Skip to comments.Justices Rein In Police on GPS Trackers (Supreme Court)
Posted on 01/24/2012 9:34:32 AM PST by marktwain
WASHINGTONThe Supreme Court ruled Monday that police violated the Constitution when they attached a Global Positioning System tracker to a suspect's vehicle without a valid search warrant, voting unanimously in one of the first major cases to test privacy rights in the digital era.
The decision offered a glimpse of how the court may address the flood of privacy cases expected in coming years over issues such as cellphones, email and online documents. But the justices split 5-4 over the reasoning, suggesting that differences remain over how to apply age-old principles prohibiting "unreasonable searches."
The minority pushed for a more sweeping declaration that installing the GPS tracker not only trespassed on private property but violated the suspect's "reasonable expectation of privacy" by monitoring his movements for a month. The majority said it wasn't necessary to go that far, because the act of putting the tracker on the car invaded the suspect's property in the same way that a home search would.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Too bad common sense didn’t apply in Kelo v. New London. This decision goes on and on about the sanctity of personal property. Kelo says the government can take your property and give it to somebody else if they will pay higher taxes on it.
It will be interesting to see how this ruling affects ongoing cases. Will the evidence gathered during actual surveillance be thrown out because some of the surveillance was conducted using a warrantless tracker? One would have to weigh the the basic idea that visual surveillance is open field, against the assistance a tracker give law enforcement. You don't have to get into the field until you detect movement. It will take while for all this to shake out since many cases take years to build.
I can see it now...a “suspect” finds one of these trackers on his car and smashes it to bits, only to be charged with destruction of police property.
You're not destroying it, just corrupting their data. Imagine their faces when they see you made hundreds of stops over the period of days or better yet, found on a transit train and riding where cars cannot go!
I’m not sure I understand the reasoning of this case. The location of your car is public information. Even when you drive into your garage, your neighbors see it. Everyone on the street around you sees it.
Does this mean the police cannot trail a car without a search warrant? Seems to me you cannot distinguish the two situations. The only difference is expense. And that is not a constitutional basis for decision.
No the most clever idea. Smashing it only lets them know you have found it.
Find the tracker, rent a car. You go where you want to in the rented car. Have an accomplice drive your tracked car to choir practice one night, volunteer work at a homeless shelter the next, AA meeting the third night, etc. Keep a record and when you come to trial have your attorney ask the police where they tracked you to...
The location of your car might in some sense be public information while your car is either on a public right of way, or in a place which is visible from a public right of way. Not all vehicles spend 24 hours a day within view of public rights of way.