The ACLU of the National Capital Area and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have submitted an amicus brief (pdf) in a DC Circuit Court of Appeals case where prosecutors used evidence gathered via a GPS device that was installed on a defendant’s car though police did not have a warrant to install the tracking device. (Read my previous posts to learn more about location tracking and how it’s being used by worried parents, suspicious spouses, violent stalkers, or even car dealerships to surreptitiously follow individuals.)
The civil liberties groups argue:
GPS technology provides police with a powerful and inexpensive method to remotely track in great detail the movements of individuals by foot or by automobile, over an extensive period, and across public and private areas. Without a warrant requirement, an individual’s every movement could be subject to remote monitoring, and permanent recording, at the sole discretion of any police officer.
Neither the Supreme Court nor this Circuit has ever decided whether the
warrantless use of GPS tracking technology is constitutional. […]
GPS tracking (1) does not merely augment the senses of police officers, but provides a complete technological replacement for human surveillance; (2) enables twenty-four hour a day “dragnet” surveillance at nominal cost; (3) enables police to track vehicles or persons in private places as well as on public roads; and (4) enables the simultaneous surveillance of essentially unlimited numbers of people. […]
[T]he Supreme Court has recognized that a Fourth Amendment search may occur through the use of advanced technology to reveal detailed and personal information about individuals. These characteristics apply to GPS tracking, and a warrant should therefore be required for its unconsented use.