Clarence Walker writes:
Recent federal and state court decisions that overturned narcotic convictions of suspected drug dealers as a result of law enforcement using warrantless GPS tracking devices to watch suspects have triggered an intense debate over the Fourth Amendment, which provides citizens against unreasonable search and seizures.
The GPS controversy is at the center of a raging legal discussion over privacy rights: Should law enforcement be allowed to install a GPS on a vehicle without a warrant during criminal investigations to track a suspect’s movement 24-7, and does warrantless tracking violate a person’s privacy although they are being watched by the police in public?
While [Antoine] Jones sits in federal prison pending the resolution of his case, the thorny issue of warrantless GPS tracking and the Fourth Amendment continues to vex the courts. When the issue finally arrives at the Supreme Court, it will have to decide first whether GPS tracking constitutes a “search” under the Fourth Amendment, and second whether long-term, continuous GPS tracking without a warrant amounts to an illegal search.
“There’s no clear Supreme Court guidance on this issue,” said John Verdi, a senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a DC-based advocacy group. “Courts have left the states to decide what should be done using their own state constitutions.”
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