Feds Won't Challenge Ruling That Says It Needs A Warrant To Put GPS Devices On Cars... For Now

from the but-we'll-see-if-that-stays dept

Back in October, we wrote about the Third Circuit appeals court ruling that attaching a GPS device to someone's car required a warrant. While the Justice Department is now challenging the part of that decision which said that the evidence obtained via the warrantless GPS use must be sustained (the government is arguing for a "good faith exception" to let it use the information under the belief that it was collected legally -- basically saying if they knew it required a warrant they would have gotten one), it has decided to not challenge the larger point that a warrant is needed to attach a GPS device to a car. That's good news, but it's only a little bit of good news.

The government does say that it "respectfully disagrees with the Court's requirement of a warrant to install and use a GPS device" but isn't seeking a review of that ruling. That, most likely, means that it's just waiting for another court to rule on the matter in a different circuit (and hoping for a better outcome) and can pit those two circuits against each other in a Supreme Court review. So, basically, it's just avoiding the issue for the time being.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anon E. Mous (profile), Dec 10th, 2013 @ 8:19pm

    Why would that challenge it? They don't follow the law anyway or there wouldn't have been the need for someone to challenge it.

    Does anyone here believe the Feds will actually start now? Look for them to come up with another loophole to not have to abide by the courts ruling.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 10th, 2013 @ 10:35pm

    The FBI should just hire the NSA they'll do it then classify it to level that requires the rubber stamp court to even look into it.

     

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  3.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Dec 10th, 2013 @ 11:09pm

    Re:

    'Requires a warrant for GPS tracking'...

    Hmm, I wonder wherever they would manage to find a court that approves almost every single surveillance request put in front of them, plays fast and loose with legal wording to allow far more than any sane person would think is reasonable, and is used to making decisions based entirely on what little data they are handed?

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Dec 10th, 2013 @ 11:12pm

    Re:

    If they were partnering with the NSA, they wouldn't need to place anything on the vehicles themselves, the NSA is already tracking phone location data, so as long as the suspect doesn't leave their phone at home, they'd be able to track them that way.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 12:58am

    They have so many ways of illegally tracking people's location at this point. That's why they aren't bothering.

     

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    Andy, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 5:12am

    Rules for Feds?

    When was the last time the feds followed rules? They are not contesting because it simply doesn't matter to them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 5:44am

    Why would they bother? They're already getting all the location data they need from tower dumps and RFID toll badges (like EZPass).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 6:38am

    No big deal

    they will just get a warrant 'ex post facto' despite any contrary laws to that and a judge will roll over anyways. Or the will just wash all of the data and say it came from phone company or street cameras or some little green leprechaun recently gang-pressed into employment, none of which will be rejected by the court.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 7:01am

    Why would they need to challenge the requirement for a warrant if another part of the same law would allow a good faith provision to skip getting it? As I see it, that is the perfect scenario for the feds. Project the illusion that the warrant is needed - yet no need to get it based on their say so.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 7:13am

    Didn't the Supreme Court already rule they need a warrant to do this? I recall one of the government lawyers said right to the court's face that in their opinion it would be perfectly legal for the government to put a GPS tracking device on the cars of all the Supreme Court Justices without a warrant.

     

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    PlagueSD (profile), Dec 11th, 2013 @ 8:12am

    All newer cars already have a GPS tracker

    Why would the feds need to put a GPS tracker on your car? All they need to do is contact the company that already has this tech installed in your car (onStar, Sync, LoJack, etc.) and force them to hand over the records...like they do with the phone companies.

     

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    btrussell (profile), Dec 11th, 2013 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re:

    I am the only one left on earth who doesn't own/use a cellphone?

     

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

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    btrussell (profile), Dec 11th, 2013 @ 8:54am

    "That, most likely, means that it's just waiting for another court to rule on the matter in a different circuit (and hoping for a better outcome) and can pit those two circuits against each other in a Supreme Court review. So, basically, it's just avoiding the issue for the time being."

    Are there other cases pending? Or are they just going to ignore this ruling and wait until they are caught again for the next case? That isn't avoiding. It is ignoring.

     

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

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    Chris Brand, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 11:06am

    Good faith

    The assumptions behind this idea are backwards. It comes from the assumption that anything is fair game without a warrant unless there's some law or precedent requiring one. It should be the other way round - if there's no law or precedent saying you *don't* need a warrant to get at the information, assume you need one. That's the only way to keep us safe because technology evolves far faster than the law.
    If some molecular sniffer thing is developed that can track you from the traces of scent you leave behind as you travel, we shouldn't have a period of time when law enforcement considers it fair game until Congress and the courts actually look at it and saw "you need a warrant for that".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2013 @ 11:50am

    They Don't Need It

    If I understand the current state of automotive control electronics, the Feds aren't complaining because all new cars INCLUDE GPS tracking as part of the package. They really don't need to attach devices.
    .

     

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  16.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Dec 12th, 2013 @ 9:23am

    Re: All newer cars already have a GPS tracker

    Maybe because lots of people disable these systems on their cars. One might expect that people engaging in criminal activities are even more likely to disable them than the average person.

     

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


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