FOIA Request for Justice Department Policy Memos on GPS Location Tracking
The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Justice in July 2012, seeking the release of two memos detailing how the federal government uses various technologies to track our movements in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark location tracking decision, U.S. v. Jones. The ACLU filed a lawsuit to enforce that request in August 2012, and in January 2013, the DOJ handed over the memos - but they were almost entirely redacted (you can view the memos here and here). The ACLU is continuing to fight for release of the memos, and we will ask the court to order the Justice Department to release them because they are being improperly withheld.
In January 2012, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Jones, holding that the government’s attachment of a GPS tracker to a car constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. The existence of the memos the ACLU is working to obtain, drafted in the aftermath of the Jones decision, emerged after an FBI official discussed them publicly last year.
With technological innovation making it easier than ever for the government to track our movements, it is crucial that we know how law enforcement employs new technologies against ordinary citizens. But the Department of Justice refuses to disclose the rules under which law enforcement operates. The ACLU will continue its fight for the release of the memos, to ensure that the government respects the Constitution’s protection against unreasonable searches, and to combat the secrecy surrounding policies that could be affecting each and every one of us.