GPS Tracking Isn’t Always About GPS Tracking

GPS Tracking Can’t Be This Invasive

GPS Tracking Can’t Be This Invasive.

(last Update 30 April , 2017)

A lot of folks come here to the GPS ROI Tracking Blog searching for answers about legalities and concerns regarding GPS Tracking.

Tracking their cell phones, tracking their cars, tracking their pets or even tracking their spouses.

Some of their concerns are sort of “way out there in Left Field”.  Some of their comments and concerns are very real and very close to home, though.

Truth Is, You Don’t Know Who Might Be Tracking You

There’s a LOT of unauthorized tracking going on out there today … but it’s not always GPS tracking, for sure.

This news here is scary .. and I say “scary’ as a tracking professional who lives, eats and breathes the stuff … I’m a tracking fan not a tracking phobic … and this still scares the dickens out of me

If this doesn’t scare you, it ought to.

Cell Phone Tracking Can Be Much More Invasive Than GPS Tracking

Apple iPhones and 3G iPads running iOS 4 might be tracking their owners’ movements, a new report from O’Reilly Radar claims.

GPS Tracking Can’t Be This InvasiveAlasdair Allan, senior research fellow in astronomy at the University of Exeter, and writer Pete Warden say they have found evidence that the iPhone, 3G iPad, and backups on users’ computers contain detailed location information, including latitude, longitude, and time stamps, that show where the mobile devices have been. In addition, the information is “unencrypted and unprotected, and it’s on any machine you’ve synched with your iOS device,” they claim.

The information is reportedly stored in a file called “consolidated.db.” The writers claim that the information, which isn’t “always exact,” started being collected around the time of the launch of iOS 4 last year. They say that they have found “tens of thousands of data points in this file” that, they believe, were collected via cell-tower triangulation.

The fact that the iPhone or 3G iPad can be tracked isn’t all that surprising. Apple currently offers a free app, Find My iPhone, that lets users track their smartphone from another device. The service is also available to iPad and iPod Touch owners.

However, the claims made by Allan and Warden are a bit different. For one, in their findings, users don’t know that they’re being tracked. Moreover, exactly why that information is reportedly being tracked is unknown at this point. And as they rightly noted, “cell phone companies have always had this data, but it takes a court order to access it.”

Although the alleged findings will raise some red flags in the privacy and security community, it’s worth noting that the information the writers allegedly came across is not being leaked out over the Web.

People who are concerned that their iPhone or iPad is tracking their locations can find out with the help of an application Allan and Warden released, named iPhone Tracker. The open-source application maps all the points of location information saved in the user’s devices.

I ran the application on my computer to find out if my iPhone has been tracking me. It returned a detailed map showing the many places I’ve been with my smartphone.

Read more:

GPS Tracking — Am I Safe?

Well, I’ve mentioned before, time and again, that GPS Tracking, while it certainly does pose privacy concerns in some ways, is way, way less invasive and ubiquitous than simple cell phone multilateration service.

The reason GPS tracking is much “safer”, privacy-wise, is that GPS tracking requires, at the minimum, an application be turned on in your mobile device.

Unless, I guess, you buy the device from Apple.  Then, I am not so sure.

If this doesn’t make you unhappy with Apple, well it really ought to as well.

That’s my professional opinion, not just some “Apple Fan Boy” off on a rant.

I own no Apple devices, and boy am I glad I do not. One reason being that I have observed other, equally as invasive forays into unscrupulous data gathering by Apple in the past.  What they might be still doing, right now, today, I have no idea.

And if you are carrying and Apple device, I would submit, in my personal opinion, neither do you.

Something else that the CNet article doesn’t go into is that these devices are made, tested, packaged and sent directly to the Apple Store (or any other authorized outlets” from Apple’s Shenzhen (Communist) China manufacturing facility.

It Would Be Sooo Easy To Build In Clandestine Reporting

Who else might be tapped in without anyone in the USA knowing about it?

Obviously, not me.  Not you.  And possibly, not even Apple.  Scary.

Stick to GPS Tracking, It’s much less invasive.

Don’t Worry About GPS Tracking You — Worry About Your Cellphone

Don’t Worry About GPS Tracking You

Ever since the day I first started this site ( back on 2004-03-20 … wow has it been that long?) I have been fielding questions about the legality of GPS tracking.

When I first started the site tis question kind of threw me, becuase it’s no secret that I am an unabashed GPS tracking enthusiast.  Heck I earned my primary living at it for many years.

Doesn’t The Fourth Amendment Protect You?

But it’s also no secret that the Fourth Amendment (Illegal Search and Seizure) and other privacy related laws have merit and certainly legal status.  So I’ve learned a lot over the past 12+ years of writing and I’m certainly still learning.  Remembering that I am a layman, not a lawyer, and that none of what I write can be taken as legal advice.  But you can start learning here if this is all somewhat new to you.

There Are Many More Ways To Track Than GPS — All “Tracking” Is NOT GPS

Police, private investigators or just plain members of the general public who want to know your whereabouts, and where you have been and when you were there, may track you using various forms of GPS tracking.

Do they have to meet certain legal requirements to do this?  Yes, but depending upon the state where you reside and many other legal “niceties”, meeting the standards of legality my be easier than you think.  Regards of the law, there are always people who might decide not to bother with the law and track you anyway.

If someone places a hidden GPS tracking device on your car, you may not know about it.  This is a problem which I can’t offer any 100% solutions to.

But Maybe “The Device” Is Already There

But they may not need to place a device on your car.  A device may already BE There.  Example, GM (and Honda’s) OnStar.  Ford and other manufacturers have similar products.  Did you buy one with your last new car?  It pays to read the fine print.

If you bought a used car, there’s also an excellent chance your car has a dealer-installed tracking system, especially if you bought through a “buy here, pay here” dealer.  Could this be legal?  Maybe yes, maybe no, again. what does your sales and financing contract say?

But Maybe “The Device” Is Already On Your Person

But even more pervasive than any of these common methods is your cell phone.  Most modern cell phones, both IOS (Apple) and Android (most other brands) send out your GPS location to our service provider.  Any law enforcement agency can obtain this data with a simple letter request or at most a subpoena from a court.

In most jurisdictions the standards for a location tracki data request are much less restrictive than say the critera for a voice “phone tap”.

A non-law enforcement agency or a private person “snooper” may be able to gain access to the information by various illegal, but often easily done “hacks”.

What You Can Do Abut GPS Cell Phone Tracking Privacy

  • Well first of all, don’t carry a cell phone.  Later on in this article you’ll see why this is good advice, GPS or no GPS.
  • If you do decide carrying a cell phone is worth the risk, then think about one which does not have built in GPS capability.
  • Or you can often disable or lock out the GPS feature in your existing phone.

But alas for your privacy, nothing except the law will stop cell phone’s most pervasive privacy weakness.

Locking or blocking the GPS features of your phone still leaves you highly vulnerable.

Cell Site Location Information (CLSI)

Your cell phone, even the oldest and most basic non-GPS type phones operate in a very defined manner, anywhere, world-wide.

If the cell phone is powered on, it continually searches, silently and automatically, for a signal from the closest cell phone tower or “cell site”.

When it detects a signal, it transmits, also silently and automatically, it’s built-in, unchangeable “protocol” (which means a set of standard procedures ever cell phone and cell phone carrier adheres to, world-wide).

Among other data, your phone _ALWAYS_ sends its IMSI (the International Mobile Subscriber Identity number that identifies a particular subscriber’s SIM card).

So any time your phone is turned on, a cell phone tower and the cell phone carrier that hosts that tower knows your approximate location.  If you are traveling, the phone will continually update with different towers along the way, and thus anyone with access to the carrier’s records will have a rough map of your travel, in what we call “near real time”.

Absolutely no GPS needed.

But There’s More Than CLSI to Worry About

In order to get emergency responders to the location of an emergency situation called in to 911, the FCC requires ALL US cell phone carriers to

Phase II E911 rules require wireless service providers to provide more precise location information; specifically, the latitude and longitude of the caller. This information must be accurate to within 50 to 300 meters depending upon the type of location technology used. “

This means, again, all phones.  How do the carriers know the latitude and longitude of a cell phone without GPS?  They use a technique call multilateration, often called triangulation.  This technique involves various cell phone towers “pinging” your phone (not detectable by you, the user) and then by simple measurements of signal strength and your direction from multiple towers, simple (for a computer) trigonometry the carrier can determine your location within 50 meters (~165 feet).

What can you do to prevent this happening?  Frankly, not a damn thing if your phone is turned on.

Again, absolutely no GPS s required.

Two Other Important Location Privacy Issues

Have you ever heard of a “Tower Dump“?

Basically this mean police or other agencies with at least putative law enforcement status request a report commonly called a “Tower Dump” from all carriers with cell phone towers in range of a specific area at a specific time … typically an hour or two.

This “Dump” report give the requestor a list of all cell phone in range of a specific tower.  Let’s say you go to a rock concert and a crime occurs.

Presto.  If the police have no other means of finding leads to specific suspects, just by going to the event you just made yourself a potential suspect.  Just sitting at their desktop computers the police now have a list of people to begin further invading the privacy of, with virtually no “probably cause”.  Just by carrying a cell phone you have put yourself at a crime scene.  Scary?

Again, absolutely no GPS tracking involved here.

Last But Not Least (for today, anyway).

Stingray (and now a whole army of similar devices know by different trade names).  These are suitcase-size 9or even smaller) “black boxes”, once super secretly built for the NSA and other “black” government agencies which act as a phony cell tower.

They mimic a real tower, your phone innocently connects and presto, who you call, when you call them, what you say or text is instantly available to the Stingray operator.

Not only are these devices routinely used in surveillance vans, it’s highly likely the NSA, FBI (and perhaps other government agencies) have a small fleet of aircraft readily available for dispatch anywhere to orbit over an area of interest while perhaps hearing everything from everyone.

It’s also quite apparent that these aircraft are airborne and listening for somehting and someone almost every day.  An informative and chilling article (with detailed maps) here: America is being watched from above. Government surveillance planes routinely circle over most major cities — but usually take the weekends off.

Help Is On The Horizon

So after nearly two thousand words of b=doom and gloom, is there any help for the average cell phone usuer who doesn’t like to be tracked at will?

Well yes, at least a move in the right direction for privacy, I hope.

Supreme Court Review Fourth Amendment: Warrantless Cell-site Data Collection Unconstitutional

Monday, October 31, 2016 :: Staff infoZine
Cell phone location data, which can provide an incredibly detailed picture of people’s private lives, implicates our Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches, requiring police to obtain a warrant to gain access, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told the Supreme Court.
Weighing in on separate cases where two courts have applied 1970s-era law to digital communications in the information age, EFF urged the nation’s highest court to step in and establish that Americans have the right to expect location data generated from their cell phones is private and protected by the Constitution against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Cell phones constantly connect to cell towers and antennas—which number in the hundreds of thousands—that handle traffic from an estimated 378 million U.S. cell phone accounts. The data generated about these connections, known as cell-site location information (CSLI), create a highly detailed picture of people’s private lives. We carry our cell phones when we leave our homes each day, when we walk into a therapist or lawyer’s office, visit a gun shop, attend a political meeting or sleep at a friend’s. Location information about these private activities is tracked and stored, for years, by cell service providers.

Don't Worry About GPS Tracking YouDefendants in U.S. v. Carpenter and U.S. v. Graham were convicted after police obtained, without warrants, hundreds of days of location data produced by their phones to connect them to crimes. The defendants maintained that the use of CSLI violated their Fourth Amendment rights. But the appeals courts in both cases followed Smith v. Maryland, a Supreme Court decision from 1979, when many Americans used rotary-dial land-line phones. In Smith, the Court said that people who voluntarily give certain information to third-parties—such as banks or the phone company—have no expectation of privacy in this information, and thus the government does not need a warrant to access it.

“Cell phone users don’t voluntarily provide location data to their providers—it happens automatically without their control and is generated whether or not the phone is being used,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch. “Other federal courts and judges in several states have recognized that the so-called ‘third party doctrine’ doesn’t apply to CSLI. It’s time for the Supreme Court to consider whether a decision it made before the existence of commercial cell phones, which are now ubiquitous and reveal our every move, can still be used to override Fourth Amendment protections.”

In 2014, the high court recognized in a unanimous ruling that the astounding amount of sensitive data stored on modern cell phones requires police to obtain a warrant before accessing data on an arrestee’s device. And in a landmark 2012 decision, the court held that GPS tracking is a search under the Fourth Amendment. Yet police are obtaining extensive historic cell-site information without warrants.

“CLSI can give law enforcement far more information about a person’s movement than GPS tracking—cell phones go everywhere their owners go,” said EFF Staff Attorney Andrew Crocker. “If GPS tracking implicates Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights, prolonged cell-site data collection—which provides sensitive details about where we went, who we met with, and what we did—should also be protected against warrantless searches. We’re asking the court to grant review of these important cases and address the Fourth Amendment privacy implications of CSLI.”

EFF filed identical petitions in U.S. v. Carpenter and U.S. v. Graham.

Bottom Line?

If you carry a cell phone, Don’t Worry About GPS Tracking You.

Police Chiefs, Do You Even Care? Your Patrol Officers Are Out Of Control

Patrol Officers Are Out Of Control.

BOSTON —A five-month undercover investigation into the state’s environmental police department exposed officers on the clock, while at home, on the taxpayers’ dime.

Watch the report

On one day, 5 Investigates’ tracked state environmental police Officer Pat Robert as he loaded up a handful of fishing poles and was finally ready to respond for duty after staying at home, on the clock, for the first six hours of his shift.

Video: 5 Investigates GPS devices no longer track environmental police trucks

It’s a troubling pattern we discovered – Massachusetts Environmental Police officers at home during their shifts, their take-home state trucks parked outside.

“It’s a complete waste of taxpayer money,” said a source familiar with how the department works. “Right now it’s a free-for-all. Everybody does whatever they want to do.”

“There’s no accountability. There’s no supervision of any kind whatsoever,” the source added.

Why Are These Officers Even Being Paid?

Patrol Officers Are Out Of Control.The mission of the Massachusetts Environmental Police is to protect the environment and natural resources. They enforce fishing, boating and hunting laws and relocate wayward animals.

But we observed officer Robert at home for hours at a time on multiple days while on duty.

Our cameras also caught him driving well over the speed limit when there was no emergency at all. His destination? Boston Harbor, where he just sat in his truck, then he took a stroll around the North End and eventually landed at headquarters 2 1/2 into his shift.

We also found other officers, including Eamonn Mullaly and Brian St. Pierre, at home on several days during their shifts for an hour or more instead of out on patrol.

“That’s a complete absence of any kind of management oversight,” said Tom Nolan, a criminology professor at Merrimack College and former Boston police lieutenant.

“These are well-compensated people who are in a position of a lot of responsibility and they bear the public trust ultimately,” Nolan said. “And this is violative of the public trust.”

Our investigation also found this perk: Environmental police get paid time and a half by another state agency, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, to work details patrolling state pools and parks. And they are even allowed to split their regular shifts to accommodate the lucrative details in the middle of their work days.

Our cameras captured officer Ian Haskins enjoying an ice cream poolside while working a split-shift, time-and-a-half detail.

Haskins is just one of the many officers taking advantage of that detail perk, some guarding nearly empty pools or just sitting in their trucks outside the pool area.

Legitimate Overtime Is One Thing, Larceny By False Timecards Is Another.

Environmental police officers have been paid almost $1.4 million in overtime and state pool and park details during the past two fiscal years, records show.

“These services are needed, but these services need to be performed during their normal patrol time,” said the source. “There’s not enough to do as it is during their normal patrol time.”

During one of environmental police Sgt. Chris Folan’s patrols, he towed a boat from Lakeville to Hingham and spent the next few hours just hanging around.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s former campaign driver, James McGinn, is the director of the Environmental Police. He did his best to avoid an interview with 5 Investigates, but we finally caught up with him at the end of a recent work day.

We asked him if it is acceptable for one of his officers to be at home for six hours during one shift.

“We’d like to see that and we’ll take action,” McGinn said.

But overall McGinn said he is OK with his officer’s working from home when they’re writing reports or washing their cruisers.

Asked how many hours at home during shift would be acceptable, McGinn said: “It all depends. It all depends what type of report they’re doing. We’re a very unconventional police force.”

Unconventional Police Force?  Yeah I’ll Drink To That, Can I Log My Time In The Bar As Overtime?

5  Investigates also learned that under McGinn’s leadership the department last year removed GPS tracking devices from all environmental police patrol vehicles after being asked to do so by the police officers’ union.

Beginning in 2013, each police truck was equipped with a GPS tracking device called GeoTab, which allowed supervisors to see where their officers’ trucks were at any given time.

“I’m not sure why they would install at taxpayer expense GPS devices to these take-home vehicles and then deactivate them,” Nolan said. “I mean that’s a solid management tool that supervisory personnel can look at and monitor the comings and goings of these officers.

“I would question what the reason was, what the justification was for deactivating those devices,” Nolan added.

We asked McGinn why the GPS tracking system was scrapped.

“It was taken out for a cost-saving measure,” McGinn said. “We can’t use those GPS… we couldn’t just go to a computer and track our officers.”

Records obtained by 5 Investigates show the police officer’s union, Coalition of Public Safety, filed a complaint with the state Department of Labor Relations in 2013 — just days after management first installed the GPS devices.

A year later, the two sides signed an agreement which allowed the department to keep the monitoring devices in the trucks for “fleet management,” “dispatching” and “patrol analysis,” but prohibited “trolling” or going on a “fishing expedition” in the GPS database, looking for violations.

A department spokesman said the union requested the removal of the GPS system in 2015 — after McGinn had been appointed director — and that request was approved.

“It was more of a hands-off approach where there was less accountability, less supervision,” said the source familiar with how the department works. “And you know what they say, when the cat’s away the mice will play.”

The Environmental Police Department has a $10 million budget, so the GPS system was not likely to break the bank. The costs for all the devices was a little more than $11,000 and there was a $2,700 monthly charge for software and monitoring.

This Is Sick, Sick, Sick.  The Union Requests Removal Of The System So The Chief Says, OK, Fine?

I really find this difficult to believe.  Especially because I used to sell, implement and maintain systems made by the GeoTab company, exactly the equipment these folks are talking about.

I know it works and I know what savings can be attained if management just lives up to their responsibilities.

It’s one thing for a state agency to decide, “Oh no, GPS tracking is not for us right now”.  Shortsighted, perhaps, but totally understandable.  Management gets paid to make choices.

But Cheap, Highly Functional Devices Were Already Installed … And They Threw Away Taxpayer’s Dollars TWICE?

You can read more about another troubled police department here: GPS Tracking Watches the Watchers

Here The Officers Already Agreed To Be Monitored

The Agreement signed by management and the union is very clear.  The union agrees that it is management’s right to conduct “fleet management,” “dispatching” and “patrol analysis,” using the GPS system, so I can’t understand the chief’s decision at all.  He can’t complain that the rank and file were “revolting” so he took the system out to maintain workplace relationships.

The rank and file had already agreed to be monitored and the police vehicles were already equipped.  Dumbfounding.

Director McGinn, may I ask if you are familiar with the meaning of the word “malfeasance”?  The definition I use is:

the performance by a public official of an act that is legally unjustified, harmful, or contrary to law; wrongdoing (used especially of an act in violation of a public trust).

What more can I say about the fact that Patrol Officers Are Out Of Control?

GPS And The Mid-Life Crisis — More On Is It Legal to Track Someone’s Car?

Is it legal to track someone’s car?
Funny how I just wrote about what appears to be a lawyer being overcome by mid-life “wrong-headed thinking”, and then across my desk comes this account of a high school principal apparently acting on his urges rather the good sense we would expect he had been teaching his students for years.

Milan High principal accused of tracking car, suspended

Milan High School Principal John “Flipper” Burks has been suspended without pay after he received a criminal summons charging him with electronic tracking of a motor vehicle in Madison County.

Is it legal to track someone's car?According to documents filed in Madison County General Sessions Court, Burks is accused of placing a GPS tracking device on a woman’s car without her or her husband’s knowledge or consent.

On Oct. 12, a witness reported that Burks was seen squatting next to a car and placing his hand underneath the vehicle while it was parked at the LIFT Wellness Center in downtown Jackson. This occurred three times, in mid-September, on Oct. 8 and on Oct. 11, according to court documents.

On Oct. 13, a tracking device was found on the vehicle, which belongs to Susan and Daymon Warren, court documents say. Madison County Sheriff’s Office investigators interviewed the couple, who said they didn’t know the device was there.

A criminal summons on the misdemeanor charge was issued Tuesday, and Burks turned himself in to the Sheriff’s Office, according to court documents.

Burks hasn’t responded to an email requesting comment and did not immediately return a phone call.

Milan Special School District Director of Schools Jonathan Criswell said Burks has been suspended without pay pending the investigation and disposition of the charges made against him.  … Continue reading here

It Is Illegal in Jackson County, Tennessee, That’s For Sure

I get these “is it legal” questions all the time here, and in so many cases it’s really dumb to even ask.

This is one of those really dumb sounding examples.

We all have a reasonably accurate idea of the scope and duties of a high school principal’s job.  One does not have to be a lawyer or a rocket scientist to figure that entering on private property (the wellness center’s parking area), and touching someone else’s private property (the Warren couple’s car) is probably a long, long way outside the job description of any high school principal’s job I’ve ever heard of.  How about you?

You Should Always Seek Competent Legal Advice

But sometimes plain old common sense and the basic principles of ethical behavior that your mom tried to teach you will suffice.  Some things to think about BEFORE you make a move:

  • What’s your motive?  What reason do you have to track another person’s car?  If you think they are up to something criminal, the answer’s easy … put it in the hands of the police.
  • If you think it’s a romantic interest of yours cheating on you, think twice about really wanting to know.  What if you do find them cheating?  And if you suspect and then do not find evidence, is a relationship without trust really worth it?
  • If you suspect something underhanded but perhaps not criminal … like, perhaps a city employee living outside the city and lying about it, then hire a licensed private investigator, and make sure s/he understands rules of evidence … gathering evidence illegally may make the evidence useless.
  • And very importantly, don’t touch someone else’s vehicle without permission.  It’s almost certainly illegal and always wrong.
  • Finally, don’t trespass on private property.  Going onto the parking lot of a clinic for example for illegal purposes is probably a crime even if you never actually place a tracker.

In Short, Act Your Age and Don’t Watch Too Many Crime Shows.

So what are your thoughts?  Is it legal to track someone’s car?

GPS And The Mid-Life Crisis — Is It Legal to Track Someone’s Car?

Is it legal to track someone’s car?

Goodness, how many times have I been asked that question here?

Usually, my standard answer is to consult a lawyer. If you don’t have one in mind, here’s a lawyer who seems well-versed in GPS laws. (or maybe not).

WILLIAMSPORT (PA) — A lawyer in Lycoming County has been accused of illegally placing a tracking device and audio recorder in the vehicle of the South Williamsport woman who had jilted him.

Michael J. Casale Jr. 64, of Williamsport, was charged Thursday by South Williamsport police and released on $25,000 unsecured bail. The arrest affidavit states Casale confessed and told police he knows he committed a crime.

Police said the investigation began March 14 after the woman reported finding a GPS tracking device and audio recorder while cleaning out her car…. Full “Is It Legal” article here:

So, What Was The Charge?

Well if you’re interested and you read the article, you’ll see that several serious charges were levied against the man.

…. Casale is charged with burglary, criminal trespass, interception of communications and criminal attempt to intercept communications…

Where’s the GPS in All This?

Notice that the acronym GPS appears nowhere in the charges.

The police charge he committed burglary (in gaining entry into another’s property), criminal trespass (becuase to place the device he had to have trespassed upon another’s property), and “interception of communications”.

No mention whatever of the GPS tracking aspect of the case … the aspect the reporter and editor chose to write the headline about.  It made a good headline but GPS tracking itself didn’t figure at all in the case.

If You Intercept Private Conversations, You Don’t Need to Worry About “GPS Laws”.

The reason you needn’t worry about specific “GPS Tracking Laws” is that you’ll be violating some other, more serious laws and any “GPS offenses” (should there be any) will likely be the least of your legal worries.

The formal charges all relate to the fact the offender place a “listening device” in the woman’s car … perhaps intending to record her conversations with the new boyfriend.

Trespassing and Eavesdropping are Serious Offenses, With or Without GPS

Here’s a news flash:  I’m not a lawyer, and this is NOT legal advice, but I’m pretty darn sure that placing unauthorized listening devices to capture private conversations is illegal in every state of the union.

I think that’s why even law enforcement agencies have to get warrants from a court of law to eavesdrop on suspected criminals in their homes or offices.

So Is Placing a GPS Tracker On Some Else’s Car Legal in Pennsylvania?

Well froIs it legal to track someone's carm this article, I can’t really say.  One ne thing for sure, the police didn’t choose to charge the offender with any GPS-related offense, if there was one.

The man is in trouble enough with just the charges already levied.  In addition to whatever the court sentences him to, I’m almost certain he faces censure.  Maybe even disbarment by the bar association.

GPS Tracking and Divorce

And notice in the last paragraph, he’s already married.  Hmm, one can only imagine how the news of his arrest affected his wife.  He may well wind up needing a divorce attorney as well.

Can you imagine the conversation between this lawyer and his wife when she finally found out?

I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation, but then again, I’m glad I wasn’t, because that would have been eavesdropping.  Maybe trespass as well 😉

So What Do You Think?

Is it legal to track someone’s car?

Florida Joins the Need a GPS Warrant Club — With a Nautical Twist

Pretty interesting article From Wired here.  Not only is it talking about cell phone data — which I have been preaching for years is way more dangerous to you privacy than GPS data, but it brings up some really scary cell phone technology I wasn’t aware of … STINGRAY.  Ever heard of it?  You’ll want to, read on ..

Cops Need a Warrant to Grab Your Cell Tower Data, Florida Court Rules

The top of a cell phone tower.

The top of a cell phone tower. Getty Images

Americans may have a Florida drug dealer to thank for expanding our right to privacy.

Police departments around the country have been collecting phone metadata from telecoms and using a sophisticated spy tool to track people through their mobile phones—often without obtaining a warrant. But a new ruling out of Florida has curbed the activity in that state, on constitutional grounds. It raises hope among civil liberties advocates that other jurisdictions around the country may follow suit.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that obtaining cell phone location data to track a person’s location or movement in real time constitutes a Fourth Amendment search and therefore requires a court-ordered warrant.

The case specifically involves cell tower data for a convicted drug dealer that police obtained from a telecom without a warrant. But the way the ruling is written (.pdf), it would also cover the use of so-called “stingrays”—sophisticated technology law enforcement agencies use to locate and track people in the field without assistance from telecoms. Agencies around the country, including in Florida, have been using the technology to track suspects—sometimes without obtaining a court order, other times deliberately deceiving judges and defendants about their use of the devices to track suspects, telling judges the information came from “confidential” sources rather than disclose their use of stingrays. The new ruling would require them to obtain a warrant or stop using the devices.

The American Civil Liberties Union calls the Florida ruling “a resounding defense” of the public’s right to privacy.

“Following people’s movements by secretly turning their cell phones into tracking devices can reveal extremely sensitive details of our lives, like where we go to the doctor or psychiatrist, where we spend the night, and who our friends are,” said Nate Freed Wessler, an attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “Police are now on notice that they need to get a warrant from a judge before tracking cell phones, whether using information from the service provider or their own ‘Stingray’ cell phone tracking equipment.”

The ruling constitutes the first time that a state court has reached this finding under the Fourth Amendment. It comes at a timely moment when federal courts of appeal in other jurisdictions are in the midst of taking up the question of cell tower data, Wessler told WIRED. Even if other jurisdictions rule differently, the Florida case makes it more likely that the issue will one day get to the U.S. Supreme Court. If it does, civil liberties advocates hope that the federal court would rule as it did on the use of GPS tracking devices used by police, determining that it constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. Though the court in that case fell short of ruling that the use of GPS devices requires a warrant, law enforcement agencies around the country have changed their practices as a result of the ruling.


Stingrays are equally as invasive as GPS trackers, if not more so since GPS trackers are generally used on vehicles traveling public roads. Stingrays, however, can track the mobile phone wherever it goes—inside an apartment building and even down to the exact apartment where a person resides….

Scary, eh?  Well there’s a lot, lot more to the Stingray problem than the ACLU is talking about.

I’m going to do an extensive study on Stingrays starting next week on my sister sister,   Come over when you have a chance, it ought to be interesting.

Just because people say you’re crazy doesn’t mean they aren’t after you …