason why they can put a GPS tracker on your car is because driving is a privilege? Even though the gross underfunding of public transit makes going to work impossible for many people?

RE: Hmm... I think I understand
By Noliving on 8/14/2008 10:45:22 AM , Rating: 2
Where does it say they say driving is a privilege? And yes it is a privilege considering you can have your license taken away for breaking certain laws.

RE: Hmm... I think I understand
By TheSpaniard on 8/15/2008 9:06:46 PM , Rating: 2
in the US driving is considered a privilege. that's the reason they use to all sorts of things like require safety standards and revoke licenses.

Fine 'till It's You Right?
By NaughtyGeek on 8/14/2008 12:07:33 PM , Rating: 2
I cannot see the value of this beyond creating circumstantial evidence that will condemn someone merely because they happen to transgress through areas that "bad guys" do as well. This kind of activity is a travesty. If an officer of the law can't put an eye on you to verify your presence, then the device should have zero credibility. But of course this kind of device will become a technological tool that can not be disputed. Such is the way our "moral" brothers and sisters want it. Anything to make the nitwits feel "safe."

RE: Fine 'till It's You Right?
By Icelight on 8/14/2008 1:20:08 PM , Rating: 2
It's like that with everything. Look at piracy. Tons of people feel that applications, games, etc. should be all available for free; it's only digital content!!

But ask them again when they're trying to make a living off of spending their time creating digital content and I bet they'd have a much different answer.

This is wrong. Warrant is necessary.
By ThePooBurner on 8/14/2008 3:28:27 PM , Rating: 2
I do not approve. I think a warrant should be necessary. The article mentions some Police feel it is no different than a police tailing a suspect, but i think there is a difference here. You can have a detective listen from a distance with a good mic, or you can tap the phone. One is eaves dropping, the other is not and requires a warrant (both may need a warrant now that i think about it. i don't know. Someone feel free to correct me). I think the same logic should apply to GPS trackers. See, there is always a chance that a tail could be lost, just as the person could turn around and you loose bits of the conversation when listening with a long distance mic, whereas the GPS cannot be lost and the Tap can't be avoided if it isn't known about. As such i feel that the use should require a warrent. The moment we give anyone a free ticket to take away our personal liberties for no reason what so ever is the moment we consign ourselves to slavery and doom our childrens future.

By CSMR on 8/14/2008 4:04:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yes they should require warrants if that's the law. At the same time warrants should be easy to get, it should be just a phone call to an appropriate department of the police service; otherwise you might miss vital information.

Sneak up on the car?!
By BeauP on 8/14/2008 3:27:02 PM , Rating: 3
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."

Do you sneak up on a car because they are skittish?

I wonder
By othercents on 8/14/2008 11:20:12 AM , Rating: 2
What is the battery life of one of those trackers? While in use it might only have a 24 hour battery life. Does the police have access to other GPS trackers (cell phones, LoJack, etc.)?

Maybe we are already being tracked because all this technology around us.


It can't happen here!
By JohnnyCNote on 8/14/2008 1:00:50 PM , Rating: 2
I've found over the years that the ones who support these kinds of things are those who think they'll never be a victim of them. When it does happen to them they tend to change their tune.

For those doubters around here, look up COINTELPRO. There is a wealth of information about government infringements on constitutional rights. You can chose to ignore it and continue to live in blissful ignorance, or take a little time to educate yourselves about the realities of the post September 11th world. Every time another right is taken away is a victory for terrorists. Keep up the good work!

Speaking of history, you may want to check this out:

Goering: Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

It reeks
By mindless1 on 8/14/2008 2:33:22 PM , Rating: 2
Get a warrant or stay the hell away from my car. Can't get a warrant? Then you don't have a reasonable excuse. There is a reason why we have laws, people can't just selectively break them to suit their goals regardless of whether that person happens to have good intents, regardless of whether that person is a police officer unless there is an actual crime being committed at that moment.

On the other hand if I'm wearing a mask, coming out of a bank and the alarm is going off, go ahead and lob a GPS tracker onto the side of the car since I'm obviously trying to get away. Otherwise, no immediate crime means no breaking the laws to track citizens.

Not a good idea
By tech329 on 8/14/2008 3:00:38 PM , Rating: 2
Without control by the courts this is sure to be abused. Common sense and human nature state that as an absolute.

By kellytech1 on 8/14/2008 3:00:40 PM , Rating: 2
This whole discussion reminds me of a poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Police State
By sebastian35 on 8/14/2008 3:38:41 PM , Rating: 2
I'm all for tracking the freaks that wish to touch children impurely. All for catching that criminal wrecking property. The taxes I pay are for that purpose. What's the difficulty in obtaining a warrant for these actions? If a GPS transceiver were affixed to MY vehicle simply because it LOOKED like a vehicle that was involved in a crime, I have a problem when NO warrant was issued.

If I find one...
By foolsgambit11 on 8/14/2008 4:05:53 PM , Rating: 2
Do I get to keep it? Finders keepers, right?

Invading the right peoples' privacy...
By domg on 8/16/2008 8:29:49 PM , Rating: 1
Guys and gals, this is not a new concept. PD's and other government-level LE agencies have been using this tech for years. There are a few things you should keep in mind before black-flagging this as another big-brother technology.

1) It takes serious resources to use these correctly. Officers typically rent or borrow a vehicle identical to the one they want to track prior to installing the device to find the exact location ideal for mounting the device. They then have to watch the vehicle very closely and wait for the perfect time to plant it.

2) They are expensive enough to limit any state- or local-level agency to owning just a few. With these you also need to purchase proprietary software and generally dedicate at least one laptop with mobile broadband for tracking the vehicle. This means serious outlay of funds, and if you're familiar with law enforcement, the money doesn't typically go towards specialty stuff like this.

3) Considering the previous two points, you should realize that these are not used to track the "everyday offender." Worrying about invasion of privacy because of this tech is like a virgin worrying about getting HIV...unless you've repetitively put yourself at major risk (via criminal activity in this case) then dedicating brain power to worrying is a needless waste of energy.

This is a great example of the technology being used in law enforcement that has done nothing but good so far. I sincerely hope that the left-wingers don't intervene and shift the balance of power further into the criminals' hands.

If your not guilty....
By Tegrat on 8/14/08, Rating: -1
RE: If your not guilty....
By DigitalFreak on 8/14/2008 6:19:57 PM , Rating: 2
It's assholes like you that let stuff like this happen. I can't wait till the day you get busted for something you didn't do. We'll see your attitude then.

You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By Noliving on 8/14/08, Rating: -1
RE: You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By othercents on 8/14/2008 11:00:19 AM , Rating: 5
I don't see what the problem is here.

The difference is that by planting the GPS you can then gather the data after the fact to see if the person did anything or went anywhere they shouldn't have. I like the GPS tracking, but only if it is used as real time tracking just like a tail.

They should require a warrant to gather the data electronically for storage, but no warrant for real time tracking and the real time tracking should have a limited time frame. Tracking someone for months at a time is a little excessive since you probably wouldn't tail someone that long.


RE: You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By FITCamaro on 8/14/08, Rating: -1
By grenableu on 8/14/2008 11:56:29 AM , Rating: 5
What's wrong with getting a warrant first to plant the tracker? That's the whole point of warrants. To make sure police don't intrude on someone unless there's reasonable suspicion of a crime.

RE: You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By tastyratz on 8/14/2008 11:05:50 AM , Rating: 2
I think of it the same way as a police tail, but I think there should be restrictions on its use. I don't thin it should require a warrant, but maybe something along the lines of using gps tracking data requires probable cause but no warrant until 48 hours or if the car has stopped more than 12 hours. Tracking data should be kept strictly as confidential as well.

RE: You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By bigjaicher on 8/14/08, Rating: 0
By SoCalBoomer on 8/14/2008 11:49:47 AM , Rating: 1
you don't need probable cause to follow someone - shoot, you or I could do that right now - so why stick that burden in there?

I don't consider where I drive my car to be private information. My car is pretty obvious and very easy to follow (as long as I don't disappear into a crowd of bigger cars :D )

I don't see a problem with this.

RE: You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By MozeeToby on 8/14/2008 12:59:22 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, with probably cause there really isn't much of an issue here. Even without probably cause I don't have much of a problem with it using today's technology. The problem is 10 or 20 years from now when it will be possible to buy 10,000 gps trackers for $100 and track everyone and everything in the city.

I'd feel a lot better about the future if our congressmen were engineers, programmers, or at least science fiction fans. It seems like a lot of our laws will be moot withing 20 years because technology will have changed so drastically by then, our only real hope is that the courts can keep up and intepret the laws in ways that make sense for the time.

By mindless1 on 8/15/2008 5:29:19 PM , Rating: 2
It's no more right to have it happen to one person than everyone. What you're essentially suggesting is you don't think it'll happen to you by the odds, but that it's ok if it happens to someone else.

There is already a procedure in place for situations like this, if the suspicion against someone is strong enough a court can allow these practices on a case by case basis.

By bobcpg on 8/14/2008 11:26:50 AM , Rating: 5
No its not. That same police officer can not follow you to a different state or even country. How about if you are on private land, GPS will "follow" but a police officer can not.

RE: You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By FITCamaro on 8/14/08, Rating: -1
RE: You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By adiposity on 8/14/2008 12:26:01 PM , Rating: 5
"Results speak for themselves"

Actually, the police are doing the speaking. You have no idea how much these things are used or how effective they are or have been. There is no way to know if the police wouldn't have made the same arrests without the devices. You are trusting the people using the devices to accurately portray their usefulness.

I'm sure putting a government video camera in everyone's home would also lead to more criminals being arrested and perhaps even a reduction in crime. So why aren't we doing this?

Now, personally, I have no problem with the police tracking a criminal they have good reason to suspect. What I don't understand is why they don't think they need a warrant. If they have a good reason to track someone, surely they can get a warrant to do so. Judges allow wiretaps on reasonable suspicion all the time.

As usual, the problem here isn't that the technique being used is inherently bad, it's that the police aren't required to get permission to use the technique. They could go put GPS on every car in the neighborhood, and try to discover criminals that way. If they don't need a warrant, there is no reason they can't do this. If they happen to discover anything private, personal, or embarrassing along the way, well...too bad, I guess.

In the few isolated cases that are cited as proof of the techniques effectiveness, I'm sure the police could have gotten a warrant. But of course they don't want such restrictions, because the less oversight there is, the easier their job is. So what if they are infringing on the privacy of a few civilians in the process?

Personally, I find it pretty annoying that someone can stick something to my car without asking permission from a judge first. If I find it, I'm going to throw it away. Am I then liable for destruction of govt. property? It's also questionable whether these can really be used as evidence. You could stick the device to one car and claim it was on another later. But that's beside the point, I suppose.


RE: You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By nipples04 on 8/14/2008 12:52:46 PM , Rating: 3
You nailed it. Numerous forms of invasive electronic surveillance have already been approved for use by the police, and numerous more are sure to come in the future with technology advancements; but those methods typically require the approval of a court (let's table the patriot act & warrantless wiretapping issues for the moment). This practice allows the police to plant a piece of surveillance equipment on your personal property without your consent (or even knowledge), and they are being allowed to do so without the approval of a court. I'm amazed only a handful of those replying are remotely troubled by this.

I've no doubt that MOST law enforcement personnel are (in general) of sufficient integrity so as to not abuse this privilege. That is not the point. It COULD be abused, and with no checks in place to ensure it is not, what guarantee to I have that my privacy is not invaded?

I'm sure some will argue that driving is not a right, and therefore my enjoyment of said can wantonly be violated by the government. I would agree if they tail me, or watch me from a helicopter; but if they plant something on my private property that absolutely is a violation of privacy just as much as them planting a microchip under my skin or bugging my home phone would be. Furthermore, what if the cop decided he just wanted to plant HIM/HER-SELF in/on my car? Is that ok? They just installed their self (arguably just a piece of police property) in my car. Who's got a problem with that? Who's got a problem with that being allowed with NO CHECK WHATSOEVER?!

I'm sick of this. JUST GET A WARRANT! Government should exist at the pleasure of the governed, not the other way around.

Graduation day is coming

By DigitalFreak on 8/14/2008 6:24:08 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. It's not like anyone is calling for the devices to be outlawed. All they need to do is get a warrant first. If they don't have enough evidence for a judge to approve one, then they don't deserve it.

RE: You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By TOAOCyrus on 8/14/2008 10:26:11 PM , Rating: 2
Thing is tailing and surveillance is how the police usually gather enough evidence for a warrant. I think probable cause is good enough, I mean police already have the right to search your car with probable cause and without a warrant so this is even less intrusive.

By mindless1 on 8/15/2008 5:37:48 PM , Rating: 2
Except that probable cause is a load of nonsense half the time. I respect police officers trying to do their job, but people can and are suspected of things simply because an officer doesn't understand what they're doing. Case in point, once when we had a bad snowstorm and I couldn't dig my car out to get to the store, I walked there at night. I'm a healthy guy, used to a colder climate and walking in the snow is a trivial thing.

I was stopped and questioned for the better part of a half hour because they assumed I must be up to no good. Maybe I looked suspicious wearing winter wear, a thick coat and a dark cap (not a ski mask). Maybe it's common sense to wear a cap when it's snowing outside. After their questioning they followed me walking along, in their car, until I got to the store. I felt really proud of how my tax dollars were spent that day. Not.

Point is, there's real probable cause and then there's an officer that has nothing better to do and stepped over the line. I don't like having to explain what I am doing to someone if I am not breaking any laws, it's really none of their business otherwise.

RE: You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By walk2k on 8/14/2008 1:05:32 PM , Rating: 2
It's not the same. The GPS doesn't know WHO is driving the car, for one. It also can't tell the difference between someone who parks in front of a strip club but goes into the dry cleaners next door, etc etc etc.. Having human eyes and a human brain (well... a beat cop has something resembling one anyway) vs a computer device is a BIG difference.

Not to even mention the fact that using a computerized automated data collection system would allow them to basically slap a GPS on every citizen's car and record their every movement, and without the requirement for a warrant there would be NOTHING stopping them from doing so.

You don't see the problem... Guess you haven't read much Orwell eh?

By drm67 on 8/14/2008 1:27:37 PM , Rating: 2
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

- Ben Franklin

By TOAOCyrus on 8/14/2008 10:28:38 PM , Rating: 2
I believe there should be restrictions but not necessarily a warrant. Probable cause is all that is needed to search a car as it is.

RE: You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By majBUZZ on 8/14/2008 6:04:02 PM , Rating: 2
If the police don't respect or follow the law how or why should anyone else? Like they say a fish rots from the head down. Hypocrisy is a great way to under mind good intentions.

Kids growing up see a lack of respect for the law from the very people charged with enforcing it, and people wonder why there is such a decline in ethics and morals.

RE: You don't need a warrant neccessarily
By rhangman on 8/14/2008 9:42:46 PM , Rating: 2
Just get a blocker:
Illegal I believe, but then that is hardly going to stop a criminal. Really can't see GPS trackers working as the criminals adapt. So once again it really isn't going to effect the people they say they are targeting.

By mindless1 on 8/15/2008 5:41:22 PM , Rating: 2
If it's important enough to get a blocker, maybe getting one from someplace other than an oriental mail-order shop would be nice. Oops, it didn't work as advertised but you didn't find out till it needed to work? Then again, I suppose if it really needed to work then the suspect probably was up to no good and more attention should be paid to their actions - after getting the warrant to do so.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki