by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
4th amendment, gps, privacy, surveillance

Justice Department Insists It Should Be Able To Secretly Stick GPS Devices On Cars Without Warrants

from the privacy-is-dead dept

Back in August, we wrote about the (somewhat surprising) appeals court ruling in the District of Columbia circuit saying that longterm GPS tracking of someone by law enforcement required a warrant. The issues at play here certainly aren't entirely clearcut. After all, it does make sense that when you're in a public space, you have little expectation of privacy. But is that true when it comes to tracking everywhere you go in public? That seems a little more questionable, and it's clearly the part that the court had trouble with, noting that short bursts of surveillance don't require a warrant, but sustained surveillance gets past the expectation of privacy barrier and requires a warrant. While some worry that this is too vague, it does have a certain amount of logic to it.

Either way, the Justice Department wants none of that, and is asking the full circuit to rehear the case and reverse the original ruling, saying that it should not require a warrant, suggesting that the sum of all our public travel does not deserve any privacy. While I do agree that the initial "rules" are vague, I have to agree that sustained, long-term tracking through a secretly installed GPS devices does seem to cross a line on the "expectation of privacy" spectrum.

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  1. icon
    Vic (profile), 24 Sep 2010 @ 11:40am

    No need to involve cops for GPS

    GPS tracking only needs to be 'legal' if its used for a legal purpose. I've heard cops say they don't have electronic surveillance equipment - and they use contractors, like from the phone company. You can take your car in for servicing, and while you are waiting somebody has a nice chat with the service guys and you drive away with GPS wired under the dash of your car. No cops involved in the setup.

    They might monitor the signal but monitoring is airwave stuff.

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