Obviously, Grits thinks a warrant should be required, but frankly a warrant requirement isn't that great a barrier and the case made me wonder about technology to identify such devices. It turns out for $500 bucks you can purchase a device that will locate GPS trackers as well as wiretaps, wireless taps, and even hidden cameras. Ironically, with SCOTUS focused on the use of GPS trackers by the government, the manufacturer is promoting the device to protect against thieves:
Don't Give Thieves Access To Your Personal Information Or PossessionsAs technology improves, I'd expect these device to become even cheaper. Certainly anyone engaged in serious criminal activity with a significant revenue stream can already afford one. But as sophisticated government surveillance methods are turned toward the general public, I wouldn't be surprised to see demand for such devices expand beyond the criminal class. Jason Trahan at the Dallas News recently had a story (Oct. 6, behind the paywall) about the expanded use of electronic tracking and surveillance by law enforcement, which opened:
Being spied on can be more than just embarrassing. Oftentimes, thieves use eavesdropping equipment or "bugs" such as sound amplifying devices for audio surveillance or hidden cameras for video surveillance to find out valuable information about your personal finances and possessions. Your private conversations can give thieves all the information they need to steal your identity, break into your home, or even abduct your children. Protect yourself with the Frequency Finder Bug Detector Pro.
Technology and security have collided in the decade after 9/11.It's little wonder, then, that the manufacturers of the device mentioned above are actually suggesting a business model for people to make money with their product:
The result is an array of eavesdropping tactics, some of which have been used with great success in Dallas terrorism and corruption cases.
Vehicle trackers, wiretapping, cellphone GPS tracking are the updated versions of old-school, but still effective, tactics such as “sneak and peek” operations and simple covert surveillance.
“This stuff can be used to catch bad guys,” said Andrew Blumberg, a University of Texas math professor who studies technology and digital privacy issues.
“But the fact that you can do good things with it doesn’t outweigh the potential for abuse,” he said. “We need to have a national conversation about what’s acceptable,” he said.
That conversation got more complicated recently. This summer came the revelation that spy agencies, which generally do not need court warrants for their work, have also turned their attention stateside. Long prohibited from monitoring U.S. citizens, unless they were working with a foreign power or group, government organizations such as the National Security Agency may be using cellphone data to track more people’s movements here.
“There are certain circumstances where that authority may exist,” was the cryptic answer NSA general counsel Matthew Olsen gave the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in July during his confirmation hearing to head the National Counterterrorism Center.
Olsen was asked to elaborate, but the details are classified. The exchange has stoked the debate on how far the government can go in watching, listening to and monitoring the activities of its bosses: the American people.
Make Up To $900 In 3 Hours Debugging Homes Or Businesses Of Eavesdropping Devices & Hidden CamerasI think they're right that the diminishing arena of personal privacy, particularly in public spaces, over time will create greater demand for "counter-surveillance" devices and services. I could even see auto manufacturers advertising devices that identify GPS trackers as an add-on feature in new vehicles for buyers who place a premium on their personal privacy. If one actually thinks your conversations, location or personal information are valuable enough for someone to engage in electronic surveillance, $500 is a relative bargain to prevent it. Indeed, as government and private-sector use of surveillance technology grows, and as this kind of counter-surveillance technology becomes more common and less expensive, I can see the day coming when these types of devices are as common as burglar alarms or other such security devices.
For every "Bug," "Telephone Tap," "Spy-Cam" and "GPS Tracking Device" that is sold, there are 20 - 30 people out there that are afraid that they are being secretly watched and/or listened to. If you've ever thought about entering one of the most interesting, exciting and extremely lucrative businesses around today, look no further. The Counter Surveillance industry is exploding with opportunity. The universal desire to escape this surreptitious Eavesdropping has now created a fantastic opportunity for individuals and firms that can once again restore this rapidly vanishing privacy. And now you can do it all with this tiny pocket sized device.
The Supreme Court will decide soon whether GPS tracking without a warrant is constitutional. But in the end, it may be the market that decides whether the tactic is viable.