April 2, 2012
On January 23, 2012 the United States Supreme Court decided unanimously that Antoine Jones’ 4th Amendment right to be secure against unreasonable search was violated. The court ruled planting a Global-Positioning-Systems (GPS) on Mr. Jones wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee, for the purpose of obtaining information constitutes a search. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia approved the warrant, allowing ten days for the placement of a tracking device on the vehicle. The Keystone cops responsible for placing the tracking device did so on the 11th day and in the State of Maryland. Opening the door for the appeals court to overturn the lower court and finally for the Supreme Court to uphold the appeals court’s decision.1
This case brings us to the discussion of rampant police abuse of cell phone tracking. A survey released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that “the overwhelming majority of law enforcement agencies that responded engage in at least some cell phone tracking.” ACLU attorney Catherine Crump stated, “What we have learned is disturbing. The government should have to get a warrant before tracking cell phones. That is what is necessary to protect Americans’ privacy, and it is also what is required under the constitution…the fact that some law enforcement agencies do get warrants shows that a probable cause requirement is a completely reasonable and workable policy, allowing police to protect both public safety and privacy.”2
The ACLU explained further that tracking can be lucrative for cell phone operators, clarifying many charge fees to law enforcement to provide tracking data. This indeed has led to a surge in bills introduced in the United States Congress demanding police respect location privacy. Most cell phones, laptops and tablets contain GPS or alternatively can be tracked by cell phone tower triangulation. Privacy advocates say police, despite the murkiness of the law, use these methods to track suspects. Christopher Slobogin of Vanderbilt Law School said one study indicated that US police have made eight million requests to phone companies for help in carrying out cell phone tracking. 3
Americans must remain vigilant and insist technology not be abused to trample our right against unreasonable search. It is evident widespread police abuse of reasonable search continues daily. Americans must insist fundamental civil liberties are not encroached upon by the slippery slope of the New World Order’s tyranny.