On Fri, Oct 08, 2010 at 11:21:16AM -0400, Perry E. Metzger wrote:
> My question: if someone plants something in your car, isn't it your
> property afterwards?

If you left a wallet in someone's car, isn't it still yours?  And isn't
that so even if you left it there on purpose (e.g., to test a person's
character)?  But this is not the same situation, of course, since the
item left behind is an active device.

If your planting of the device violates the target's rights you might
(or might not) lose ownership of the device, along with other penalties.
The FBI is a state actor though, so the rules that apply in this case
are different than in the case of a tracking device planted by a private
investigator, and those might be different than the rules that would
apply if the device's owner is a private actor not even licensed as a

IOW: ask a lawyer.  But I strongly suspect that the answer in this case
is "the FBI still owns the device", and "the question is not moot" (as
it might be if the device had stopped working then fallen off the car
(e.g., after hitting a number of nasty potholes).  I mean, I seriously
doubt that relevant laws would be written as to grant the subject
ownership of devices planted as part of a legal surveillance of them,
and though it's possible that judge-made law would conclude differently,
I doubt that judges would make such law.


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