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Supreme Court To Weigh In On Warrantless GPS Tracking 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-criminals-go-somewhere-incriminating dept.
CWmike writes "In a move with far-reaching privacy implications, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear a case involving the government's authority to conduct prolonged GPS tracking of suspects in criminal cases without first obtaining a court warrant. The government has argued that it has the authority to conduct such searches; privacy advocates have argued that such tracking violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. The Supreme Court's decision in the case will be pivotal because lesser courts around the U.S. have appeared split on the issue in recent years, with some upholding warrantless GPS tracking and others rejecting it. Last August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit sided with the subject of the Supreme Court hearing, Antoine Jones, a Washington, D.C. man who was convicted in 2008 on charges of possessing and conspiring to distribute more than 50 kilograms of cocaine, and rejected claims by the government that federal agents have the right to conduct around-the-clock warrantless GPS tracking of suspects."
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Supreme Court To Weigh In On Warrantless GPS Tracking

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  • Re:10 bucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sortadan (786274) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:07PM (#36605930)
    Yep. What sucks is that they are taking a case where the defendant is clearly someone that the government should have been tracking and just didn't go through the correct channels of authorization (warrants). For the supreme court to decide to hear this case makes me think that they want to look like the good guys when they decide that the government can track anyone for any reason at any time.
  • Re:10 bucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by russotto (537200) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:26PM (#36606096) Journal

    Yep. What sucks is that they are taking a case where the defendant is clearly someone that the government should have been tracking and just didn't go through the correct channels of authorization (warrants). For the supreme court to decide to hear this case makes me think that they want to look like the good guys when they decide that the government can track anyone for any reason at any time.

    Successfully reading the court in advance requires a degree in divining, Harry Potter style. It could be just the opposite -- they want to make the point that it would have been easy to get a warrant, so forbidding warrantless tracking won't actually hurt the state's interest in catching criminals.

  • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @08:32PM (#36606138)

    Oh fuck you.

    Clarence "Just Bribe My Wife" Thomas's points were as disgustingly intellectually dishonest as I've ever seen from him.

    Parental responsibility is just that: PARENTAL. It doesn't mean kids need to have a signed fucking permission slip to go into a store to buy a comic book, bubble gum, or even a video game. It means it is the responsibility of the PARENT to manage what money their kids are given, what they are allowed to do with it, and to punish the kid appropriately when the kid decides to "go behind their parents' backs and..."

    If you as a parent don't want your kid to buy a certain game, or a certain action figure, or a toy cap gun, or a certain book, or a magazine, or any one of a gazillion other things that uptight cult-brainwashed puritan moron parents seem to think are "bad" for their kids, then YOU TALK TO YOUR KID ABOUT IT. It is the responsibility of the PARENT to keep tabs on what their kid is doing/buying.

    The ruling, rightly stated, points out that it is NOT the right of the parent to demand that every fucking shopkeeper in the state has to be a fucking prick about selling harmless things and checking ID merely because of the 1 in a million chance that the parents of the kid in front of him might be the sort of fucking gap-toothed asshole who insists that the only books in the house be "Da Bible" and the gun cleaning manual hanging next to the rack of roadkill waiting to be gutted and spit-roasted for dinner.

  • by element-o.p. (939033) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:00PM (#36606326) Homepage
    Decaff, bro.
  • by jeko (179919) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:11PM (#36606398)

    SuperDave80 could have made his argument with a little more rigor, but what's he reaching for is "Not even the King is above the Law."

    The Government cannot expect us to follow the Law if it will not follow the Law itself. This was the whole point of the Magna Carta, one of the founding documents of modern law.

    The 1215 Charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties, and accept that his will was not arbitrary, for example by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today.

    If the Rule of Law does not apply to all, including and especially the Executive, then you have the walking definition of a corrupt state and an illegitimate government. When the government does not obey the law, you have a duty to break it and oppose the men in power. I'll let the Declaration of Independence speak for itself:

    ...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends ... it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

    When the government does not follow the Law, then there is no Law to be followed.

    You will, of course, still have moral limits on your behavior.

  • Re:I'd allow it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SydShamino (547793) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:26PM (#36606494)

    The cops can already get this information by dangerously and expensively tailing you or flying over your head, and they can do that without a warrant; why should obtaining the same information from a GPS be any different?

    Because the burden of cost is one of the ways that our public anonymity is maintained. If the cost barrier is removed, it will need to be erected as a legal barrier.

  • by jeko (179919) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:26PM (#36606496)

    The cops can already get this information by dangerously and expensively tailing you or flying over your head, and they can do that without a warrant; why should obtaining the same information from a GPS be any different?

    Because Liberty is a matter of degree, not just type. A woman runs into her ex-boyfriend at Starbucks Monday morning. If she doesn't see him again, that's chance. If she bumps into him again at lunch, that's odd. If she sees him at dinner, it's weird. If she sees him every time she sets foot out her door, that's stalking.

    Police departments have finite resources. They can only surveil a handful of people full-time. That's police work. If they can automate that and keep track of thousands of people simultaneously while logging their every movement into a database, that's Orwellian.

    The fact that they would do that while trespassing on my property is just creepy.

     

  • Re:10 bucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @09:34PM (#36606552) Journal

    The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are tenured; they don't care if they look like 'the good guys' or not. They don't have to compete with anyone else to keep their jobs for the rest of their useful lives, so there's simply no impetus to keep other people happy.

    This is a good thing: It is, perhaps, the least political position of power in the justice system.

    I look forward to seeing what they have to say about this case.

  • Re:10 bucks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @12:09AM (#36607454) Journal

    Personally, I think that unlimited tracking crosses a line. But I can very easily see the argument that it's a simple extension of police tracking that is enabled through the use of new technology.

    Is it too late to get Amazon to do express delivery of nine copies of the book 1984 to:

    Supreme Court of the United States
    One First Street N.E.
    Washington, DC 20543

    Just saying. Every single thing in that book can easily be argued to be "a simple extension of police tracking that is enabled through the use of new technology". At some point, you have to draw a line.

  • Re:10 bucks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @02:09AM (#36607940) Homepage Journal

    I don't think anyone has anything on them.
    They're very clearly "movement" conservatives who place their ideology and party BEFORE the constitution, and simply lied about that fact during their confirmation hearings.

  • Re:10 bucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @04:02AM (#36608346)

    "But it would not be illegal for an undercover officer to follow him around, the police doesn't need probable cause for that. At least I've never heard of the police being charged with stalking and given a restraining order..."

    But, as his defense attorney has already pointed out, that is different. Even a dedicated human "tail" is not likely to be following him 24 hours a day, everywhere he goes. There are some definite differences there.

    It also involves tampering with private property, to attach and detach the device.

    What it boils down to, is that this is somewhere between human surveillance, as you compared it to, and putting a radio collar on you to track your every movement. I think it is pretty obvious that a radio collar would come under the purview of the 4th Amendment.

    And if you ask my honest opinion, that situation resembles a radio collar a hell of a lot more than it does human surveillance.

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