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Court rules that sly GPS tracking isn't unlawful

Darren Murph
February 4, 2007
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It's one thing to offload (illegally) a dozen or so GPS units from a storage facility and beg the police to nab you by leaving them turned on, but for the boys in blue to slide a tracking device into your ride to keep dibs on your doings, well that's another matter entirely. Earlier this month, the Seventh Circuit of the US Court of Appeals "ruled against a defendant who claimed that the surreptitious placement of a GPS tracking device amounted to an unconstitutional search," essentially giving the coppers the green light to add a GPS module to a suspicious ride sans a warrant. While we're sure the privacy advocates out there are screaming bloody murder, the district judge found that they had had a "reasonable suspicion that the defendant was engaged in criminal activity," and it seems that a well-placed hunch is all they need for lawful placement. Interestingly, the government argues that no warrant was needed since "there was no search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment," but did add that "wholesale surveillance of the entire population" was to be viewed differently. So while this may come as a shock to some folks out there, it's not like your vehicles have been entirely devoid of data capturing devices up until now anyway, so here's fair warning to be on your best behavior when rolling about.

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