Tuesday, December 14, 2010

There's a battle over how law enforcement can track us.

The EFF Deeplinks blog reports this week on three court cases regarding the feds use of cell phone and GPS tracking. Over all it looks promising, although the feds are predictably arguing that they should be able to track us using our cell phones and other geo-location technology without a warrant. But although it looks hopeful, we have to remain vigilant or have our right abridged, limited, and nullified.

It wasn't in the Deeplinks blog, but the News-Register.com reports that a federal appeals court in Washington D.C. ruled that D.C. police had violated Antoine Jones rights by placing a tracking device on his car without a warrant. The appeals court agreed with a lower courts opinion that a:

"reasonable person does not expect anyone to monitor and retain a record of every time he drives his car, including his origin, route, destination and each place he stops and how long he stays there."

A wise ruling on the part of both courts. If you can't get a judge to issue a warrant, you don't have enough reason to put a GPS on a car, any more than you have enough to tap a phone. There are reasons law enforcement is limited in it's ability to spy on us. We don't live in a police state. There has to be probable cause for police to search citizens, otherwise we could be pulled over and searched because the cop is having a bad day. Or because we post something critical of the President, or the mayor, or the police chief.