• Jan 23rd 2012 at 2:00PM
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.


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
      • 4 Years Ago
      If you are not breaking the law then you have nothing to worry about! Of course you do not need to have all of your "Gee Whix Devices" in your car to enable such tracking but you all are so addicted to this crap that you are doomed and you are your own worse enemy!
      • 4 Years Ago
      They need to GPS Muammar Gaddafi to find hes cordinates and bomb his ass.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Paranoia Americannia. "TV; "IT"S ELEVEN THIRTY PARENTS--DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR TEENAGERS ARE:" Parent; "Actually, yes, I have a video here of Jimmy now, he is in his back seat of his car at the drive in with,.......OH goodness!!!!"
      • 3 Years Ago
      Your smartphones are also GPS tracking devices. Your phone can be ping'd when it is OFF to determine your GPS location by law enforcement. Only if you remove the battery or wrap the phone in metalic screen mesh can the phone's signal be blocked. In addition, the Apple 'I-phone' series imbeds GPS information into its photos. Newer cars like Mercedes Benz have computers which can be pinged for GPS info by law enforcement when the car has been involved in hit and run accident, for instance, or if it has been stolen, or if you have missed a couple of payments. All new cars since 2005 have data recorders which record the last 30 - 60 seconds of driving conditions - accelerator position, brake position, direction, speed, g-force in 3 axis, steering wheel position. Insurance companies use this information to sort out fault at an accident scene. Welcome to the new world order.
      • 3 Years Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Walt put on one on Gus's car for his brother-in-law Hank...everybody is doing it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Check your cell phone - new vehicle emergency service accessories - Apple was recently alleged to have been monitoring use. Watch NCSI they show U how the gov't can find U....if U aren't doing anything wrong what do U have to worry about. In this age of super technology there R lots of ways to monitor folks activities. .
      • 3 Years Ago
      How about the latest Progressive Insurance commercials where "Flo" tells you about a "nifty little device" which can be installed on your car to "track" your driving habits? When the driver asks Flo, "But what if I 'accidentally' speed occasionally?" Flo says, well its ALL ABOUT DISCOUNTS! Right...... not invasion of privacy for the benefit of corporate profiteering.... Hmmmmmmm
      • 3 Years Ago
      Don't do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Anyone who would put a tracking device on my auto deserves the boredom that they get, unless they like Walmart and Bead shows..LOL
      • 4 Years Ago
      Can't track the Illegal Immigrants cars........ they're usually stolen!
        • 4 Years Ago
        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.
        • 4 Years Ago
        put1 in nanc--y pelo--se
      • 4 Years Ago
      Guys, whatever you allow - government will do. If you're not in the street, you will soon be slaves. Watch and see.
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X