Back in August, we wrote about the (somewhat surprising) appeals court ruling in the District of Columbia circuit saying that longterm GPS tracking
of someone by law enforcement required a warrant. The issues at play here certainly aren't entirely clearcut. After all, it does make sense that when you're in a public space, you have little expectation of privacy. But is that true when it comes to tracking everywhere you go in public? That seems a little more questionable, and it's clearly the part that the court had trouble with, noting that short bursts of surveillance don't require a warrant, but sustained surveillance gets past the expectation of privacy barrier and requires a warrant. While some worry that this is too vague, it does have a certain amount of logic to it.
Either way, the Justice Department wants none of that, and is asking the full circuit to rehear the case and reverse the original ruling, saying that it should not require a warrant
, suggesting that the sum of all our public travel does not deserve any privacy. While I do agree that the initial "rules" are vague, I have to agree that sustained, long-term tracking through a secretly installed GPS devices does seem to cross a line on the "expectation of privacy" spectrum.