Susan Brenner wrote a very interesting post about whether law enforcement obtaining OnStar data constitutes a “search” and implicates Fourth Amendment protections:
I’ve done a couple of posts about cases in which law enforcement officers’ use of OnStar listen in on conversations occurring in a vehicle violates the 4thAmendment.
As I explained in the post I did last year, a defendant in this situation is arguing that the use of OnStar to track his/her movements constitutes a “search” under the 4th Amendment and therefore must be done pursuant either to a search warrant or a valid exception to the warrant requirement.
As I noted in that post, the court in that case – an Ohio case – held that the 4thAmendment wasn’t implicated because the monitoring in that case was done by an OnStar employee – a private citizen – which meant the 4th Amendment wasn’t implicated by the monitoring. As I’ve explained in other posts, the 4thAmendment only protects you from searches and seizures conducted by agents of the state, i.e., by law enforcement.
This post is about a case that involved a different use of OnStar: using it to track someone’s movements in a vehicle. The case is U.S. v. Dantzler, 2010 WL 2740003 (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana 2010), and this is how it arose: