U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Warrantless GPS Device Tracking by Police

June 27, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear a case to decide whether law enforcement agencies must first establish probable cause and obtain a warrant before they can secretly attach a GPS tracking device to a vehicle. The ACLU of the National Capital Area and the Electronic Frontier Foundation previously submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, U.S. v. Jones, arguing that the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement applies and that the level of surveillance allowed by GPS goes beyond visual surveillance or the "beeper" devices used in the past. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed, and the government appealed.

The following can be attributed to Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project:

"The Court has the opportunity in this case to safeguard Fourth Amendment privacy protections in the face of technological advances. Police surveillance using GPS technology raises significant privacy concerns. GPS devices allow the government to monitor and record extremely detailed information about our personal lives. GPS can reveal sensitive information that people reasonably want to keep private, from where they go to the doctor to which friends they are seeing. Sensitive information about who we are and where we go should not be available to any police officer simply because he is curious about someone. It must be subject to the judicial oversight that has always been a foundation of liberty in America."

Statistics image