The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union are waging a legal challenge against what they say is law enforcement’s growing use of global positioning system location-tracking devices often without first seeking a warrant.
In a friend-of-the-court brief filed Tuesday, EFF attorneys argued that FBI agents should have obtained a court order before secretly planting GPS technology on the vehicle of a drug trafficking suspect. The device allowed agents to know the suspect’s whereabouts 24 hours a day for a full month, was accurate to within 100 feet and yielded more than 3,100 pages worth of data, according to the filing.
Because such devices allow agents to determine a person’s precise location, they can be used to track visits to any residence, therapist or medical facility. Such surveillance should be covered under the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, the brief argues.
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“Absent a warrant requirement, the police could track unlimited numbers of members of the public for days, weeks, or months at a time, without ever leaving their desks,” the document states.
“No person could be confident that he or she was free from round-the-clock surveillance of his or her movements and associations by a network of satellites constantly feeding data to a remote computer that could at any instant determine with precision his or her current or past movements, and the time and location that the individual crossed paths with other GPS-tracked persons.”
The brief was jointly filed by EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area.