Justices decide firmly for privacy in their first ruling on government use of digital technology to monitor people….
The Supreme Court confronted for the first time the government’s growing use of digital technology to monitor Americans and ruled strongly in favor of privacy.
The court said the Constitution generally barred the police from tracking an individual with a GPS device attached to a car unless they were issued a warrant from a judge in advance. But the ruling could limit a host of devices including surveillance cameras and cellphone tracking, legal experts said.
“I would guess every U.S. attorney’s office in the country will be having a meeting to sort out what this means for their ongoing investigations,” said Lior Strahilevitz, a University of Chicago expert on privacy and technology.
Even the justices who most often side with prosecutors rejected the government’s view that Americans driving on public streets have waived their right to privacy and can be tracked and monitored at will. At least five justices appeared inclined, in the future, to go considerably beyond the physical intrusion involved in putting a GPS device on a car and rule that almost any long-term monitoring with a technological device could violate an individual’s right to privacy.
Until now, prosecutors and police have believed as long as they were tracking a person who was out in public, they could use GPS devices, cellphone tracking, facial recognition cameras or computer data mining to gather a dossier on an individual without a search warrant. A majority of the justices aggressively rejected that idea Monday.
Although the justices agreed on the outcome, they quarreled over how to approach the issue and how far to go.
Five justices, led by Antonin Scalia, said the police violated the 4th Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches when they attached the device to a vehicle’s bumper and monitored its movements. …
This may be why it was so difficult to find a gps for a car this Christmas. Garmin makes one small enough, btw, but it hasn’t worked very well.