Court-Ordered GPS Ankle Bracelets Can Eavesdrop on Their Wearers

Saturday, October 26, 2013
Lindsay Lohan with ankle monitor

Ankle bracelets featuring GPS tracking technology can do more than allow authorities to follow the whereabouts of criminals ordered to wear them. They also can be used to eavesdrop on conversations without the wearer knowing what’s going on.


In Puerto Rico, defense lawyer Fermín L. Arraiza-Navas learned about the bracelet’s expanded surveillance capabilities after meeting with clients fitted with the technology. He told the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Reporting (CPIPR) that clients noticed the bracelets would vibrate when having conversations with lawyers and others.


One client said authorities spoke to him through a hidden phone feature included in the bracelets, which are manufactured by a Utah-based company, SecureAlert.


The eavesdropping discovery has raised concerns not only among defense lawyers, but also civil libertarians who point out the government could conduct warrantless spying with the bracelets.


Puerto Rico Constitutional legal expert Carlos E. Ramos, who teaches at the Interamerican University Law School, told CPIPR that “the state [efforts] to listen and/or record the unauthorized conversations between a defendant with his or her lawyer through an electronic GPS-bracelet represents the most absolute and gross infringement to that person's constitutional rights.”


“If that action is conducted through a private company, the infringement is magnified,” Ramos added.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Caution: Your GPS Ankle Bracelet Is Listening (by Waldo D. Covas Quevedo, Crime Report)

Parolees, Taking Advantage of Overcrowded Jails, Are Ditching GPS Tracking (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)          


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