[Politech] Nifty surveillance trend: Cops GPS track cars without warrants [priv]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Wed Jan 12 2005 - 21:07:55 PST


By Declan McCullagh
January 12, 2005, 11:00 AM PST

When Robert Moran drove back to his law offices in Rome, N.Y., after a 
plane trip to Arizona in July 2003, he had no idea that a silent 
stowaway was aboard his vehicle: a secret GPS bug implanted without a 
court order by state police.

Police suspected the lawyer of ties to a local Hells Angels Motorcycle 
Club that was selling methamphetamine, and they feared undercover 
officers would not be able to infiltrate the notoriously tight-knit 
group, which has hazing rituals that involve criminal activities. So 
investigators stuck a GPS, or Global Positioning System, bug on Moran's 
car, watched his movements, and arrested him on drug charges a month later.

A federal judge in New York ruled last week that police did not need 
court authorization when tracking Moran from afar. "Law enforcement 
personnel could have conducted a visual surveillance of the vehicle as 
it traveled on the public highways," U.S. District Judge David Hurd 
wrote. "Moran had no expectation of privacy in the whereabouts of his 
vehicle on a public roadway."

Last week's court decision is the latest to grapple with the slippery 
subject of how to reconcile traditional notions of privacy and autonomy 
with increasingly powerful surveillance technology. Once relegated, 
because of their cost, to the realm of what spy agencies could afford, 
GPS tracking devices now are readily available to jealous spouses, 
private investigators and local police departments for just a few 
hundred dollars...

What's raising eyebrows, though, is the increasingly popular law 
enforcement practice of secretly tagging Americans' vehicles without 
adhering to the procedural safeguards and judicial oversight that 
protect the privacy of homes and telephone conversations from police 

[...remainder snipped...]
Politech mailing list
Archived at http://www.politechbot.com/
Moderated by Declan McCullagh (http://www.mccullagh.org/)

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.3 : Wed Jan 12 2005 - 22:08:49 PST