Oregon Restricts GPS Tracking Device Use

There is a new crime in Oregon.

Senate Bill 483 has turned secretly placing a GPS tracking device on a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner into a felony offense for convicted stalkers or anyone who violates a restraining order to commit the crime.

For everyone else, except police with a warrant, a maximum fine of $6,250 and/or up to a year in jail applies to anyone who doesn’t have a vehicle owner’s permission to fit it with a GPS device.

Oregon is not the only state with a law like this on the books: section 637.7 of the California Penal Code uses similar language when defining this misdemeanor crime, but not many other States have taken this step.

This practice was already ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2012, but the ruling was generally interpreted as only applying to law enforcement. The laws at the state level are now starting to catch up to technology and how it is used.

Private investigators and police without a warrant will have a tougher time tracking people’s movements in states with these laws, which is either great or terrible depending on your perspective. The continued spreading of these laws serve to strengthen the right to privacy in an age where that is an increasingly rare commodity by making unwanted and unwarranted intrusions illegal. Having a common understanding of individual rights is important to guarding against violations – we’ll see if the trend continues.

The new law will take effect on January 1, 2018.