Supreme Court Says Cops Can't GPS Track Your Car Without Warrant

The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that because of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, police must obtain a valid warrant before using a GPS device to track a suspect for an extended period of time.

The decision, United States vs. Jones (pdf), throws out the drug-related conviction of nightclub owner Antoine Jones. Although District of Columbia police had obtained a warrant in 2005 to track Jones's Jeep Grand Cherokee, the warrant had a ten-day lifespan. The GPS locator was installed the day after the warrant expired and while the vehicle was outside of the department's jurisdiction, and DC police tracked Jones for nearly a month after installation before arresting him.

Five of the justices concluded that use of the tracker was effectively a private-property search. Four reasoned that the DC police had violated reasonable privacy rights. In either understanding, the point was essentially the same: electronic surveillance faces the same constitutional limits as other police activity.

(Hat tip to DeeVee!)

Photo Credit: AP