White House to argue for GPS tracking without a warrant

b738000 was999617 White House to argue for GPS tracking without a warrant

The case, set to be heard on Tuesday by the 3rd US Circuit Courtof Appeals in Philadelphia, comes over a year after a US SupremeCourt decision failed to convince the Department of Justice thatwarrantless GPS tracking is an infringement on Americans’Constitutional rights.“This case is the government’s primary hope that it does notneed a judge’s approval to attach a GPS device to a car,”Catherine Crump, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) told Wired magazine.In January 2012 the Supreme Court overruled an Obamaadministration assertion that police should be permitted to affix aGPS device to a personal vehicle without a search warrant.Questions were left, however, when the Court declined to answerwhether that type of search was unreasonable and when justicescould not reach a consensus on how police would need to monitor asuspect before requesting a warrant.“We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS deviceon a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor thevehicle’s movement, constitutes a ‘search,’” Justice AntoninScalia wrote for the five-justice majority last January.Scalia stipulated in the opinion that a warrant was not alwaysnecessary, but failed to mention any specific examples of when thiswould be the case.Now prosecutors are honing on Scalia’s exact language, arguingthat the Supreme Court’s decision only specifies that theinstallation of a GPS constitutes a search, while the tracking thatfollows does not. The government argues that the Supreme Court hasgiven police near free reign in allowing for search warrantexceptions.Searches of students, individuals on probation and bordercrossings are among the proposed exceptions.The argument resurfaced after Philadelphia brothers Harry,Michael and Mark Katzin were indicted for a string of late-nightpharmacy burglaries in 2010. Suspicious of the Dodge Caravan theythought was used in the robberies, investigators monitored thevehicle with a GPS device for 48 hours and were able to trace thebrothers’ involvement.Arguing in US v. Katzin, government prosecutors claimed that alaw requiring them to seek a warrant would seriously impedeinvestigations of terrorist suspects.“Requiring a warrant and probable cause before officers mayattach a GPS device to a vehicle, which is inherently mobile andmay no longer be at the location observed when the warrant isobtained, would seriously impede the government’s ability toinvestigate drug trafficking, terrorism and other crimes,”authorities said in court.“Law enforcement officers could not use GPS devices to gatherinformation to establish probable cause, which is often the mostproductive use of such devices. Thus, the balancing of lawenforcement interests with the minimally intrusive nature of GPSinstallation and monitoring makes clear that a showing ofreasonable suspicion suffices to permit use of a ‘slap-on’ devicelike that used in this case.”While the ACLU accused the government of prosecutorial overreachin the case, it praised a new bill – the so-called ‘GPS Act’ – thatwould require law enforcement to get a warrant in order to accessan individual’s GPS tracking history, whether it be from a vehicledevice or a cell phone provider. The bill, which would not affectemergency services but would require police to prove probablecause, was reintroduced into Congress by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR),Mike Kirk (R-IL) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).In a statement, Wyden decried the government’s blind eye topolice overreach.“GPS technology has evolved into a useful commercial and lawenforcement tool – but the rules for the use of that tool have notevolved with it,” he said. “The GPS Act provides lawenforcement with a clear mandate for when to obtain a warrant forthe geolocation information of an American…It protects the privacyand civil liberty of any American using a GPS-enableddevice.”


White House to argue for GPS tracking without a warrant

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