GPS tracking device smartassery at its finest.

The battle over whether or not law enforcement agencies can legally use a GPS tracking device to monitor your activities is still raging in the US court system. Right now animal rights and environmental activists are being surveilled with these devices; it's only a matter of time before cypherpunks who have come in from the cold, lawyers, and privacy and anonymity advocates come under the watchful eye of Big Brother for exercising their First Amendment Rights. To complicate matters, lower courts scattered around the United States all have different opinions on the practice, so a few are hoping that the …

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So, what exactly should you do?

Earlier today while prowling around in my RSS feed reader I came across this thread on Reddit, and I've been pondering what I would do were I in a similar situation. The original poster brought to Reddit a tale of a strange device found in the undercarriage of his friend's car, near the exhaust system but farther toward the center of the vehicle (if I interpret his description correctly). The mechanic didn't know what to make of it but some research showed that it was a GPS tracking device manufactured for federal law enforcement agencies by a company called Cobham …

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The walls are closing in.

Every couple of days - usually on the weekends - I force myself to go on a media fast. If I can get away with it, I don't watch television, I don't look at my RSS feed reader, and I don't let myself get wrapped up in the newswires. These days it's about the only thing that lets me get a good night's sleep on the weekends and makes my blood pressure managable. I'm pretty much a desk jockey these days so that's about the only exercise I get, but that's beside the point.

Many years ago, during the early time of …

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Saloncon, unashamed gamers, and a beacon in your pocket.

Word has come down from the state of New Jersey that Saloncon, the first known neo-victorian convention in the United States, is no more. Following the tribulations of 2009, including the economy floating upside down in its fishbowl, the organizers are not able to set the wheels in motion for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, the organizers have branched out in new directions in their personal lives and do not have the time or energy right now to put on a convention as a result. saloncon will certainly be missed; I know I shall miss the yearly trek to …

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Just when you thought keeping tabs on your kids couldn't get any more creepy.

Taser has become one of the more notorious companies in the United States. Best known for it's (technically) non-lethal electrostun weapons, the name of which has become synonymous for most any stunner, they've recently gotten into the mobile surveillance market with a product they call Protector. This product is actually an app which you install in your kid's mobile phone; it lets you keep an eye on all of the phone numbers which are called or place calls to the phone as well as giving access to all text messages sent or received. Certain numbers can be blacklisted by the …

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Following someone around isn't that easy.

Like many people today, I have a GPS (Global Positioning System) navigation system mounted semipermanantly in my car to help me get around when I'm out and about. Every once in a while, however, I find myself being asked a rather curious question to which I haven't really put together a rehearsed answer. That question is this: "If you're so consciencious about your privacy, why do you have a GPS unit in your car? Aren't you worried that you'll be tracked wherever you go by your GPS?"

The short and simple answer to that question is, "No, I'm not concerned …

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High school freshmen pick their college majors; students, parents puzzled.

High school freshmen in Englewood, New Jersey will begin a puzzling new programme this fall, which will require them to pick their majors in college their freshman year, an act that will then dictate their primary classes and electives for the next four years. The programme was begun as an experimental effort to prop up falling test scores and help the students focus upon their eventual goals (aside from getting the hell out of high school, which is everyone's imperative at that age). Not all of the parents are convinced that it's a good idea, and that it smacks too …

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RFID dust?!

The Hitachi corporation has come out with a new generation of RFID tags, and get this: They're about as large around as a human hair and 5 microns thick. In fact, they're unobtrusive to the tune of 0.05mm by 0.0.05mm in size. They're calling it RFID dust, and it's an order of magnetude smaller than the smallest RFID chips that Hitachi has on the market, the so-called mu-chips, which are only 0.4mm on a side. RFID dust doesn't have a lot of storage capacity, at most 128 bits of data, but they're so tiny, they could …

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Police can legally hide tracking devices on your vehicle, thus sayeth the court system.

The Seventh Circuit of the US Court of Appeals has decided that it does not violate any of your rights for police to place a GPS tracking unit on your vehicle if they have probable cause. The case in question has to do with someone whose car was tagged with a locator beacon by the police because they thought that he was up to something. He says that it violated his fourth amendment right to freedom from unwarranted search and seizure. The thing is, it wasn't a search or a seizure. In fact, I'd say it was no different from …

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