Monday, May 11, 2009

GPS tracking without warrants ruled constitutional

A court in Wisconsin ruled that police are allowed to track people with GPS devices without warrants is fully constitutional.

Basically the argument goes that the GPS does not give police any information that couldn't be obtained by regular visual surveillance. OK, whatever.

The part that I don't get is that the ruling was made in regards to a case in which the police DID get a warrant to put a GPS tracking device on his car, and the defendant claimed that it represented unreasonable search & seizure. So rather than ruling that this guy's argument was bogus because the police had a warrant, they ruled that the police don't need a warrant in the first place.

The difference I see between visual surveillance and GPS tracking is that GPS tracking is permanent surveillance of an individual. This is not the police camped out in front of a suspected drug dealer's house waiting for an exchange to take place. This is a device being put on ANYONE'S car, without warrant, and permanently tracking them and their movements. While it may not amount to a "search and seizure" it does represent a breach of privacy. It amounts to an intrusion of solitude. I understand that the GPS device doesn't give information that couldn't otherwise be obtained through public surveillance, but 24-hour permanent surveillance crosses a boundary of privacy for me.

When an individual follows you around and records 100% of your movements we call that stalking and it's illegal. When the police do it apparently it's fine, even if they don't have a warrant or any stated reason. The police now have the right to issue surveillance on all of us for no reason.


Bryant J. Knight said...

Not at all surprising.

The government exists for its own self-preservation, and that is all.

There is one set of rules for them and a completely separate set for us. This is why there have been cases recently where civilians have been charged with "disorderly conduct" for simply filming police in action.

The courts typically support big government. Why wouldn't they? They're part of the government and its self-preserving system.

It's ironic that if you have a complaint against the government, you have to go to the government to do anything about it. Conflict of interest? I think so.

Anarcho-capitalism is the way.

Zaid at UGA said...

"The government exists for its own self-preservation, and that is all."

Really, I thought the founding document of the country said it existed "of by and for the people"?