DC Circuit says law enforcement can't use GPS on perps car without a warrant

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver.Image via Wikipedia
Washington Times:

A sharply-divided federal appeals court has rejected a Justice Department bid to overturn a ruling saying the government's use of GPS technology to track a suspect violates the Fourth Amendment.

In a case closely watched by national civil liberties groups, the 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Friday came three months after a three-judge panel reversed the life sentence of man convicted of running a drug ring from a D.C. nightclub.

Lawyers for the defendant, Antoine Jones, had argued that the government's use of GPS technology violated his "reasonable expectation of privacy."

During the summer, the panel ruled that police needed to get a warrant when using GPS to keep track of a vehicle. In an opinion written by U.S. Circuit Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, the panel said the GPS data proved "essential to the government's case."

Judge Ginsburg also wrote that a "reasonable person does not expect anyone to monitor and retain a record of every time he drives his car, including his origin, route, destination and each place he stops and how long he stays there."

I think this case is a mistake. There is nothing that would prevent the police from staking out the perp's vehicle and following him. The GPS is just another means of doing that which does not invade his zone of privacy anymore than following him through a mall would.
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