Supreme Court to Decide Tracking’s Fate Next Month

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Next month, the Supreme Court will hear one of the most controversial cases of the last few years. The case will set a precedent for the legality of GPS tracking of suspects by law enforcement. The heart of the controversy lies with the privacy of United States citizens against the powers of government.

One one side of the fence, many people, including law enforcement claim that GPS tracking of suspects does not involve a breach of privacy, as there is no expectation of privacy when out in public. On the other side of the fence, people are concerned that without proper checks and balances, in the form of a warrant, it would be too easy for police to track any citizen for any reason. This does not sit very well with many citizens, including the ACLU.

“We don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy when we are out on public streets,” said Anthony Barkow, New York University Law School’s director of the Center for the Administration of Criminal Law. “Police can do it without technology. This is just sexier because it is high tech.” Barkow is among the many who feel that there is no difference between police monitoring a suspect in their vehicle and monitoring suspects at their desk over a computer screen.

Federal appeals court Judge Douglas Ginsburg offers a distinction between following a person and using GPS tracking to monitor them.  “The sequence of a person’s movements can reveal still more – a single trip to the gynecologist’s office tells little about a woman, but that trip followed a few weeks later by a visit to a baby supply store tells a different story,” wrote Judge Ginsburg, who was responsible for over-turning the ruling against Antoine Jones, the same case that is going to be heard by the Supreme Court.

Article Written by Marisa O’Connor

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