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US Supreme Court: GPS tracking could violate the Fourth Amendment

Mat Smith, @thatmatsmith
March 31, 2015
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Forcing someone to wear a location tracker apparently constitutes a Fourth Amendment "search" - the Supreme Court effectively said so when ruling on a North Carolina case where a convicted sex offender was forced to wear a GPS monitor at all times in 2013. The offender challenged the court, and while the state's court first ruled in favor of the tracker, stating it was no search at all, the Supreme Court said that didn't follow that court's precedents. And what the Supreme Court says, goes.

"It doesn't matter what the context is, and it doesn't matter whether it's a car or a person. Putting that tracking device on a car or a person is a search," said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), talking to The Atlantic. Lower courts will now have to consider whether attaching a GPS tracker to both people and property constitutes a reasonable search. Lynch believes that the lifelong GPS tagging is an unreasonable one -- and the EFF is looking at similar cases in other states. She added: "Sex offenders - it's the easiest class of people to place these kinds of punishments on, but I worry that we start with sex offenders and then we go down the line to people who've committed misdemeanors."

[Image credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF]

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