Is Warrant-less GPS Tracking Legal?
The courts are divided on the legality of GPS tracking and the issue seems destined for the Supreme Court.
The government is NOT you friend !!!
They never were.
A quote from me: Corporations are the new Mafia, and the Government are their lawyers.
Yes, I created that one...
If the government says it's legal than it's legal. The Constitution has become nothing more than a nuisance and something for those in power to trample on.
Let me say at the very beginning that I'm NOT a lawyer, judge or police officer.
Law enforcement can follow you on the sidewalk, while you are driving your car, even sit next to you in a restaurant without a warrant. They can take your picture or take video of your actions. They can take note of the people you meet or talk to and, if they happen to be close enough, what you discussed.
They cannot follow you from room to room in your home, trail you on your property, record your conversations or phone calls or take your picture inside your home without a warrant.
The difference between these things is that one is done in public and the other in private. I don't see how you can expect any degree of privacy while you are in public places. I also fail to see the difference between following you in a car and sitting in an office and following you on a computer screen. Both are uses of technology that would seem to be valid and lawful uses.
jackj180, I agree with your analysis.
The question needs to be asked as to how the tracking device got on the car. I have seen devices for sale that will let parents track their own vehicle while their child is driving. I am sure that domestic disputes have resulted in one or other of the spouses attaching such a device to see where the car goes.
Has the legality of a law enforcement officer attaching a device to a car while the car is in a public location been tested?
Never trust the government...
Boy, I hope we can!
I agree with most of this assessment. The point is that the examples given do not require direct interaction with you or your property. They are observations of your behavior in a public place. Wire-taps and the like require the aforementioned manipulation/interaction. Therefore, tailing someone in a car wouldn't require a warrant, but the moment they want to stick something on a car, I'd say "Get a warrant".
Okay, I see your point HEBurke and I agree up to a point. If 'sticking something on a car' means opening the hood or car door, wiring something up to your car's electrical system or marking the car in anyway then you would be right IMO. But the state already sticks something on your car, license plates. They require you to carry the registration in the car. Where is the difference between that and walking by your car and attaching a magnet-mounted, battery operated GPS device? On the third hand, once the government attaches something to your car, they give it to you. You are within your rights, once you find it, to destroy it, give it away or sell it. They no longer have a claim of ownership.
The way I see it, the question is the difference between public and private. I think that the government could use any technology to follow you including video surveillance as long as it takes place in public areas without needing a warrant. Private areas are not limited to homes but also include all places where the public is usually not allowed including public areas at times when the public is not admitted will require a warrant.
However I do have a problem with the police arresting someone on a public sidewalk or in a public shopping mall and charging them with trespass. How can you trespass on public property at a time when the public is allowed to use it? Or on private property at a time when the public is invited, like a shopping center mall?
The biggest difference between the state's license plate and the state's GPS receiver is that you KNOW about the license plate and attach it as a means of identifying yourself to the authorities and for satisfying the state that you paid your road taxes.
The entire vehicle-owning public MUST have plates and a registration.
If they choose to track you though ALPR networks, that's fine, because as someone pointed out these are simply observations and can be ended if desired by the target, who is aware that the possibility exists for either passive or active surveillance using this technique.
However when there must be a specific action with the property of te individual to initiate the surveillance, then it involves going up to, or into personal property, whether on the street or in my garage. It is STILL privately owned property they are messing with.
You can tap a phone line without actually making a direct electrical connection - it can be done indictively - and the wires between where they are attached to my home cross loads of public thoroughfares along the way - they still can't make their connections, even if the cabling is accessible without the permission of the courts. They need a warrant to do this. Period.
I fail to see how attaching a covert GPS to my car is really any different.
Did you know that Onstar can listen in on the cabin without your knowledge? They don't, but they can.
Could they have Onstar (for example) or AT&T deliver GPS reports and audio from my car or from my phone without a warrant? How would this be of any significant difference?
Tapping a phone line, even is a public area, requires a warrant. Why? Because you have an EXPECTATION of privacy on a phone. The same holds for your home or your office at work, you expect conversations on those devices or in those places to be private. E-mail users have the same expectation of privacy even though the communication passes through and over publicly owned devices and networks. Conversations you hold in your car while driving on public highways are private but the location of your car isn't private. If your car is parked in your garage at home then placing a GPS enabled tracking device would require a warrant to enter the property (garage). Same is true if the device needs to be placed inside the car or hooked up to the car. But if the car's location can be tracked by the "Mark 1 eyeball" without a warrant why would you need a warrant to track it using an external device sitting on or under the car?
Yes, there needs to be strict limits placed on what government as well as private agencies can do. Those limits need to be strictly enforced to protect the public. But placing unrealistic restrictions is unwise and could lead to less, not more, privacy.
I will not be able to change anyone's mind on this subject. You will not be able to change mine either so I'm not going to respond to anything else in this thread. I wish all of you a long, happy and PRIVATE life.
On the third hand, once the government attaches something to your car, they give it to you. You are within your rights, once you find it, to destroy it, give it away or sell it. They no longer have a claim of ownership.
Well...not entirely true. Possession doesn't necessarily imply ownership, think about government issued IDs, for instance. Also check out this story: http://m.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/10/fbi-tracking-device/
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