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Surveillance state located
February 26, 2012 8:42 AM   Subscribe

FBI General Counsel reveals that around 3,000 warrantless GPS trackers were removed after the ruling in U.S v. Jones clarified their illegality (judgement PDF) (previous FPP). The ruling that a mosaic of surveillance technologies may form an issue when considered individually and the FBI's view of likely future judgements on the matter is particularly interesting in the light of the forthcoming cert/standing findings regarding warrantless eavesdropping.
posted by jaduncan (20 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
It just exasperates me that the folks who pledge to uphold the law look for any loophole to get around the spirit of the law.
posted by sammyo at 9:03 AM on February 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


It just exasperates me that the folks who pledge to uphold the law look for any loophole to get around the spirit of the law.

I'm pretty sure citizens in an agora many many moons ago were saying the exact same thing. Some things change, some things DON'T.
posted by Fizz at 9:12 AM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the article: "He said the agency is also considering the implications of the concurring justices – whose arguments were largely based on the idea that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the totality of their movements, even if those movements are in public."

Can anyone say more about this idea, legally speaking?
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:16 AM on February 26, 2012


You guys seem to have forgotten the Totalitarian Principle, "Everything not forbidden is compulsory." But that was intended to refer to particle physics. Just be glad US v. Jones didn't go the other way, or personal GPS trackers would be compulsory for everyone.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:21 AM on February 26, 2012


There isn't nearly such a police state mentality in countries without the prison–industrial complex to profit from increased incarceration, near slave labor of prisoners, selling cop toys, etc., Fizz.  You should permit unions other than only police unions as well.

There has always been an unpleasant trend towards authoritarianism in French government, and a pleasant trend towards unions, but the gendarmerie are not permitted to unionize. And obviously they wouldn't waste money on nuddy scanners like the TSA.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:32 AM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


...personal GPS trackers would be compulsory...

That's actually de facto if you use any google app on your smartphone...
posted by sammyo at 9:34 AM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's actually de facto if you use any google app on your smartphone...

...unless you don't check the explicit 'send location back to Google' checkbox?
posted by jaduncan at 9:41 AM on February 26, 2012


From the article: "He said the agency is also considering the implications of the concurring justices – whose arguments were largely based on the idea that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the totality of their movements, even if those movements are in public."

Can anyone say more about this idea, legally speaking?
Basically, the circuit court held that the search in Jones violated the fourth amendment because repeated of a single person, each of which individually did not violate a reasonable expectation of privacy (because, e.g., the person was on a public street where anyone who might care to look could see him), could in the aggregate violate the fourth amendment.

The Supreme Court majority opinion went in a very different direction. It held that placing the GPS device in the first place violated the fourth amendment because it was a trespass. However, the Supreme Court concurring opinion echoed the circuit court opinion.

So today the law of the land is that committing a trespass in order to effect observation of a person is a fourth amendment violation, but it is known that there is at least some sympathy in the Supreme Court for the idea that even if there was no trespass, repeated observation of the same person could give rise to a fourth amendment violation in the aggregate.
posted by planet at 9:44 AM on February 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


...repeated observation of the same person could give rise to a fourth amendment violation in the aggregate.

Interesting, that ties into my google/quip/snark, will that legal theme have an impact on the analysis of online traffic? Many of my movements could be tracked quite well from my maps queries.
posted by sammyo at 9:53 AM on February 26, 2012


Good question. It won't if you've voluntarily shared the information, I'd imagine. Hence the importance of the checkbox.
posted by jaduncan at 10:56 AM on February 26, 2012


Can they still drive around behind you?
posted by pracowity at 11:12 AM on February 26, 2012


Can they still drive around behind you?

Afaik, yes. The critical difference is that the automation allows a measure of invasion that would not be feasible if the state had to pay officers to follow someone around all day. It's a small enough distinction that I'm surprised the court recognized it.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:46 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Placing an actual number on the quantity of GPS really reveals just how cheap and easy it was for the FBI to place these devices. There were 3,000 of those fuckers out there! Yeah, pretty obvious that this technology was being abused and would continue to be abused more and more. I'm really impressed with Supreme Court on this ruling.
posted by quadog at 2:08 PM on February 26, 2012


If you're a law enforcement officer worried about how to track your suspect without the initial trespass of placing a GPS tracker, you might be feeling pretty good that Obama just signed the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act of 2012, which "mandates that the FAA begin allowing the use of small drones (under 4.4 pounds) by law enforcement within 90 days".
posted by jjwiseman at 4:02 PM on February 26, 2012


For instance, he said, agency is now “wrestling” with the legality of whether agents can lift up the lid of a trash can without committing trespass.

Mr. Weissmann then removed his dark sport coat, removed and reapplied his J. Press tie as a headband and ripped the lemon yellow Turnbull & Asser dress shirt from his heavily muscled and oiled chest and yelled "Brrrring it Oooon! Oh yeah!"

Several members of Weissmann's "posse" wearing khakis and blue Bureau polo shirts arrived to great fanfare and spotlights in the courtroom in order to "get" Mr. Weissmann's "back."

Assorted trash cans were still in the staging area protecting Title 7, Chapter 30, Sec. 30.01 of the penal code "Burglary and Criminal Trespass" who was engaged in a backstage interview with "Mean" Gene Okerlund, "trash" talking Weissmann and bad-mouthing the FBI in general.

"They don't have the chops to take me!" Title 7, Chapter 30, Sec. 30.01 said. "Woooo! The only way you get to stay #1 is to be #1. And Title 7 is the #1 title! The only Title that matters in Legal World Wrestling! And I will take any agency that steps into the ring with me. For the FBIs, and CIAs, and NSAs of the world - listen closely Mr.Weissmann! Whoever loses in that courtroom tonight has to shave their head. You understand me UnWise-man? Wooooo!"

Stay tuned for more on this exciting upcoming legal battle!
posted by Smedleyman at 4:06 PM on February 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Placing an actual number on the quantity of GPS really reveals just how cheap and easy it was for the FBI to place these devices. There were 3,000 of those fuckers out there!

My first reaction was "what about the rest of the warrantless trackers? Did they find a legal excuse for those or did they just refuse to remove them?"
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:14 PM on February 26, 2012


4.4 lbs? Oh dear, it's the one world government at it again.
posted by jepler at 6:34 PM on February 26, 2012


4.4 lbs? Oh dear, it's the one world government at it again.

I'm pretty sure the one world government would have gone with 2kg just to rub it in.
posted by srboisvert at 12:07 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


White House, NSA weigh cybersecurity, personal privacy
posted by homunculus at 1:39 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


For Sale: Internet Spying Business Developed For Gaddafi
posted by jeffburdges at 2:11 PM on March 9, 2012


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