The US government is claiming that authorities do not need court warrants to affix GPS devices to vehicles to monitor their every move. t's been more than a year since a Supreme Court decision established that affixing a GPS tracking device to a vehicle constitutes a search under the constitution.
The decision, United States vs. Jones, throws out the drug-related conviction of nightclub owner Antoine Jones.
The GPS locator was installed the day after the warrant expired and while the vehicle was outside of the department's jurisdiction, and DC police tracked Jones for nearly a month after installation before arresting him.
"Requiring a warrant and probable cause before officers may attach a GPS device to a vehicle, which is inherently mobile and may no longer be at the location observed when the warrant is obtained, would seriously impede the government's ability to investigate drug trafficking, terrorism, and other crimes. Law enforcement officers could not use GPS devices to gather information to establish probable cause, which is often the most productive use of such devices. Thus, the balancing of law enforcement interests with the minimally intrusive nature of GPS installation and monitoring makes clear that a showing of reasonable suspicion suffices to permit use of a ‘slap-on' device like that used in this case."
Shortly after a 2010 Rite Aid heist, officers tracked the Dodge Caravan and arrested the brothers. Inside the vehicle, they discovered the pharmacy’s surveillance system and drugs in the vehicle that was monitored for 48 hours with a GPS device, Wired reported.
Privacy and civil rights advocates are siding with the Katzin brothers, arguing that GPS tracking is a powerful technology that allows for persistent surveillance and thus needs to be used with caution and oversight.