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The Morning Brew: Tracking devices are becoming a thing

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Tracking devices are becoming a thing 


For years the cloak and dagger shenanigans like putting tracking devices on cars was something you only saw in movies, or bad network TV adventure shows. 

But they have become increasingly more commonplace. An Oklahoma state legislator found that out the hard way when he found a tracking device on his truck.

MOORE — State Rep. Mark McBride had been told that he was being followed and he once saw somebody behind his home.

He said he already had alerted authorities about those concerns. And then, at a friend's urging, he decided last month to look underneath his truck.

There, he found a high-tech electronic tracking device.

"It was scary," he said Tuesday. "We already knew something was going on. We already had some things that were suspicious that happened. And, then, that."


It's bizarre, and if you're McBride more than a little creepy. But the reality is anyone can get their hands on the devices these days. A simple Amazon search yielded multiple units for around $40. Higher end models can be had for around $100 at websites that specialize in what is usually billed as a security tool. Even Walmart sells them. 

But they also raise legal and privacy concerns. Arizona now requires a warrant for law enforcement agencies to use them in tracking criminals. 

Police cannot put a GPS device onto a vehicle to track its movements without first getting a warrant, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

In a precedent-setting decision, a majority of the justices said people in vehicles have a “reasonable expectation” of privacy. That includes being able to travel where they want without government monitoring.
And while people drive on public roads, Chief Justice Scott Bales said that is quite different than using technology to track someone, in this case for 31 hours.


Related: 

Would you use a GPS device to track your child?


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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›

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