Monday, January 23, 2012

SCOTUS: Police need warrant to secretly track suspects

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GPS tracker attached to underside of car
Got a warrant for that?

This is pretty big, albeit (should be) entirely unsurprising: The U.S. top court has ruled that cops actually need to obey the law, too:

The U.S. Supreme Court says police must get a search warrant before using GPS technology to track criminal suspects.

The court ruled in the case of Washington nightclub owner Antoine Jones. A federal appeals court in Washington overturned his drug conspiracy conviction because police did not have a warrant when they installed a satellite device known as a GPS on his vehicle and then tracked his movements for a month.

The only thing remarkable about this story is precisely why it’s garnering such attention: that it took this long for a court, much less the highest in the country, to declare that, no, it isn’t legal for law enforcement to spy on someone 24/7 without court approval. You’d think that no-one had ever heard of that “Fourth Amendment” thing or something. (Then again, some lower courts apparently haven’t, either.)

(via @BreakingNews)