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Warrant compulsory for GPS tracking: Supreme Court

Washington, US: The US Supreme Court ruled that police need a search warrant before tracking a suspect with a GPS device, in a case involving privacy and 21st century technology. The highest US court ruled 9-0 that police had violated the rights of a suspected drug dealer when they placed a GPS, or tracking device, on his vehicle without a warrant and tracked his movements.
The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution provides guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure. “We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search,'” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote.
“The government physically occupied private property for the purpose of obtaining information,” Scalia said. “By attaching the device to the Jeep, officers encroached on a protected area.”
The case was seen as an important test of how far police can go in using technology to investigate and track suspects. It drew wide interest from civil liberties groups amid concern that new technologies can be used to get around constitutional protections of privacy and other rights.
The Washington-based Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) described the ruling as a “landmark decision.”
“The Supreme Court today made it clear that it will not allow advancing technology to erode the constitutional right of privacy,” said Gregory Nojeim, director of the CDT’s Project on Freedom, Security and Technology.
The CDT said the case also has implications for the use of cellphone tower data to track individuals. “Cell phone triangulation can be just as precise as GPS,” Nojeim added.
“Congress should build on this opinion by writing a statute that draws a bright line requiring the government, except in emergencies, to get a warrant before turning your cellphone into a tracking device,” he stressed.
Source: www.gpsdaily.com