Alex Goldman is a producer for On the Media. One time he got run over by a car.
Warrantless GPS After US v. Jones
Monday, February 27, 2012 - 03:30 PM
On the Media has followed legal standards around warrantless GPS tracking since October of 2010. In January of this year, the Supreme Court decided a case called US v. Jones, which dealt specifically with this subject. The Supreme Court decision was pretty nuanced, but George Washington University professor and Volokh conspiracy blogger Orin Kerr told us that the decision was a victory for privacy advocates.
If you're worried about privacy, if you're worried about how new technologies threaten privacy, this is a terrific decision. There's not a lot of clarity but there are strong suggestions that the Court would be willing to adopt new privacy protections that we have not yet seen before. And more generally, nine justices of the Supreme Court are worried about privacy, just like a lot of Americans are.
A little over a month later, we are seeing the effects. The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend that in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, the FBI has deactivated about 3,000 GPS devices.
[FBI General Counsel Andrew] Weissmann said that the FBI is now working to develop new guidelines for the use of GPS devices. He said the agency is also working on guidelines to cover the broader implications of the court decision beyond GPS devices.
For instance, he said, agency is now “wrestling” with the legality of whether agents can lift up the lid of a trash can without committing trespass. The majority opinion in U.S. v. Jones held that the agents had trespassed when placing the GPS device on a car without warrant.
He said the agency is also considering the implications of the concurring justices – whose arguments were largely based on the idea that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the totality of their movements, even if those movements are in public.
You can read the entire Wall Street Journal article HERE