SCOTUS GPS Ruling

This is a discussion on SCOTUS GPS Ruling within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police must obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS tracker to a suspect's vehicle, voting unanimously in one of ...

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    Exclamation SCOTUS GPS Ruling

    WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police must obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS tracker to a suspect's vehicle, voting unanimously in one of the first major cases to test constitutional privacy rights in the digital age.
    More here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...LEFTTopStories

    The government argued that attaching the tiny device to a car's undercarriage was too trivial a violation of property rights to matter, and that no one who drove in public streets could expect his movements to go unmonitored. Thus, the technique was "reasonable," meaning that police were free to employ it for any reason without first justifying it to a magistrate, the government said.
    The court split 5-4 over the reasoning behind Monday's decision, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority that as conceived in the 18th century, the Fourth Amendment's protection of "persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" would extend to private property such as an automobile. Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor joined the Scalia opinion.
    In a surprising departure, Justice Samuel Alito split from fellow conservatives. He held that the search violated not merely property rights, but an individual's "reasonable expectation of privacy"—the test the court has used since 1967, when it held that warrants were required before police could wiretap a call made from a public telephone booth because "the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places." Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined Justice Alito's concurring opinion.
    An interesting alignment of justices for the opinions and the significance of the "property and privacy distinctions".

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    Senior Member Array Lotus222's Avatar
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    This is great news. I'm a little shocked that the justices ruled this way. Then again, when you ask the justices if their cars can be monitored by GPS without a warrant, you can see why they decided as they did. Slight victory for individual freedoms in this technology expanding and big brother infested world.

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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    It is a step in the right direction.
    I imagine in the not too distant future we are going to be talking about facial recognition software and cameras in public places and then tracking through traffic cameras with character recognition software to track your license plate.
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    Member Array Dave James's Avatar
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    This may just be one of the better decisions, and may give the "Feds" and "NYPD" some thing to think about , in using the body scan for weapons on the general public

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    Seems reasonable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave James View Post
    This may just be one of the better decisions, and may give the "Feds" and "NYPD" some thing to think about , in using the body scan for weapons on the general public
    Indeed. I really don't see any way that body scan can get by the "ordinary sight" test. It's a search, and thus requires a warrant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcp1810 View Post
    It is a step in the right direction.
    I imagine in the not too distant future we are going to be talking about facial recognition software and cameras in public places and then tracking through traffic cameras with character recognition software to track your license plate.
    I suspect the Court would allow those things provided that the cameras are only viewing public spaces like roads and sidewalks. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in those areas, and the information being obtained (your plate number and your appearance) are readily visible. The "ordinary sight" test would seem to cover these.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattInFla View Post
    I suspect the Court would allow those things provided that the cameras are only viewing public spaces like roads and sidewalks. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in those areas, and the information being obtained (your plate number and your appearance) are readily visible. The "ordinary sight" test would seem to cover these.
    When it comes to xray video technology I beg to differ on the expectation of privacy. Even in public, I still expect the contents of my bag, pockets, or concealed in clothing, etc to be private and not known.


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    Quote Originally Posted by noway2 View Post
    When it comes to xray video technology I beg to differ on the expectation of privacy. Even in public, I still expect the contents of my bag, pockets, or concealed in clothing, etc to be private and not known.


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    Indeed, but the post I was answering referred to visual facial recognition and license plate recognition using visible light.

    Detecting things that can be seen with the proverbial "ordinary sight".

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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattInFla View Post
    I suspect the Court would allow those things provided that the cameras are only viewing public spaces like roads and sidewalks. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in those areas, and the information being obtained (your plate number and your appearance) are readily visible. The "ordinary sight" test would seem to cover these.
    But the same argument could be applied to the GPS units. In fact I think it was. The question I forsee is whether the use of automated systems instead of human operators changes things. The police can follow you on foot, in a car, or a with helicopter without a warrant and obtain the same information they would with the GPS units. Would the court say that just because humans viewing the take from traffic cameras could, in theory, track your movements across a city that it is also reasonable to allow them to have a computer do it?
    I think we are seeing some push back against big brother.
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    I am pleasantly surprised. I thought sure that they would rule the other way as cops following a car is allowable. There may be hope yet...
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    Distinguished Member Array Agave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MattInFla View Post
    Indeed. I really don't see any way that body scan can get by the "ordinary sight" test. It's a search, and thus requires a warrant.
    Searches require consent, a warrant based on probable cause, or probable cause and one of many warrant exceptions.

    Anyway, this is good news.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cupcake View Post
    Seems reasonable.
    It does to me, also..."yup:
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    I agree it's a step in the right direction...
    Rats!
    It could be worse!
    I suppose

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    Agree with property rights

    Especially agree with expectation of privacy. At least when the PoPo is following you, you can look for them. If they have such a vested interest in tracking you by GPS, then a warrant shouldn't be hard to get. Following the govt's logic, LEOs could come up with all kinds of ways to get into your house without a warrant. Free cleaning service trial, free exterminator survey, etc. Of course SCOTUS has already said they could go into a realtor's open house and poke around since the property is open to the public.
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