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The Court ruled that placing a GPS tracker required a warrant. In this case the FBI obtained a warrant, but violated the terms (they placed the device a day after the warrant expired, and in Virginia, not in DC as specified in the warrant). The Govt argued that they didn't need the warrant anyway, but the Court disagreed.

The Court threw out the tracker data, and freed the alleged drug trafficker (who had received a life sentence).

The Govt can still place a GPS tracker, they just need to get a warrant and follow the terms laid out in the warrant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer"
As long as they get a warrant, that is fair to me. But this was not the only case where a tracker was used w/o one.
 

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The Court ruled that placing a GPS tracker required a warrant. In this case the FBI obtained a warrant, but violated the terms (they placed the device a day after the warrant expired, and in Virginia, not in DC as specified in the warrant). The Govt argued that they didn't need the warrant anyway, but the Court disagreed.

The Court threw out the tracker data, and freed the alleged drug trafficker (who had received a life sentence).

The Govt can still place a GPS tracker, they just need to get a warrant and follow the terms laid out in the warrant.
Unfortunately, the decision was not that cut-and-dry. I really wish it had been.

What they ruled was only that for this case, the placing of the GPS device constituted a search so far as the Fourth Amendment is concerned. They did not rule on whether or not conducting such a search without a warrant would be unreasonable. From Alito's opinion:

"We need not identify with precision the point at which the tracking of this vehicle became a search, for the line was surely crossed before the 4-week mark."

This is a bit scary, in my opinion. It seems clear to me that a search was triggered the second the GPS device was attached, but Alito is clearly stating that the court did not clarify that issue since the specific case didn't require them to do so.
 

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I'm not sure I agree, I'm not sure I disagree. There gets to a point where a layman can't understand the implications of something said in the decision vs the concurrence.

I think Alito was talking about cases where the government doesn't have to trespass upon your property (that is, attach something to your car when you own it). If they attached it at a car dealership, right before you bought it, would be an example.

I think the usage of GPS trackers with a warrant is settled. Alito wrote:

But where uncertainty exists with respect to whether a certain period of GPS surveillance is long enough to constitute a Fourth Amendment search, the police may always seek a warrant.
However, to my mother's eternal disappointment, I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know for sure.
 

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I'm not sure I agree, I'm not sure I disagree. There gets to a point where a layman can't understand the implications of something said in the decision vs the concurrence.
Then I suggest you read the interpretations of the decision and associated opinions posted by legal experts (almost every article online has some).

I think Alito was talking about cases where the government doesn't have to trespass upon your property (that is, attach something to your car when you own it). If they attached it at a car dealership, right before you bought it, would be an example.
Both he and Sotomayor touched on this, but neither went so far as to make declarations... they only brought these things up as additional aspects of the issue which the decision (unfortunately) did not address.

I think the usage of GPS trackers with a warrant is settled. Alito wrote:
Look carefully at the text you quoted. Note the words "long enough to constitute a Fourth Amendment search." By saying that, he is implying that there may be a permissible amount of time where GPS surveillance would not qualify as a Fourth Amendment search, and therefore would not require a warrant. Very scary stuff.
 

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The cars are already armed with a GPS. Think OnStar. I've heard that even if you don't subscribe, your vehicle can be tracked at any time. I really don't care as I'm not doing anything illegal, BUT if things keep going the way they are, I don't want to be tracked or watched like I'm a criminal. Glad to see this GPS matter was upheld in court but it does bring up OnStar and other services offered by other car companies as a "luxury".
 

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The cars are already armed with a GPS. Think OnStar. I've heard that even if you don't subscribe, your vehicle can be tracked at any time. I really don't care as I'm not doing anything illegal, BUT if things keep going the way they are, I don't want to be tracked or watched like I'm a criminal. Glad to see this GPS matter was upheld in court but it does bring up OnStar and other services offered by other car companies as a "luxury".
Prebuilt GPS devices like OnStar and the GPS built into mobile phones aren't covered by this decision. The Court relied on the fact that the installation of the GPS device was a "trespass" onto the suspect's property. It cited a previous case where a "beeper" was installed in a container before the suspect took possession.

In the case of OnStar, the government doesn't have to trespass onto your property to get your location, and it's not clear that OnStar requires a warrant similar to a wiretap. If you look through my back and forth with OwnTheRide, things like OnStar and mobile phones are exactly what Justice Alito referred to.

Another issue is what OnStar decides to do with the data. I think one of the GPS manufacturers sold aggregated GPS data to the police, who can then use it to place more effective speed traps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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