Feeds

US Supremes to hear warrantless GPS tracking case

Surveillance in the digital age

High performance access to file storage

The US Supreme Court has agreed to decide if the US Constitution requires police to obtain a search warrant before secretly monitoring location-tracking devices planted on the vehicles of suspects

Monday's agreement to decide whether the Fourth Amendment bars warrantless GPS tracking of criminal suspects came at the urging of the Obama Administration.

In August, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that FBI agents should have obtained a warrant before planting a GPS device on the vehicle of a suspected drug dealer. The ruling, which overturned a lower-court decision, ordered that all GPS evidence presented at trial be thrown out, effectively reversing Jones's conviction.

The outcome of the case could have profound consequences for millions of Americans. The GPS device that was secretly affixed to Jones's Jeep Cherokee allowed agents to track his position every ten seconds for a full month and was accurate to within 100 feet.

The device yielded more than 3,100 pages worth of data, according to documents filed in the case. The case comes as more and more law enforcement agencies are adopting similar surveillance measures.

Police Los Angeles, for example, are outfitted with air guns that can shoot GPS-enabled darts at passing cars, lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union have claimed. They've added that police in Arlington and Fairfax counties near Washington used GPS devices 229 times from 2005 to 2007.

The appeals court ruled that the GPS devices revealed such intimate details about the target that they violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures unless law enforcement officers obtained a court warrant based on probable cause.

“A person who knows all of another's travels can deduce whether he is a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups – and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts,” the three-judge panel wrote in the August opinion.

Prosecutors with the US Justice Department disagreed. In a filing asking the Supreme Court to review the case, they said citizens have no reasonable expectation to privacy in their movements from one place to another. Their application asked that the appeals court decision be overturned.

The case won't be heard until after the start of Supreme Court's new term in October. More from the Freedom to Tinker blog and the ACLU is here and here. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.