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Local GPS case might set precedent, expert says[PA][Probable cause & search warrants to use GPS]
Tribune-Review ^ | 20 Oct 2008 | Jill King Greenwood

Posted on 10/21/2008 10:06:02 AM PDT by BGHater

A federal court case in Pittsburgh could reach the U.S. Supreme Court for a "groundbreaking" decision about whether police officers need probable cause and search warrants to use GPS technology when tracking suspects, a local expert in constitutional law said.

Across the country, detectives are using the sometimes-controversial technology to investigate cases. But Pennsylvania law doesn't clearly dictate rules, said University of Pittsburgh School of Law professor John Burkoff, author of the "Search Warrant Law Deskbook."

"The law isn't entirely clear," Burkoff said. "There are many areas open to challenge, and to be safe, the best bet would be for a police officer to get a search warrant using probable cause to protect themselves. We're still figuring out -- the courts are -- about how to handle GPS data."

In Pittsburgh, federal prosecutors appealed a decision prohibiting them from seeking cell phone tracking information without first establishing probable cause.

In February, five federal magistrate judges rebuffed a request from the U.S. Attorney's Office, saying it ran afoul of privacy rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.

"This case and a few others like it around the country could end up being groundbreaking and deciding how police and the courts should handle using this technology," Burkoff said.

When a cell phone is turned on, it constantly relays location information to towers serving its network. The phone scans for the strongest signal about every seven seconds.

Federal prosecutors want to obtain that stored information through warrantless cell phone tracking -- sometimes through real-time surveillance or, as prosecutors in Pittsburgh requested, through historic data showing where a user was at any given time.

(Excerpt) Read more at pittsburghlive.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; Government; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: activistcourts; activistjudges; bigbrother; cause; cellphonetracking; donutwatch; fourthamendment; gps; gpsdata; gpstracking; judicialactivism; lp; pa; policestate; probablecause; searchwarrant; tagandrelease; warrantless; warrantlesssearch; warrantlesstracking; withoutawarrant

1 posted on 10/21/2008 10:06:03 AM PDT by BGHater
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To: BGHater

Translation: cell company records can be used to keep track of where your cell phone has been (and thus where you likely have been) as well as where you currently are. There is special equipment that can “ping” your cell phone so that law enforcement can find you.


2 posted on 10/21/2008 10:11:38 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 ("In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell)
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To: BGHater
A divorce lawyer's wet dream.
3 posted on 10/21/2008 10:12:33 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The Democratic Party strongly supports full civil rights for necro-Americans.)
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To: BGHater
Surveillance society! Woo-hoo!

Oh.. wait a minute....

4 posted on 10/21/2008 10:16:10 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (What would a free man do?)
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To: Abathar; Abcdefg; Abram; Abundy; akatel; albertp; AlexandriaDuke; Alexander Rubin; Allerious; ...



Libertarian ping! Click here to get added or here to be removed or post a message here!
5 posted on 10/21/2008 10:25:32 AM PDT by bamahead (Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master. -- Sallust)
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To: BGHater

Sure would be an easy way to set someone up.


6 posted on 10/21/2008 10:48:04 AM PDT by stuartcr (Election year.....Who we gonna hate, in '08?)
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To: BGHater

You don’t have this right to privacy but you can have sex with another man in a public park restroom and then go back to teaching children in school.


7 posted on 10/21/2008 10:50:35 AM PDT by weegee (In honor of Joe the Plumber, at noon, we should all lower our trousers to half mast.)
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To: BGHater
Even if laws are passed which prevent warrantless use of GPS tracking by cops, that will not stop crooks like "private detectives" from using them against "enemies" of rich and powerful people, just as they use bugging, wiretapping, and many other forms of illegal surveillance and harassment. Those people don't obey the law anyway.

Does anyone know a really reliable way of finding or defeating these devices? I'm pretty sure this technology is being used against me.

8 posted on 10/21/2008 10:51:46 AM PDT by hellbender
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To: BGHater
We're still figuring out -- the courts are -- about how to handle GPS data."

It isn't for the courts to "figure out". It is for the LEGISLATURE to establish and the courts to determine if the laws established are constitutional.

Damn activist judges serving the police state.

9 posted on 10/21/2008 10:52:17 AM PDT by weegee (In honor of Joe the Plumber, at noon, we should all lower our trousers to half mast.)
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To: BGHater

So you have an absolute right to privacy concerning a 13 year old “woman’s” pregnancy & abortion decision; but none as to your phone calls?


10 posted on 10/21/2008 10:52:35 AM PDT by ApplegateRanch (The Great Obamanation of Desolation, attempting to sit in the Oval Office, where he ought not..)
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To: BGHater

One argument that might be decisive in either direction is that “a cell phone is not a person”.

That is, that as with the RIAA’s efforts to sue people based on their IP number, if their system is open WIFI, there is no way to associate that IP with a particular computer, much less a human user. (N.B. Google’s new “Chrome” browser *does* try to establish that a particular computer, at least, is the one that is surfing, so it takes away some of this anonymity.)

However, the flip side of the argument is that the police do not need a warrant to track *property*, only people. This, rather lame argument is the justification of property forfeiture in drug cases, even if no person is arrested.

Clearly, tracking people without probable cause is a violation of the 4th Amendment, so the bottom line is will the court be honest, or use convoluted arguments to justify this violation.


11 posted on 10/21/2008 10:53:58 AM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy
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To: ApplegateRanch

The courts are supposed to be blind but they are actively seeking to aid the prosecution.


12 posted on 10/21/2008 10:54:04 AM PDT by weegee (In honor of Joe the Plumber, at noon, we should all lower our trousers to half mast.)
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To: hellbender

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2088932/posts

Look up ‘GPS Spoofing’.


13 posted on 10/21/2008 10:56:28 AM PDT by BGHater (The GOP, the new DNC.)
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To: hellbender

Remove the power source. Only power it up when you want to transmit, and transmit only in a crowded public place.


14 posted on 10/21/2008 11:01:50 AM PDT by stuartcr (Election year.....Who we gonna hate, in '08?)
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To: hellbender

Does anyone know a really reliable way of finding or defeating these devices? I’m pretty sure this technology is being used against me.
***************************************************
Leave the battery out of the cell phone ... get a pager (pager messages are broadcast from all towers in the system without knowing or determining your location.. if it is a pager without reply capability) and only insert the battery in the phone to return or make calls from locations that have no downside or use a pay phone .. I have had 100% success when I forget my cell phone in simply asking someone “can I use your phone for a 1 minute call..it’s kind of an emergency” ...

the real answer is to find your antagonist and destroy them..


15 posted on 10/21/2008 11:28:50 AM PDT by Neidermeyer
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To: Neidermeyer

“Leave the battery out of the cell phone”

What about On-star, or those thumb drive GPS trackers you can buy? is there a way to stop “unknown” receivers ?


16 posted on 10/21/2008 12:28:01 PM PDT by stompk
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy
However, the flip side of the argument is that the police do not need a warrant to track *property*, only people.

Several years ago, when GPS was fairly new, I talked with the owner of a store that sold GPS receivers. He said that the FBI was always coming in and buying GPS receivers from him. They would turn one on and hide it under the plastic covering of a car's metal bumper. Then they would retrieve it a few days later and download the track that showed where the vehicle had been. It wasn't real-time tracking, but it gave them ideas about the suspect's associates.

17 posted on 10/21/2008 1:39:15 PM PDT by Tarantulas ( Illegal immigration - the trojan horse that's treated like a sacred cow)
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To: Neidermeyer
My problem isn't cell phones. I don't have one because they don't work here. I suspect a GPS device has been planted in the car.

Destroying the antagonist is certainly the way to go, but I am up against a team of very expert professionals, who have basically destroyed my life with frequent attacks for the last 29 years and counting. They are able to open any kind of lock without force, for example.

18 posted on 10/21/2008 1:54:25 PM PDT by hellbender
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To: stompk

On-Star can be defeated ,, simply disconnect the antenna or fuse. (the FBI can listen in to your car via On-star without turning on the red “mic-on” light ,, this does not use the GPS portion of the system but rather it’s cellular function) ..

GPS trackers cannot be effectively stopped as they are hard to detect (receive only) and to hinder their operation you would need to interfere with the GPS signal being received and there is probably a law against that.. as the previous post points out they need to be hidden yet receive signal ,, they are often hidden under the plastic bumper covers as that doesn’t block signal ... you could drive a truck with metal bumpers and no simple place to hide a tracker but I can’t say that would be fully effective...


19 posted on 10/21/2008 1:55:05 PM PDT by Neidermeyer
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To: BGHater
Well, this could bring back the pay phone. Seriously, did anybody doubt that the GPS tracking capability in the more recent cell phones wouldn't be used by the government to track the "little people"?

I don't agree with it, but it seems that big brother wants to keep tabs on us. It's for the children, you know....

20 posted on 10/21/2008 5:00:09 PM PDT by meyer (We are all Joe the Plumber)
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To: hellbender
Does anyone know a really reliable way of finding or defeating these devices?

Wrap your phone with foil. Reception will be ruined, but GPS won't work either.

21 posted on 10/21/2008 5:02:38 PM PDT by meyer (We are all Joe the Plumber)
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To: stuartcr

bump


22 posted on 10/21/2008 5:14:41 PM PDT by Centurion2000 (... against all enemies, foreign and domestic.)
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To: hellbender
I suspect a GPS device has been planted in the car.

Switch cars with a friend if you have something planned.

23 posted on 10/21/2008 5:16:12 PM PDT by Centurion2000 (... against all enemies, foreign and domestic.)
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To: Neidermeyer
On-Star can be defeated ,, simply disconnect the antenna or fuse. (the FBI can listen in to your car via On-star without turning on the red “mic-on” light ,, this does not use the GPS portion of the system but rather it’s cellular function) ..

This is true of any GPS reciever - if it cannot "see" the sky (and satellites), it cannot know your location. As Neidermeyer ("Thank you sir, may I have another?") says, all you need to do is disconnect the GPS antenna or otherwise block it from viewing the sky. Take an ordinary hand-held GPS receiver indoors, away from a window. Or wrap it with aluminum foil. See how it works when the signal is blocked.

As for the GPS function in cell phones, I think you'd have to be a little more innovative. As others say, removing the battery in the phone will stop it from receiving information from the GPS satellites, and will prevent it from broadcasting that information. It will also prevent it from being a functional phone. I don't know where the GPS antenna is located in a typical cell phone, but if there's a way to block it, that would be good. Of course, it may share the same antenna that the phone uses to communicate, so blocking that antenna would render the phone useless.

Also note that even if GPS isn't available, the phone's position can be roughly located (very roughly, this isn't real accurate) through triangulation via the cell towers (again, removing the battery defeats this capability). If 3 towers can "see" your phone, the phone company can estimate your position without the help of GPS. It will be much less accurate, but will give a general idea, probably within 100-200 feet in a "tower-rich" environment.

24 posted on 10/21/2008 5:17:28 PM PDT by meyer (We are all Joe the Plumber)
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To: hellbender

Keys also enable people to open locks without force. Drive a different vehicle or take public transportation.


25 posted on 10/21/2008 7:06:37 PM PDT by stuartcr (Election year.....Who we gonna hate, in '08?)
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To: Centurion2000

I have to go out alone to shop or get exercise. I live in a rural area, and switching cars is really not an option.


26 posted on 10/22/2008 9:06:35 AM PDT by hellbender
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To: stuartcr

Yes, but how do the perps know what key formula to use? There are sophisticated lock-picking devices on the market which are available in disgusting places like “Spy Shops,” where you can also buy “useful” things like books on how to harass people, how to bug people’s homes, even how to poison people. Such publications are not what the Founding Fathers had in mind as protected free speech.


27 posted on 10/22/2008 9:10:22 AM PDT by hellbender
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To: Neidermeyer
GPS trackers are often hidden under the plastic bumper covers as that doesn’t block signal

How can one remove the plastic bumper cover to do a thorough search for these things? I realize they are probably installed just by reaching up and slapping them on where they adhere by magnetism, but...

Theoretically, there are ways of detecting electronic devices planted in your environment, even when they are turned off, but I think it would be hard to make those methods work in a metal-rich environment like a car.

28 posted on 10/22/2008 9:18:13 AM PDT by hellbender
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To: hellbender

I don’t know, they must be very good professionals with sophisticated equipment.


29 posted on 10/22/2008 10:01:34 AM PDT by stuartcr (Election year.....Who we gonna hate, in '08?)
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To: hellbender

Line your garage with copper screen, like they use in RF labs. That should keep the signal from getting out, and only park in metal parking spaces.


30 posted on 10/22/2008 10:04:16 AM PDT by stuartcr (Election year.....Who we gonna hate, in '08?)
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To: stuartcr
Metal parking spaces? You're joking, right? Anyway, it's not the car in the garage which is the problem. With GPS, they can track your car in real time while you drive and watch where you are on a laptop computer screen. Privacy is completely gone today.

There are plenty of people with the required skills and equipment to do this creepy stuff. There were 800 members in the private detectives' assoc. in Balto. MD, and who knows how many non-members. One ex-cop refused to join the association because he was disgusted with their conduct. He said a convicted felon could get a detective's license in MD.

31 posted on 10/22/2008 5:16:13 PM PDT by hellbender
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To: hellbender

The real advantage to the metal spaces, is that you can drive in, being tracked, and drive out in a different vehicle which doesn’t have any tracking devices.


32 posted on 10/23/2008 9:25:17 AM PDT by stuartcr (Election year.....Who we gonna hate, in '08?)
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To: hellbender
Would it be possible to booby trap some of those locks? Not to injure, but to, say, dump a lot of blue dust marker on the culprit's hands and clothing.

You might have to crawl under your car and look around rather than just trying to feel for a device. Then, if you do feel for it, at least you'll see visually that you're hitting every nook and cranny.

Have you ever watched the show Burn Notice on USA? It's completed two seasons now. It's about a spy who got burned and has to figure out who and why. Besides the entertainment, the real benefit is the extensive exposure to and explanations for so much creativity in his profession.

Also, what about counterintelligence? What have you done to find out who has been harrassing you for 29 years and how do you know that they actually are? If anyone can get a detective's license in MD, why not you? Also, consider the time spent on this. No one is going to spend 29 years following you themselves, and probably not one year either. They're going to get very bored, get caught up in routine, and get sloppy. That's a weakness to exploit. Also the number of people involved if they've been switching out over all those years. You would find at least one person to talk.

33 posted on 10/23/2008 10:09:32 AM PDT by Styria
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