Skip to comments.Bumper crop for cops: Can secretly attach GPS - judge
Posted on 01/21/2005 11:01:49 AM PST by CrawDaddyCA
Cops without a warrant can secretly attach Global Positioning System devices to a suspect's vehicle, according to a federal judge - who said using the gadgets is virtually the same thing as following a car along a road.
The decision handed down by U.S. Judge David Hurd in upstate Utica last week could give law enforcement officials another high-tech weapon to catch criminals, but is troubling to privacy advocates.
Hurd ruled that Robert (Bugsy) Moran, a Hells Angel member and defense attorney accused of conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, had "no expectation of privacy in the whereabouts of his vehicle on a public roadway."
"Law enforcement personnel could have conducted a visual surveillance of the vehicle as it traveled on the public highways," Hurd wrote.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Grable, who is prosecuting Moran, strongly backed the ruling.
"Your movements on a highway aren't private," he said. "You don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy, which is a Fourth Amendment test."
But civil liberties advocates said the decision opens the door to increased government surveillance.
Miniature GPS receivers are now available for about $1,000 and can be affixed to the undercarriage of vehicles in minutes.
Hurd's ruling is only binding in his upstate courtroom, said law Prof. Barry Kamins, but other judges will likely consult it.
"It's kinda scary," said Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York City Liberties Union. "If this ruling applied to New York City, the NYPD would be free to go out and attach these devices to cars and track people without any showing of wrongdoing."
In the Laci Peterson murder case, California detectives got court permission to hide the devices on three of Scott Peterson's vehicles. They showed Peterson visited a marina they had searched several times.
Not all judges agree with the most recent federal ruling.
Last year, Nassau County Court Judge Joseph Calabrese said attaching a GPS device to a car amounted to a search and seizure. "At this time, more than ever, individuals must be given the constitutional protections necessary to their continued unfettered freedom from a 'big brother' society," he wrote.
They can also be found and removed in seconds. Know your vehicle.
But that doesn't include just highway movement, does it? It tracks what private establishments one goes to... Heck, you could drive around for 3 days in a parking lot, never entering onto the public roads, and it would record that too.
That, and a huge potential for GPS detectors.
"Your movements on a highway aren't private"
So the only place you have an expectation of privacy is inside your own home apparently. Exactly how much better of are we than people under the old soviet system?. Oh I guess we still have our houses, thats right.
This is not the type of country in which I want to live!
Most intersections in my area have video cameras. Simply add license plate reading software, and they will know where most people are most of the time.
My thoughts exactly...Anyone with a GPS attached vehicle may drive that vehicle to where they should have a reasonable expectation of privacy...
Drive down to the truck stop remove device and attach it to a long haul truck heading out of town.
Yeah, no expectation of privacy, but he did expect the government not to tamper with his property.
Anyone carrying a cell phone can be tracked..
Look out for the "if you have nothing to hide" crowd. Those people will sell any freedom away.
Placing a device on a private vehicle without the owner's permission is not a violation of privacy? How about recording everything the driver says as he drives down the road. This judge is a very dangerous idiot.
"who said using the gadgets is virtually the same thing as following a car along a road."
The only difference being that if they actually want to follow a car on the road they have to use a vehicle and manpower to do it.
Now instead they can have someone attach a device that costs $60 to as many cars as they want and sit someone down at a pc to watch them.
This is very, very bad.
"Anyone carrying a cell phone can be tracked..
Not if it's powered off. I never turn mine on unless I'm making a call.
In this day and age, you also don't (or shouldn't) expect that you'd have an expectation of privacy on the phone or the internet, because in reality, you don't. Very slippery slope.
If you haven't done anything wrong, you don't have anything to fear
The devices that these cops are using must include some sort of transmitter. This is more like Lojack, or the combined GPS/cell-phone services provided by OnStar.
So I don't want stories like this to scare people away from heading to the store and picking up a standalone GPS navigation system, or ordering one (without OnStar) in their car. They're pretty cool and useful devices.
(As for cell phones with GPS built in---well, I don't know enough about them to know for sure how much of a privacy scare they are. But there is definitely potential for scariness there.)
Not if your windows are open. Police may also trespass on your property and conduct surveillance without a warrant.
Exactly how much better of are we than people under the old soviet system?.
The USSR Bill of Rights serves the same purpose as our Bill of Rights, to convince people they are free despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary.
Article 54. Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed inviolability of the person. No one may be arrested except by a court decision or on the warrant of a procurator.
Article 55. Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed inviolability of the home. No one may, without lawful grounds, enter a home against the will of those residing in it.
Article 56. The privacy of citizens, and of their correspondence, telephone conversations, and telegraphic communications is protected by law.
I don't know about suspect's cars, but I am getting one for my car when my daughter starts driving.
Time to start selling a GPS jammer, maybe broadcast static at 1575.42 and 1227.60 MHz.
If they can take the time to get one of these devices and install it on a car, I don't think it can be seen as an undue burden to law enforcement to also require a warrant.
From what I gathered in the story, the judge might respond by pointing out that the police don't need your permission to follow your vehicle.
"... the NYPD would be free to go out and attach these devices to cars and track people without any showing of wrongdoing."
Really? Does that also mean the cops can follow you without any just cause? If so, color me surprised. This I did not know.
I have to admit, on some level, their attaching a GPS to a vehicle would seem to be not much different than their following the same vehicle 24x7 with the world's smallest, most maneuverable helicopter. It still doesn't seem right, though.
"Must attach Bat-Tracker to the back of the villians' getaway car..."
If you want on the list, FReepmail me. This IS a high-volume PING list...
If the battery is in it, connected, it's still "doable."
Typical NY State crap!
Since you mentioned that you may be the person who can answer this question for me.
Is it true that for certain models of cell phones the cell phone provider can send it a message to wake up/power on when it's turned off?
Slightly off-topic, but I also read that you can open your locked car door by calling home and having somebody press the button on another fob into your cell phone while you hold the phone up to the car. Sounds great - true, anybody?
I've heard that but can't confirm it. If an individual presses the power button to turn it on, it seems that a device, not unlike a remote, could turn it on.
I don't know if you were aiming your comment towards me, or towards the judge whose line I quoted... I was pointing out that his logic was skewed, even if that held true.
Don't know if it's true but you hooked me so I'll probably wind up trying it. Lol.
Keep the cell phone battery unhooked....
Now you've got it!
True. But in conducting the visual surveillance, the cop wouldn't have had to place his hands on the vehicle without a warrant or the owner's consent to install the tracking device.
BTW, this is why I will never have Onstar or Easypass. How could I seriesly argue that I have an expectation of privacy if I've authorized GM to track my every move?
Holy Homing Device, Batman! :-)
Wow, many ideas going through my mind now.
Same here. I've heard/read it in a few different places but haven't found anything written where someone comes clean about it.
It certainly sounded possible to me as well.
Not. Your fob sends a radio signal to your vehicle, while a cell phone can only "hear" audio frequencies. I'd bet $100 it doesn't work.
Ahhhh, no. I can turn it on remotely. You might want to take the battery out...
Ping to #39. It would seem we have our answer.
"Ahhhh, no. I can turn it on remotely. You might want to take the battery out...
Depends on the model.
Look for both batterys. That little memory saver can send a fix...
You are correct, and therefore, it should be a simple matter of using an electronic "sweeper" device on your vehicle to detect the outgoing signal. You can then presumably do with it as you will, seeing as once it is attached to your vehicle (your property) it becomes part of that vehicle, and thus is yours.
A criminal has to be sentenced by a court before he can be required to wear a monitoring bracelet. This is nothing more than a monitoring bracelet for your car, and thus you deserve all the protection of the law in order for the cops to be allowed to legally attach one to your car. If they don't give that to you, then they have merely made a present to you of a (presumably not cheap) GPS tracking device.
Just wrap it in tinfoil or one of those mylar bags that cpu's come wrapped in. Makes a faraday cage so the signals can't get through.
I'm wondering how the judge would like it if they attached one to his bumper? These people think because they're working within the system that it will never turn on them.
You might get some mileage (pun intended) out of one of those "trip computers" that logs her acceleration and speeding habits :) But I hear where you're coming from. I wonder if perhaps OnStar is willing to tell you your car's location as long as you give them your password.
They have a device that will remotely hook your battery back up.
You will not like this.
Right now it is very primitive. They can only detect if a person is there.
Within 5 to 10 years, they will be able to see into your shower as you clean up, and the resolution will be such that they can comment on your "manhood".