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Police Can't Place GPS on Autos without Warrant

pickens (49171) writes | more than 4 years ago

Privacy 0

pickens writes "EFF reports that the Supreme Court of Massachusetts has held in Commonwealth v. Connolly that police may not place GPS tracking devices on cars without first getting a warrant reasoning that the installation of the GPS device was a seizure of the suspect's vehicle. Search and seizure is a legal procedure used in many civil law and common law legal systems whereby police or other authorities and their agents, who suspect that a crime has been committed, do a search of a person's property and confiscate any relevant evidence to the crime. According to the decision "when an electronic surveillance device is installed in a motor vehicle, be it a beeper, radio transmitter, or GPS device, the government's control and use of the defendant's vehicle to track its movements interferes with the defendant's interest in the vehicle notwithstanding that he maintains possession of it." Although the case only protects drivers in Massachusetts, another recent state court case, People v. Weaver in the State of New York, also held that because modern GPS devices are far more powerful than beepers, police must get a warrant to use the trackers, even on cars and people traveling the public roads. "Massachusetts and New York are in the forefront of protecting their citizens' right to location privacy against technological encroachment," writes Jennifer Granick, Civil Liberties Director at the EFF. "Federal courts should do the same under the Fourth Amendment. For the Constitution to have continued relevance in a technological world, it should protect the privacy that individuals reasonably anticipate as we move through the world, and that means no pervasive, remote, suspicionless, wholesale tracking by GPS or other device.""

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