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Author Topic: Government use GPS trackers  (Read 1175 times)

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Offline BrandonTopic starter

Government use GPS trackers
« on: October 17, 2010, 12:59:25 AM »
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101016/ap_on_re_us/us_gps_tracking_warrants

Quote
SAN FRANCISCO Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old computer salesman and community college student, took his car in for an oil change earlier this month and his mechanic spotted an odd wire hanging from the undercarriage.

The wire was attached to a strange magnetic device that puzzled Afifi and the mechanic. They freed it from the car and posted images of it online, asking for help in identifying it.

Two days later, FBI agents arrived at Afifi's Santa Clara apartment and demanded the return of their property a global positioning system tracking device now at the center of a raging legal debate over privacy rights.

One federal judge wrote that the widespread use of the device was straight out of George Orwell's novel, "1984".

"By holding that this kind of surveillance doesn't impair an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, the panel hands the government the power to track the movements of every one of us, every day of our lives," wrote Alex Kozinski, the chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a blistering dissent in which a three-judge panel from his court ruled that search warrants weren't necessary for GPS tracking.

But other federal and state courts have come to the opposite conclusion.

Law enforcement advocates for the devices say GPS can eliminate time-consuming stakeouts and old-fashioned "tails" with unmarked police cars. The technology had a starring role in the HBO cops-and-robbers series "The Wire" and police use it to track every type of suspect from terrorist to thieves stealing copper from air conditioners.

That investigators don't need a warrant to use GPS tracking devices in California troubles privacy advocates, technophiles, criminal defense attorneys and others.

The federal appeals court based in Washington D.C. said in August that investigators must obtain a warrant for GPS in tossing out the conviction and life sentence of Antoine Jones, a nightclub owner convicted of operating a cocaine distribution ring. That court concluded that the accumulation of four-weeks worth of data collected from a GPS on Jones' Jeep amounted to a government "search" that required a search warrant.

Judge Douglas Ginsburg said watching Jones' Jeep for an entire month rather than trailing him on one trip made all the difference between surveilling a suspect on public property and a search needing court approval.

"First, unlike one's movements during a single journey, the whole of one's movements over the course of a month is not actually exposed to the public because the likelihood anyone will observe all those movements is effectively nil," Ginsburg wrote. The state high courts of New York, Washington and Oregon have ruled similarly.

The Obama administration last month asked the D.C. federal appeals court to change its ruling, calling the decision "vague and unworkable" and arguing that investigators will lose access to a tool they now use "with great frequency."

After the D.C. appeals court decision, the 9th Circuit refused to revisit its opposite ruling.

The panel had concluded that agents could have gathered the same information by following Juan Pineda-Moreno, who was convicted of marijuana distribution after a GPS device alerted agents he was leaving a suspected "grow site."

"The only information the agents obtained from the tracking devices was a log of the locations where Pineda-Moreno's car traveled, information the agents could have obtained by following the car," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote for the three-judge panel.

Two other federal appeals court have ruled similarly.

In his dissent, Chief Judge Kozinski noted that GPS technology is far different from tailing a suspect on a public road, which requires the active participation of investigators.

"The devices create a permanent electronic record that can be compared, contrasted and coordinated to deduce all manner of private information about individuals," Kozinksi wrote.

Legal scholars predict the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately resolve the issue since so many courts disagree.

George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr said the issue boils down to public vs. private. As long as the GPS devices are attached to vehicles on public roads, Kerr believes the U.S. Supreme Court will decide no warrant is needed. To decide otherwise, he said, would ignore a long line of previous 4th Amendment decisions allowing for warrantless searches as long as they're conducted on public property.

"The historic line is that public surveillance is not covered by the 4th Amendment," Kerr said.

All of which makes Afifi's lawyer pessimistic that he has much of a chance to file a successful lawsuit challenging the FBI's actions. Afifi is represented by Zahra Billoo of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country's largest Islamic civil rights group.

Afifi declined comment after spending last week fielding myriad media inquiries after wired.com posted the story of his routine oil change and it went viral on the Internet.

Still, Billoo hopes the discovered GPS tracking device will help publicize in dramatic fashion the issue of racial profiling the lawyer says Arab-Americans routinely encounter.

She said Afifi was targeted because of his extensive ties to the Middle East, which include supporting two brothers who live in Egypt and making frequent overseas trips. His father was a well-known Islamic-American community leader who died last year in Egypt.

"Yasir hasn't done anything to warrant that kind of surveillance," Billoo said. "This was a blatant example of profiling."


I found myself torn about this article. Having worked in a law enforcement like office when I was a soldier I know the usefulness of such devices for tailing suspects and helping to build a case against them. However to use such devices on our own citizen's without the need of a warrant bothers me. Generally speaking, law enforcement official dont employ survallence tactics and equipment unless theyre pretty sure that they have a suspect. However, in this case to my knowlege there was no reason to suspect this young man of anything so I find myself at a loss for why the items were there for any reason outside of racial profiling.

Im curious how others feel about the use of GPS trackers with and without court approval

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2010, 01:07:04 AM »
I think it should be required to have a warrant. It's one of those slippery slope things. I don't feel too easy saying it, but I also don't feel to happy being for it. It's one of those 'rather fall on the side of rights' than against' things.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2010, 01:11:30 AM »
Put it this way - if there's a warrant, there's a paper trail, which means that someone can be held accountable for it.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2010, 01:15:38 AM »
There needs to be a warrant. Plain and simple. Tailing my car is one thing, placing equipment on MY car without MY consent is tantamount to placing a tap in MY phone without a warrant - even if I'm holding the conversation in public.

My things are my things and if the government wants to play with my things, they need to have probable cause to do so, thank you very much.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2010, 01:51:02 AM »
Put it this way - if there's a warrant, there's a paper trail, which means that someone can be held accountable for it.

Thank you..that sums up my feelings exactly. I wasn't too happy about the freedom act when it was put out because of the 'warrantless' bits. If you don't have enough to prove something you need to work harder.

Of course I had a chief I was working for at the time call me a 'pinko' for that feeling.

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Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2010, 01:53:51 AM »
  If one isn't doing something wrong and worth tracking and easily found out by other methods, why would they track you anyway? It seems to be a pointless and stupid violation of privacy.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2010, 01:54:25 AM »
Thank you..that sums up my feelings exactly. I wasn't too happy about the freedom act when it was put out because of the 'warrantless' bits. If you don't have enough to prove something you need to work harder.

Of course I had a chief I was working for at the time call me a 'pinko' for that feeling.

Did you tell him that McCarthy called and he wants his slang back? Sheesh.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2010, 02:30:02 AM »
Did you tell him that McCarthy called and he wants his slang back? Sheesh.

He apologized later when he started hearing about some of the abuses of the Patriot act. He can be thick, but he also is willing to listen. I simply felt that the patriot act was a knee jerk reaction to an act of terrorism that we'd been lucky to avoid for decades. I compared the impact to that of the english with the onset of the world wars. There had always been a bit of a disconnect given the channel between england and a lot of the wars in Europe till the bombings of the world wars.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2010, 11:46:08 AM »
  If one isn't doing something wrong and worth tracking and easily found out by other methods, why would they track you anyway? It seems to be a pointless and stupid violation of privacy.

I think that's what the guy who found it on his car was thinking.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2010, 01:05:34 PM »
  If one isn't doing something wrong and worth tracking and easily found out by other methods, why would they track you anyway? It seems to be a pointless and stupid violation of privacy.

Because you can track dozens of people this way with one guy and a PC whereas actually tailing a person takes half a dozen or more men in cars in tight coordination. It's cheaper.

Not to mention, right now in some jurisdictions, you don't need to get a warrant to do it. So you tag a bunch of folks someone pointed out and without any need for actual proof you can do this.

Offline BrandonTopic starter

Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2010, 02:01:26 PM »
Im not sure how the law is written when it comes to these kind of devices. However what I think it should be for this and future survallence technology of any kind of equipment that effects or must be placed on private property (Im reffering to material possessions and not say a house here) there must be a warrant approved by a judge. Using these pieces of equipment on citizens (US citizen's, not visitors or illegal aliens) without a warrant should be illegal, threatening prison time for all involved

Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2010, 02:08:58 PM »
If I recall this story correctly, there was an arguement that going into someones house and planting bugs on them would be an invasion of private property, but your driveway is still public enough to quickly run in, bug your car and run back out again without the need for a warrant.

Offline Revolverman

Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2010, 03:55:47 PM »
If I recall this story correctly, there was an arguement that going into someones house and planting bugs on them would be an invasion of private property, but your driveway is still public enough to quickly run in, bug your car and run back out again without the need for a warrant.

Some Private property is more private then others I see.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2010, 05:29:46 PM »
If I recall this story correctly, there was an arguement that going into someones house and planting bugs on them would be an invasion of private property, but your driveway is still public enough to quickly run in, bug your car and run back out again without the need for a warrant.

I would counter that argument by running into the government lawyer's driveway, wrapping his white Lexus with brightly colored crepe paper, and chucking a couple or five water balloons at it. 

Offline Asuras

Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2010, 09:51:32 PM »
I think it would be somewhat less invasive of my privacy to have a GPS planted on my car than to be tailed by police, actually...GPS just says where I went, a tail can see what I do there. The difference is imposing a cost on law enforcement.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2010, 11:56:04 PM »
Oh, I have no problem with the technology being used - just with the absence of sufficient cause for using it.  Requiring a warrant means that someone needs to talk to a judge and present sufficient justification for that warrant, and it's not used indiscriminately on a random person who happens to have relatives living in interesting places.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2010, 12:33:45 AM »
 If I find something like that in my car, I'm removing it and applying the Hammer method to it.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2010, 12:42:40 AM »
I'd do something sneakier, like drive to a parking lot and attach it to some random semi truck.  Unless they were also visually observing me, I'd suddenly appear to be taking a cross-country trip!

Offline MercyfulFate

Re: Government use GPS trackers
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2010, 01:24:09 AM »
Warrant of course. You can't say your car is a public place, what if it's on your property or in a garage?

This whole push towards less privacy scares the shit out of me and it always has.