The US government is claiming that authorities should be allowed to fasten GPS tracking devices to any vehicle — and then monitor its movements — without a warrant. Wired reports that the Obama administration is maintaining the controversial stance, despite the fact that the US Supreme Court ruled last year that such a procedure amounted to search protected by the US Constitution.
An appeal case, to happen later today, will see the administration battle last year’s decision.The main thrust of the argument? That obtaining warrants can hinder the progress of criminal investigations. In fact, court filings even describe how such a process could get in the way of terrorism investigations:
Requiring a warrant and probable cause before officers may attach a GPS device to a vehicle, which is inherently mobile and may no longer be at the location observed when the warrant is obtained, would seriously impede the government’s ability to investigate drug trafficking, terrorism, and other crimes. Law enforcement officers could not use GPS devices to gather information to establish probable cause, which is often the most productive use of such devices. Thus, the balancing of law enforcement interests with the minimally intrusive nature of GPS installation and monitoring makes clear that a showing of reasonable suspicion suffices to permit use of a ‘slap-on’ device like that used in this case.
A bold claim. One that, if considered sensible, could change the way US authorities are able to track and trail citizens. It will be interesting to see which way the verdict falls. [Wired]
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