Surveillance Gets A Satellite Assist
Police in many areas are beginning to make use of global positioning system (GPS) devices for surveillance, eavesdropping, and other things. Most GPS tracking devices cost roughly $1,000, but manufacturers say the cost is falling as the market grows; the devices are about the size of a paperback book and can be fastened to the underside of a car with a magnet.
Legal fights have sprung up over whether the police need court permission to use GPS devices in investigations. The devices are substitutes for visual surveillance, and some departments say that this does not need judicial authorization.
No records are available as to how often the devices are used nationally, or by which departments, but court records and interviews show that both local authorities and the FBI have used the devices to fight auto theft, track suspects, and eavesdrop on targets. They read signals from a 24-satellite network and transmit information in a manner similar to a cell phone call.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the USA Today (06/10/04) P. 3A; Willing, Richard .