NJ Judge Says Using GPS To Track Spouse Is Not An Invasion Of Privacy

from the expectation-of-privacy dept

DannyB was the first of a few of you to send in this story about a NJ court ruling that said a wife putting a GPS device in her husband's car, in order to help investigators she had hired to tell her if he was cheating on her, was not an invasion of his privacy.
“There is no direct evidence in this record to establish that during the approximately 40 days the GPS was in the ... glove compartment the device captured a movement of plaintiff into a secluded location that was not in public view, and, if so, that such information was passed along by Mrs. Villanova to (Leonard),”
Venkat Balasubramani has an excellent analysis of the ruling and notes some of the oddities in it. The one that struck me in particular was the fact that the court didn't seem to pay much attention to the fact that the car was jointly owned by the couple, which you would think would lend even more credence to the idea that she had the right to put a GPS device on the car:
There was an interesting fact that didn't receive as much as attention as I thought it should: the car was jointly owned. I'm surprised the court did not discuss the fact that since the wife owned the car, she could have argued that she had the right to track its movements. (On a related note, the plaintiff, who was a police office, tried to argue that he used the car for law enforcement purposes once in awhile, but the court is extremely skeptical of this argument.) Another fact that the court did not focus on directly is whether the result would have been different if the investigative firm (rather than the wife) was the one who did the GPS tracking....

It was also interesting that despite using a "reasonable expectation of privacy" standard, the court does not discuss the diminished expectation of privacy for the husband vis a vis his wife . . . who is trying to investigate him for having an affair. I'm not suggesting that spouses waive their privacy rights with respect to one another, but if you're having an affair, is it not reasonable to expect that your spouse may be checking up on you?
I'll admit that I'm not nearly as troubled as I am by similar stories involving police putting GPS devices on cars. In these types of cases, there do seem to be plenty of additional reasons why such GPS tracking is not nearly as egregious. I'm sure putting a tracking device on your spouse (or in their vehicles) may serve as a perfectly good reason for a divorce, but as a legal matter? Seems like a stretch.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 7:08pm

    The spouse is going to sue his wife for his own money?

    They both jointly own whatever money they have, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Tom Landry (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 7:12pm

    why did I initially read that headline as "Nancy Grace says Using GPS To Track Spouse Is Not An Invasion Of Privacy"

    I need some sleep

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Jul 8th, 2011 @ 7:33pm

    This gives new meaning to the term "I will track you down"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    ervserver (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 11:06pm

    Been a different story if it had been a GPS with remote explosive device

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Richard (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 2:13am

    Wait wait wait, I think you're missing the most disturbing part of that ruling, as I read it anyway.

    Apparently, it is ok, because the GPS never reported a position that wasn't a public place. That's how I read that little snippet. So apparently, so long as it's only reporting the public places (like a street, or outside an address) that's ok? But if it reported a private place (like the inside of a private garage) then it would be bad? Given that cars rarely tend to go to truly private places (parked on the street, public parking, etc) that means there is apparently no grounds at all for a GPS placed on a car to be an invasion of privacy?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 6:46am

    What if the vehicle did go into a private location? How is that known unless it is indicated in the GPS data.

    Therefore to know you are not allowed to collect and view the GPS data, you must have already collected and viewed the GPS data. Makes sense...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 7:25am

    What's truly sad about this whole mess is that *anyone* (from us all the way up to the judge) is examining in detail whether a spouse can/did invade another spouse's privacy.

    Are you fucking kidding me??!! Our society has completely lost it's common sense.

    If you are married, you have no right to bitch if your spouse sticks their nose in your bidness. You can try to keep secrets, but if you get busted, that's tough shit! Why are you even married if you are keeping such secrets anyway? Marriage tends not to work too well when you are so much of a self-centered asshole, that you claim "invasion of privacy" when you're fucking around and your spouse wants to know where you are and what you're up to.

    Common. Fucking. Sense. Why is this even news?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 8:02am

    Re:

    I dont imagine they share anything jointly anymore

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 9:53am

    Re:

    "you have no right to bitch"

    Tell that to your SO - lol


    "You can try to keep secrets, but if you get busted, that's tough shit!"

    Dear Santa, my SO is an ass


    "Marriage tends not to work too well when you are so much of a self-centered asshole"

    So, you are not married - amirite?


    "Common. Fucking. Sense. Why is this even news?"

    I was unaware that this site disseminates "the news".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    ck attorney (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 10:14am

    Legal

    That was a great take and something I will keep in mine for future cases...Thank YOU for a great article!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Rekrul, Jul 9th, 2011 @ 10:30am

    The ironic part is that even if he wasn't cheating, their marriage is probably still over because of her snooping.

     

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  12.  
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    Revelati, Jul 10th, 2011 @ 6:37am

    So its fine for the police to track you, its fine for apple to track you, and its fine for your wife to track you. Why do we even have privacy laws? We should all just have little gps chips implanted in us at birth that give off our location to anyone who cares enough to look.

    Besides, if you're not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about... Right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jul 11th, 2011 @ 6:23am

    Does use of private car for law enforcement lose insurance coverage?

    If an off duty officer uses his private car for law enforcement purposes, and then has an accident, does he lose insurance coverage?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Chris, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 8:28am

    gps on mobiles ?

    So does that mean GPS on mobiles are exempted too ? Or only those in cars ?

     

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  15.  
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    known coward, Jul 11th, 2011 @ 12:49pm

    once again our rights go down the tube.

    Weird, I get the “it is her car too” argument. She is a part owner she has a right to track where it goes.

    The rest is just to creepy to comment upon. Once again I wish to join the lets repeal the first 10 amendments club. It is hypocritical to claim we have privacy rights and lord them over the world, when in fact we have none.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Dan F., Aug 3rd, 2011 @ 3:06pm

    The Ultimate NAG-a-vator

    How about this new product?

    It's called Mary On Board and she is the Ultimate NAG-a-vator!

    Check it out at and find out why Mary On Board is in the forefront of backseat driving in English AND Spanish!

    www.maryonboard.com

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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    GPS For Today, Oct 6th, 2011 @ 7:56am

    Rights and Marriage

    It would be interesting to hear what most people's take on marriage is and what rights/privileges one has over against their spouse. It should be noted that rights are usually used to protect against unjust action.

    Obviously we would all agree that no spouse has a right to beat, kill, torture, etc their spouse. But do spouses have a right to know where their spouse is? Or to know if they are being cheated on?

    It seems to me that a spouses do have have this protection and that would give a wife or a husband the right to track their other with GPS.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    A, Jan 24th, 2012 @ 10:39am

    Re:

    You are so correct thank you for your comment !

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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