November 9, 2011
Citizens traveling public highways should have no expectation of privacy just because police are tracking their movements through GPS rather than in person, the U.S. government argued Tuesday in a case before the Supreme Court that pits the interest of law enforcement against individual privacy rights.
The dispute springs from a situation in which police affixed a GPS tracking device to a suspect’s car without a proper warrant. It monitored the suspect’s movements for several weeks, noting where his vehicle went and how long it stayed at each location.
While much of the data was ultimately excluded as inadmissible in court, after a mistrial the suspect was convicted of conspiring to distribute cocaine.
His lawyer subsequently argued that use of the GPS device violated his Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.