Can computer manufacturers track the computer with GPS
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Yes, most of the newer devices could be tracked if one knew detailed info on the device. A factory would know that data. I had a relative that had many patents on phone and gps and knows a great deal on the inner workings of many devices. He and a I suppose hackers and OEM's could do things like turn on gps and recover hardware.
I'd assume that a court order would be required for most legal issues.
There are many people who install software to recover their systems. One of them happened to a girl in town who used her phone to find her computer. She met the police at a location. They requested her data and obtained a warrant to search a truck. The truck was stolen and stuff inside belonged to her and others. The police would not have been allowed to search the car without a warrant and make any arrest work. We do have a big market for criminal lawyers. They get paid to get crooks off. I mean a fair day in court.
Cellphones and tablets are embedded devices and that makes a difference. Their OS is installed and initiated in the production line because their 'hard drive' is a flash memory chip that's soldered directly to the motherboard.
In Laptops and Desktops, the OS is installed at a later point and only initiated by the end user. Wifi and GPS cards also need firmware that is loaded at bootup. They won't be functional on a machine that hasn't been booted up yet.
So it is unlikely that a laptop that is stolen while being shipped from a factory could be detected in the same way that a tablet or cellphone could.
Once an end user has received and activated their device, there are methods for tracing and recovery. But for laptops and desktops, this often relies on software that the end user installs, together with a premium service that they must pay for.
there's nothing paranoid about worrying that we now live in a society where our every move is tracked.
Actually yes, it is paranoid. Tracking you will only occur if there is a reason to do so, just because tracking everyone all the time for no good reason is simply to expensive. According to this slightly older article there were 1.3 million activated Android devices per day September last year, if you see the growth rate by now it should be far more. To track you all the time (and keeping in mind the speed of modern transportation systems) you need to have a reasonable resolution in time to make tracking somewhat reliable, lets be generous and say tracking occurs once every 20 minutes, 3 times per hour, 78 times a day. This would mean that there are only for the devices activated on one day there are 93.6 million entries in a database for that exact day, 34.164 billion entries a year for only the devices activated at that same day. Now count in the devices activated at the next day and the day after that, ... .
You would need a pretty gigantic server farm to manage that.
It is not viable (read: simply to expensive) to track all people all the time. So tracking is only done when it is necessary (or a warrant exists that says to do so, in countries were a warrant for tracking people is needed).
Distribution: Debian Sid AMD64, Raspbian Wheezy, various VMs
As I already mentioned users of apple devices were tracked constantly by Apple. Of course, Apple didn't really want the data so probably didn't take it off the devices but it proves it's perfectly possible.
Service providers already keep records of which phone connected to which cell[s] when and it wouldn't take much more room to add GPS coordinates if this isn't been done already.
It may be extremely unlikely that one entity could keep track of every Android device that exists in real time but that isn't how these things work.
Cellphones and tablets are embedded devices and that makes a difference.
and I agree. All this hoopla over embedded devices.
Any provider within the Jurisdiction of any US Federal Court can be forced to cough up every thing about you. </shock>
DMCA Title II, the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act ("OCILLA"), creates a safe harbor for online service providers (OSPs, including ISPs) against copyright infringement liability, provided they meet specific requirements. OSPs must adhere to and qualify for certain prescribed safe harbor guidelines and promptly block access to alleged infringing material (or remove such material from their systems) when they receive notification of an infringement claim from a copyright holder or the copyright holder's agent. OCILLA also includes a counternotification provision that offers OSPs a safe harbor from liability to their users when users claim that the material in question is not, in fact, infringing. OCILLA also facilitates issuing of subpoenas against OSPs to provide their users' identity.