Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Victory For Privacy: Federal Appeals Court Rules Police May Not Conduct GPS Searches Without Warrant

Kevin Gosztola at FDL:
A federal appeals court has ruled that police must obtain a warrant in a case involving a “slap-on” GPS tracking device, where defendants had argued they were victims of searches that violated their privacy rights.

The court found the attachment of a GPS tracking device to a defendant’s van was not excused by the argument that law enforcement were acting in “good faith.” All evidence obtained from the search was ordered to be suppressed in the case.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reacted to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision. “Today’s decision is a victory for all Americans because it ensures that the police cannot use powerful tracking technology without court supervision and a good reason to believe it will turn up evidence of wrongdoing,” ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump said.

It's about time. Warrantless searches, under Bush Junior and then under Obama, have become almost the rule rather than the exception, to the point at which the Fourth Amendment almost doesn't exist anymore. Perhaps this will breathe new life into it, and discourage at least some cops from doing whatever they damned well please irrespective of the Bill of Rights.

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