This morning, the Court determined tracking devices constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment, requiring a warrant.
In United States v. Antoine Jones, a nightclub owner was tracked 24 hours a day for weeks, which led police to arrest him on charges of conspiracy to distribute and to posses five or more kilograms of cocaine, and one count of conspiracy. In 2008, Jones was sentenced to life in prison. The Court of Appeals overturned his conviction, citing violation of the Fourth Amendment.
“… the use of longer term GPS monitoring in investigations of most offenses impinges on expectations of privacy. For such offenses, society’s expectation has been that law enforcement agents and others would not—and indeed, in the main, simply could not—secretly monitor and catalogue every single movement of an individual’s car for a very long period.” – Justice Alito in concurring opinion of United States v. Jones.
It seems that freedom advocates can breathe easy (for now).
- Supreme Court says search warrants needed when police use GPS devices to track suspects (philammann.com)
- Supreme Court: Warrant Needed For GPS Tracking (baltimore.cbslocal.com)
- Supreme Court unanimously rules warrants required for GPS tracking (venturebeat.com)
- Warrants Needed For GPS Monitoring (ken_ashford.typepad.com)
- Supreme Court Unanimous – Cops Can’t Put GPS On Cars Without Warrants (dvorak.org)