• 465
UPDATE: The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that a warrant must be obtained by law enforcement in order to track a suspect via GPS device. GPS tracking was found to constitute a "search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment," therefore violating a suspect's rights when carried out without a proper search warrant.

Many of our readers have expressed concern over the unwarranted use of GPS devices and the 'Big Brother' paranoia such surveillance creates, while others have argued that these tactics could be of great assistance to law enforcement. How do you feel about the Supreme Court ruling? Sound off in comments.


Have you ever been driving along when suddenly you get the sense that you're being followed?

Over-the-counter GPS tracking products are being put into cars by everyone from the FBI to car dealers and finance companies to cuckolded husbands, and wives who suspect their husbands of cheating. Don't get us wrong--we're all for equipping our law enforcement agencies with the latest technology to catch the bad guys, but we also value our constitutional rights to privacy and protection from unreasonable search and seizure. And, frankly, the notion of being unwittingly monitored by anyone with the means to a GPS tracking device and access to your ride is just plain creepy.

We're not the only ones who feel conflicted. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an Obama Administration appeal of the overturned ruling in the case of Antoine Jones. In 2008 Jones was convicted of operating a cocaine ring based on evidence gathered via a GPS device that police used to track his Jeep. A federal appeals court dismissed the conviction, arguing that police had violated Jones' 4th Amendment rights by installing the device without a search warrant. There are similar cases, however, that have upheld evidence gathered during unwarranted GPS tracking on the basis that citizens cannot have a reasonable expectation of privacy when driving or parking their vehicles in public.

Whatever the Supreme Court decides will likely be the final word on warrantless GPS tracking, but in the meantime, if you think your car is being tracked you might want to check for the device in these places:

Are You Being Followed?
  • Are You Being Followed?
  • Do you ever get that feeling that you're being followed? Maybe you are. Everyone from law enforcement to car dealers are using GPS Devices to track people's rides. If you suspect something is up, you might want to check the following places on your vehicle.

  • Image Credit: GARYCRANE, FLICKR
  • Under Your Car
  • Last year, 20-year-old college student Yasir Afifi found this GPS tracking device underneath his car during a routine oil change. The device was affixed by magnet "near the exhaust but further in," according to Afifi's friend who turned to the online community Reddit to identify the device.

    According to Afifi, FBI agents approached him to retrieve the device days after its discovery. Despite being a U.S. citizen, he was apparently under suspicion due to his frequent travels to Egypt and the Middle East, and for being the son of a Muslim community leader.

  • Image Credit: IMGUR via KHALEDTHEGYPSY, REDDIT
  • Under Your Dash
  • Conley Moret owns a car dealership that serves folks with bad or no credit. As part of his sales agreement, Moret equips his vehicles with GPS tracking devices. One of Moret's customers fell behind on their payments and tried to make off with the vehicle without ponying up the money owed. According to a press release from Rocky Mountain Tracking, Moret was able to use a Smart Tracker GPS device purchased from the company to retrieve the stolen vehicle.

    According to RMT's website, "the [Smart Tracker] unit is most commonly mounted under the dash inside the vehicle," but they do sell internal and external waterproof mounts as well. Unlike some of the GPS tracking devices used by law enforcement, the Smart Tracker can be purchased online by anyone for the modest price of $175. That's a bargain for the car dealer or finance company who stand to lose a lot more if a strapped car owner tries to skip on payments. And here's the irony: the price of the tracker is almost certainly dialed into the sticker price.

  • Image Credit: ROCKY MOUNTAIN TRACKING, INC
  • Pretty Much...Anywhere
  • Rocky Mountain Tracking offers another unique GPS device called the Tracking Key. This unit ships with a USB connector which, when plugged into your PC, rebuilds all travel activity and presents them in custom reports and animated map routes. Another nifty feature is the built-in motion detector which extends the life of the AAA batteries which power the unit.

    Best of all--or worst of all, depending on your point of view--the Tracking Key is water resistant and equipped with a powerful magnet, used to mount the unit. In other words: no fussy instillation required. You can be on your way to stalking your prey in less than a day! (Our words, not theirs).

  • Image Credit: ROCKY MOUNTAIN TRACKING, INC
  • What Gives You The Right?
  • All kidding aside, there are many legitimate reasons one might require a GPS tracking device, from parents keeping tabs on their teen drivers to rental car services staying on top of their fleet. But, until the Supreme Court defines what crosses the line, we remain a bit suspicious.

  • Image Credit: SCOTTLENGER, FLICKR


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 465 Comments
      Mark
      • 3 Years Ago
      Can't track the Illegal Immigrants cars........ they're usually stolen!
        djfutbol14
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Mark
        Again a dumb ignorant idiot that is pissed because hard working people "took his job". Stop the hating. They work harder(in honest jobs) for what they have than you and I combined. Stop your hate and your ignorance. Become educated so that you can contribute in sites like this one with useful and educated comments. Not the waste that comes out of your head.
        RUSS
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Mark
        put1 in nanc--y pelo--se
      jimboChiLi
      • 3 Years Ago
      what yaZ all get and I think this is funny story - I don't give it much sand though .
      Marguerite
      • 3 Years Ago
      so much for the anti stalking laws.
      gposner29
      • 3 Years Ago
      Where is George Orwell?
      Daze
      • 3 Years Ago
      and the rule of law is where?! OH yea, under the color of law......this is sickening!
      Megabob
      • 3 Years Ago
      A lot of dealers put these things on cars they sell to people with marginal credit ratings. And if you buy a GM product, they standard items installed at the factories, they are called On-Star. Even if you do not renew the On-Star....it can still be used, and your location can be given to the police, or to repo agents if you miss payments.
      INFRWKSNJ
      • 3 Years Ago
      Big Brother is always watching and totally untrustable.
      connachtmacdein
      • 3 Years Ago
      I grew up in the era of the 60's and 70's, when phones stayed at home attached to the wall. If we could go out with out them then? Why not now. I tend to leave my cell phone at home or turned off < yes there is a OFF button> I do not have to have it turned on or with me 24/7 and in reality neither do you. P.S. Texting and the like is highly rude if you can take the time to text me , you can take the time to make an actual phone call and be respectfull. My phone does not have the ability to send texts for a reason If I want to be online I will wait tillI am at home and use my computer.
      rdfnewport
      • 3 Years Ago
      More important matters in this world going on.............did you happen to hear about the shooting rampage in Seal Beach, CA ?? Once again.....there are far more important things to be worried about .....like someone snapping and losing their wits and killing innocent people....worry about that folks........ not GPS devices.
      • 3 Years Ago
      whatever
      rdfnewport
      • 3 Years Ago
      WHO CARES !!!!
      Herb
      • 3 Years Ago
      Big Brother coming closer everyday,rights being taken away and we keep getting ripped off by big biz and our charming politicians, change a coming
    • Load More Comments