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Supreme Court Considers Warrantless Use of GPS Tracking


The question of whether police need a warrant to affix a GPS tracking device to a suspect's vehicle has made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which begins hearing arguments today. A ruling is expected in the spring.

This case is important because some of the most profound questions relating to privacy in the 21st century turn directly on the handling of the information associated with mobile devices.

When you add in mobile phones, it's not only information on your location, but any information stored on your phone - contacts, emails, calendar info, personal notes, etc.

As pointed out in this article, legislation that is written keeps becoming obsolete very shortly after, if not before, it's passed.

As anyone who has used the newest smartphones can attest, the Ohio State Supreme Court's 2009 statement that cell phones are "are still, in essence, phones, and thus they are distinguishable from laptop computers" now sounds quaint. The belief expressed in the October 2011 court ruling that cell site information only provides approximate location information is already becoming obsolete as wireless network providers continue to upgrade their networks with higher density, smaller cell sites to support increased data traffic. In areas of high population density, cell site information acquired using these emerging networks will often deliver location accuracy rivaling that of GPS.

I know the current makeup of the Supreme Court is 4 crazies to 5 sane people, but i still worry that we might be screwed somehow.

By min | November 8, 2011, 6:00 PM | Liberal Outrage


Don't be surprised if the Justices that you call crazies are the ones that rule against allowing warrant-less tracking. The conservatives on the court are generally true to their 'limited government power' philosophy. See here, for example.

not in the face of "terrorism". when that's the argument, they're usually for more govt intervention. i don't recall them doing anything about warrant-less wiretapping.