Supreme Court to review warrantless GPS tracking (Update)

Jun 27, 2011

(AP) -- The Supreme Court will weigh in on an important privacy issue for the digital age: whether the police need a warrant before using a global positioning system device to track a suspect's movements.

The justices said Monday they will hear the Obama administration's appeal of a court ruling that favored a criminal defendant. The federal appeals court in Washington overturned a criminal conviction because the police had no warrant for the GPS device they secretly installed on a man's car.

Other appeals courts have ruled that search warrants aren't necessary for GPS tracking.

The Justice Department argued that warrantless use of GPS devices does not violate the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches. It also said prompt resolution of the divergent court opinions is critically important to law enforcement.

A three-judge panel of Democratic and Republican appointees unanimously threw out the conviction and life sentence of Antoine Jones of Washington, D.C., a nightclub owner convicted of operating a cocaine distribution ring.

Police put the GPS device on Jones' Jeep and tracked his movements for a month. The judges said the prolonged surveillance was a factor in their decision.

The high court directed both sides to address whether a warrant or consent is needed, regardless of how long the surveillance might last.

The government has argued that using a GPS device is no different from a beeper authorities used, with the high court's blessing in 1983, to help track a suspect to his drug lab. The court said then that people on public roads have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

The Justice Department said GPS devices are especially useful in early stages of an investigation, when they can eliminate the use of time-consuming stakeouts as officers seek to gather evidence.

Four other appellate judges in Washington said the entire appeals court should have heard the case, faulting their colleagues for the ruling in favor of Jones.

In another case, from California, a three-judge panel in San Francisco upheld the use of a GPS device without a warrant, saying it was no different from having officers tail a suspect.

That decision provoked a blistering dissent from Judge Alex Kozinski, who said the court handed "the government the power to track the movements of every one of us, every day of our lives."

Explore further: Amazon launches 3D printing store

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Discovery of GPS tracker becomes privacy issue

Oct 17, 2010

(AP) -- Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old computer salesman and community college student, took his car in for an oil change earlier this month and his mechanic spotted an odd wire hanging from the undercarriage.

Court: Judges can demand warrant for cell locales

Sep 07, 2010

(AP) -- Judges have the right to require warrants before police get cell phone records that could suggest a customer's likely location, a U.S. appeals court ruled Tuesday in a novel electronic privacy case.

Court Denies Vonage Bid for Patent Case Retrial

May 04, 2007

A U.S. appeals court denies a request by Internet phone company Vonage Holdings that it order a retrial in the patent infringement case brought against it by Verizon Communications.

Court won't stop hormone replacement lawsuits

Oct 12, 2010

(AP) -- The Supreme Court won't reconsider a decision to reinstate more than 100 lawsuits filed by women who claimed that hormone replacement therapy caused breast cancer.

Appeals court considers ban on stem cell research

Sep 27, 2010

(AP) -- The Obama administration has told an appeals court that a judge's order halting federal funding of stem cell research would result in destruction of valuable biological materials and set back taxpayer-funded work.

Recommended for you

Chinese smartphone makers win as market swells

10 hours ago

Chinese smartphone makers racked up big gains as the global market for Internet-linked handsets grew to record levels in the second quarter, International Data Corp said Tuesday.

Full appeals court upholds labels on meat packages

10 hours ago

(AP)—A federal appeals court has upheld new government rules that require labels on packaged steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat to say where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered.

BlackBerry buys German anti-eavesdropping firm

11 hours ago

Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry announced Tuesday the purchase of German voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping firm Secusmart, whose customers include NATO and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ...

India's Flipkart raises $1 bn to tackle Amazon

13 hours ago

India's top e-commerce company Flipkart said Tuesday it had raised $1 billion (60 billion rupees) in funds as it battles US giant Amazon for supremacy in the hyper-competitive local market.

User comments : 0