on FBI and GPS tracking


Recently a federal decision allowed the FBI to embed a GPS device to a suspected Missouri man’s vehicle. Does this mean they come after the rest of us? That is still up in the air until Supreme Court decides what it thinks about the practice which won’t be until later this year. Supreme Court will actually be hearing a different case, but it is still about warrentless GPS tracking. From the Missouri case for example the federal judge said the suspected person could not expect a reasonable amount of privacy on the outside of his car.

According to the same judge:

“Here, installation of the GPS tracker device onto defendant Robinson’s Cavalier was not a ‘search’ because defendant Robinson did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the exterior of his Cavalier. Agents installed the GPS tracker device onto defendant’s Cavalier based on a reasonable suspicion that he was being illegally paid as a ‘ghost’ employee on the payroll of the St. Louis City Treasurer’s Office.

Installation of the GPS tracker device was non-invasive; a magnetic component of the GPS tracker device allowed it to be affixed to the exterior of the Cavalier without the use of screws and without causing any damage to the exterior of the Cavalier. The GPS tracker device was installed when the Cavalier was on a public street near defendant’s residence. Installation of the GPS tracker device revealed no information to the agents other than the public location of the vehicle. Under these circumstances, installation of the GPS tracker device was not a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”

The results could’ve been different if the case was based on the violation of the first amendment as the defense team had hoped but instead it was about the fourth amendment.

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