Skip to comments.Supreme Court says police need warrant for GPS tracking
Posted on 01/23/2012 12:56:21 PM PST by gandalftb
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that police cannot put a GPS device on a suspect's car to track his movements without a warrant.
The high court ruling was a defeat for the Obama administration.
The high court ruled that placement of a device on a vehicle and using it to monitor the vehicle's movements was covered by U.S. constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures of evidence.
A majority of the court acknowledged that advancing technology, like cell phone tracking, gives the government unprecedented ability to collect, store, and analyze an enormous amount of information about our private lives.
Justice Antonin Scalia said attachment of the device by the police was a trespass and an improper intrusion of the kind that would have been considered a search when the Constitution was adopted some 220 years ago.
Alito said in recent years many new devices have emerged that track a person's movements, including video surveillance in some cities, automatic toll collection systems on roads, devices on cars that disclose their location, cell phones and other wireless devices.
"This is an indication that there are justices who are recognizing that privacy norms are shifting but the fact that people's lives take place increasingly online does not mean that society has decided that there's no such thing as privacy anymore," said Joel Reidenberg, a law professor at Fordham University in New York. The Supreme Court case is United States v. Antoine Jones, No. 10-1259.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
Law enforcement, if they have any probable cause, needs to get a warrant. In this case, law enforcement actively placed a transponder on a vehicle and left it there for 6 months.
What about passive tracking by cell phone?
We need some federal rules about wireless tracking, active vs. passive, length of time, etc.
Every victory for personal liberty is worth celebrating!
This should not impede legitimate investigations, just build the case and get the warrant. I think electronic surveillance using cellular or other technologies should follow the same basic rule.
I hate rampant political correctness and protecting the perps more than the victims of crimes, but this decision sets a reasonable and consistent standard.
Therefore, the GPS is a technological improvement on a technique that is constitutional without a warrant.
By contrast, if they had invented an X-Ray machine that could look into cars from afar, that would be a technological improvement on a technique that is unconstitutional unless a warrant is obtained.
Am I missing something?
The GPS can provide more than what can be obtained with a tail.
Plus there is the “physical intrusion in attaching the device”.
Your analogy is accurate, but, the result of that line of reasoning is that the police could monitor the movements of anyone, at any time, without a warrant - for as long as they want.
No chance for abuse there.
The police has always been able to follow anyone anytime for as long as they want, without a warrant...
I don't think so, like what? GPS data is a stream of (location, time) pairs. Exactly what a tail can record. The only potential problem would be obtaining location on private property where aerial surveillance would not penetrate. But in most of those cases the GPS would not either.
Plus there is the physical intrusion in attaching the device.
That is an interesting angle. Will have to read the rulling to see what they say about that.
Does this also mean that they won’t be able to require GPS tracking on new cars to charge you taxes by mile usage?????
I was watching a program yesterday concerning finding a woman’s movements. She had disappeared.
The phone co. required a warrant to allow the police to use the cell tower info in order to triangulate her cell phone.
The police had a heck of a time getting one, took days.
Hmmmm. Excellent question. My guess, money involved? Allowed.
Another way to destroy the economy.
The more votes are allowed to be purchased through a welfare state.....the less money for infrastructure upkeep to keep the economy strong.
Reference my post to MaxMax.
physical intrusion in attaching the device
Bingo. The reason the justices were unanimous was that in order to use the GPS tracker, the police had to “trespass” on private property, namely a privately owned vehicle.
Also, the justices were very concerned that there was no time limit guidelines on the search.
Again, if you have probable cause, get a warrant.
Regarding the phone company, we have a lot of people that get lost out in the mountains. The phone company has greatly speeded up emergency access to cell phone triangulation to less than an hour.
But with technology, they could do it on a wholesale basis. Perhaps we should record everyone’s movements in some grand database - 24 x 7 monitoring. A bit too Orwellian for my tastes. But hey, maybe you need watching.
the govt could save a lot of money if it just posted cameras in all our houses with voice recorders...just think how much info they could get without all that messy police work...
Yes you are missing the fact that the GPS tracking is cheap and easy and, without a need for a warrant, police will use it in many more cases than they would use an officer tailing a car. When they start to use it a lot, they will start to use it on people against whom they have no case just to see what turns up. This is at the cost of freedom from unreasonable search.
I don't think they can, not legally.
Please note that in my original post I differentiated between things that are and are not protected in the constitution. What you suggest would result in an unreasonable search which is protected by the constitution reagrdless of how it's technologically accomplished.