MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

GPS Tracking Continues, Despite the Supreme Court’s Ruling

Posted by M. C. Fox on November 18, 2018

The Department of Justice has issued a ruling that the Supreme Court’s ruling doesn’t apply to the Department of Justice.

The government doesn’t need no stinking warrants.

https://www.garynorth.com/public/18823.cfm

Gary North

Maybe you read that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in January that the Department of Justice does not have the authority to plant a GPS tracking device in your car unless it has a warrant.

The Department of Justice has issued a ruling that the Supreme Court’s ruling doesn’t apply to the Department of Justice.

“What’s that?” you say. “You mean the Supreme Court’s word is not final?” That’s correct.

You see, the Supreme Court said that the GPS tracking devices were unconstitutional. But that didn’t mean that all GPS devices are unconstitutional. Only the ones that the FBI does not want to install. Those are clearly unconstitutional, but not the ones that it does want to install.

You may not understand the law, as interpreted by the Department of Justice.

A lawyer for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) on May 31 defended the use of GPS tracking bugs in cases where no warrant has been issued. This negates the January Supreme Court ruling. In oral arguments in the Ninth Court of Appeals, the Department of Justice made it clear to the Court the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Jones did not require warrants for all GPS tracking situations, because the search could still be reasonable in certain situations.

The Supreme Court said that warrantless searches are a violation of the Fourth Amendment; therefore, so is warrantless tracking. This seemed like a comprehensive ruling, but not according to the Department of Justice.

The Obama administration has argued in documentation that was submitted to the Ninth Circuit that “requiring a warrant and probable cause would seriously impede the government’s ability to investigate drug trafficking, terrorism and other crimes.”

That should settle it. The government needs this information. Therefore, it should be allowed to get it.

The government doesn’t need no stinking warrants.

Continue reading here.

That settled it, right? Not quite. Fast forward to 2016. This is from the ACLU.

During a March 3 House Oversight Committee hearing, the DOJ doubled down on this position and even refused to publicly release more information about how it’s interpreting a Supreme Court ruling on cell phone location tracking. ACLU Legislative Counsel Neema Guliani testified before the committee and made it clear that DOJ is out of touch with reality—and with the Supreme Court—calling on the committee to pass legislation requiring a probable cause warrant to obtain location information.In U.S. v. Jones, the Court ruled that placing a GPS tracker on a suspect’s car and monitoring him for 28 days was a search under the Fourth Amendment. A majority of the justices said that long-term GPS monitoring of a car “impinges on expectations of privacy.”

But DOJ’s policy requires a probable cause warrant only when collecting cell phone location information in real-time, not historical data (even though in a least two instances revealed by an ACLU FOIA, real-time GPS data from a phone was collected without a warrant). The DOJ witness explained that, while historical data could contain private information, a lower standard to obtain it was acceptable under the department’s current policy—even when pressed by committee members who were understandably unable to see why one type of data was less invasive than the other. In her testimony Guliani argued that real-time and historical location data should be treated the same under the law, as both can reveal intimate details about a person’s daily life.

Throughout the hearing, DOJ also refused to commit to publicly releasing information on how it’s interpreting Jones. After a FOIA request by the ACLU, DOJ released two of its Jonesmemos, but they were almost entirely redacted. Even the Oversight Committee itself called on DOJ at least four times to see the memos. During the hearing, Chairman Chaffetz announced that he and Ranking Member Cummings would finally be given access to read the memos — but would not even be permitted to take notes. Meanwhile the public and others members of Congress would continue to be left in the dark on this crucial question of how our government is applying the law.

Keep going: June 2018.

The shift in police procedure due to the court ruling was supposed to increase transparency of monitoring practices, but the ACLU believes that has not been the situation. That is why under the Freedom of Information Act they requested memos from the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the use of GPS tracking devices. The only problem is that the DOJ only provided strongly edited versions of documentation about GPS practices that offer zero information.

https://gps-tracker.com/department-of-justice-silent-on-gps-trackingThis site is devoted to monitoring the performance of GPS trackers. They keep getting cheaper. There are private applications, such as parents monitoring their teenagers’ driving habits (speeding) and location. Businesses can use them, too. Take a look: https://gps-tracker.com.

Be seeing you

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