Pull the Other One! EDITORIAL: Police use of GPS tracking devices raises privacy concerns – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun

The Osaka District Court decided in favor of the police in a privacy case that raised questions about whether they have the authority without a warrant to secretly attach global positioning system (GPS) devices to the cars of suspected criminals to…

Source: ajw.asahi.com

This is an interesting case for a number of reasons and I find it all very surprising except that the Japanese seem to think about things slightly differently to Westerners.

The reason most of the world, certainly the parts I’ve spent time in requires a Warrant before anyone is tracked is there to protect everyone’s rights. Privacy is a right if you are not committing a crime. If they are certain someone is committing a crime and obviously Police had reason they were, then they should be able follow whatever procedure is followed in Japan in order to get a Warrant, which would have to be a reasonable cause.

I would have thought that Police who follow someone would have a case thrown out and would be jeopardizing their career if they used tracking technology without official approval.

They said in their defense that it wasn’t that intrusive because it is only accurate to a few hundred meters. I find that really hard to believe and can only assume that the judge and defense didn’t do their homework. Even in the urban canyons of Osaka, accuracy would probably average around 10 meters. It will bounce of buildings and there will be times where the signal may move a few meters, but you would have to be using 1960’s technology to have that poor accuracy and a very cheap system that didn’t have any form of inertia sensors.

I suspect there was more to the decision in favor of the Police in this case and that it has nothing to do with the accuracy of the GPS tracking system. It’s a shame that a story like this could give the wrong impression to people using or considering investing in GPS technology with an average accuracy of a few hundred meters. Would you hop in a Japanese driverless car that had an average awareness of it’s location of a few hundred meters?

Of course you wouldn’t. Do you think that the world renowned Japanese engineers are that far behind in technology that their GPS tracking systems had an accuracy of only a few hundred meters?

There is more to the story than meets the eye and I don’t really care what it is. The fact is that with today’s tracking technology, depending on how important it is to Police that a criminal is tracked (and hopefully legally) so that a conviction may be obtained if wrong doing is proven, then think in terms of well under 10 meters in most cases. Try for yourself with your mobile phone’s GPS. I’m not talking about car navigation here which has a few extra bells and whistles to tell the map that you are probably on the road in places where the mapping is great (not used for driverless cars). I’m talking about just turning on one of the map systems that come with your mobile phone, standing outside.

Let me know how accurate it was. Note that it will not be super accurate if you are inside a building, depending on windows and the direction you are facing, but outside, reasonably well away from large glass and metal buildings, I think you will consistently find it is pretty close to accurate. I often use it when walking to meetings in cities I don’t know very well, just following my dot on a map. I couldn’t do that if accuracy wasn’t pretty close. I rest my case your honors.

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About Luigi Cappel

Writer for hire, marketing consultant specialising in Location Based Services. Futurist and Public Speaker Auckland, New Zealand
This entry was posted in Crime, GPS, GPS Nav, GPS Tracking, people tracking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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