Supreme Court Rules that Police GPS Tracking Requires a Warrant

police_sirens_4247691_small.jpgThe U.S. Supreme Court ruled recently that placing a GPS device on a suspect’s vehicle and tracking its movements counts as a “search” under the Fourth Amendment, and that law enforcement officials must therefore get a warrant in order to use GPS tracking, according to a recent article in the Washington Post.

The court heard a case involving a D.C. man suspected of drug trafficking. As part of its investigation into his activities, the police attached a GPS device secretly to his vehicle, then tracked his movements for 28 days. The information they gathered from the GPS was then used in court to convict the man of a felony drug crime. The D.C. police did not have a warrant when they stuck the GPS device to the man’s vehicle, nor did they have his permission to put it there.

Several of the justices also felt that electronic surveillance in general was an unconstitutional violation of privacy. However, the court’s opinion did not make a final decision on that point, instead reserving it for future courts to consider.

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