Another Court Says Police Don't Violate The Law In Putting A GPS Device On Your Car

from the tracking-you-in-public? dept

We first discussed this issue way back in 2003, wondering whether it was really a violation of privacy for police to put a GPS tracking device on a suspect's car. In 2005, a court said it was perfectly legal, though there were concerns about what this meant. We're seeing the same concerns as another court has ruled the same way. The reasoning and the logic is effectively the same: if you are traveling on public roads, anyone could (theoretically) drive behind you and see where you are going -- even without a warrant. So is it really a violation of privacy if that tracking is done by a little black box attached to your car instead of a big black box with four wheels?

Of course, the flipside to that, is that if you are driving you can also see (for the most part) if there is another car following you and that other car cannot follow you onto private property that you own. A hidden GPS device is quite different on those points. So while the courts seem to be coming down on the side of this not being a violation of privacy, I can definitely see where privacy advocates are troubled by these rulings. The fact that they effectively suggest the police can simply put a hidden GPS device on any car for no reason at all raises plenty of questions -- especially in an era when information can and is regularly abused.
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Filed Under: gps, police, privacy, surveillance


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  1. identicon
    Jake, 12 May 2009 @ 1:56am

    Re:

    Here in the UK the law's somewhat tighter on self-defense, but a plainclothes officer who got roughed up whilst planting one of these things as a result of being mistaken for a car thief would get very little sympathy from the courts nowadays. I doubt the evidence obtained from such a device could even be used in court in this country, since for some bizarre reason even wire-tapping evidence obtained with a warrant is inadmissible.

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