FBI shuts off thousands of GPS devices after Supreme Court ruling, now having trouble finding them

A recent US Supreme Court ruling that overturned the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices "has caused a 'sea change' inside the U.S. Justice Department." Following the ruling, the FBI turned off an estimated 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use. But how to locate the little buggers to take them home?

From the WSJ, quoting FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann:

These devices were often stuck underneath cars to track the movements of the car owners. In U.S. v. Jones, the Supreme Court ruled that using a device to track a car owner without a search warrant violated the law.

After the ruling, the FBI had a problem collecting the devices that it had turned off, Mr. Weissmann said. In some cases, he said, the FBI sought court orders to obtain permission to turn the devices on briefly – only in order to locate and retrieve them.


  1. Built by the lowest bidder (LB), installed by the lowest common denominator (LCD), lost by  LULZ.

    Too bad we are all paying to replace these.

  2. Perhaps the FBI could offer a reward to everyone they’ve been (illegally) tracking that returns their bugs?  ;-)

  3. Actually, what they offered to “lucky” (i.e., brown/muslim) citizens who found them half-arsedly placed under their cars was criminal charges if they didn’t return them.  Man, if someone slaps some James Bond shit on my car you better believe it’s mine when I find it.

  4. Turn them back on, retrieve them. 
    The Supreme Court didn’t rule that using a device to track itself without a search warrant violated the law. 

    1. would you allow the government to attach an unknown device of their ownership/design to your car as long as they say: “we’re only doing this to save tax-payer $, trust us” ?

      1.  No, I would not. 
        But if there was one attached to my car, I’d want it removed. 
        Saying “Yeah, but we turned it of.f” isn’t good enough.

  5. Let them stay lost. Serves them right, to lose the money all those GPS units cost, for illegally tracking people.

  6. Why… do they need them back?

    You only need them back if you’re going to use them. And most of them are never going to be used again, because we just made it harder to use them (yay!). You think the FBI is going to go out and get a bunch of warrants now? No, they are not.

    Let them go man, they’re gone.

  7. I think it’d be appropriate for the judge to rule that the Ef Bee……AAYE to have to call up all those they were tracking  and ask for the device back.

  8. Think about this…their record keeping about these units is so poor they have NO IDEA WHERE THEY PUT THEM.
    Of course in their defense, the units used to tell them where they were all the time, so writing down what car you attached it to might have seems silly at the time.
    Could we make it easier if we just had all brown people stop by their local FBI offices to have their cars checked?   /sarc

    FBI agents aren’t allowed to used GPS with turn by turn directions anymore, I fear they would blindly follow the commands and end up turning into a wall or a river…

  9. I found their GPS device under my car, removed it and converted it into a bong.  If the FBI wants it back, they’re gonna have to smoke me out.

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