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Cops Don't Need Warrants to Plant GPS on Cars, Federal Court Says

GPS in cars
A federal judge in California recently ruled that police can place a GPS on a person's car without his or her knowledge without seeking a warrant. CNN reports that Juan Pineda-Moreno's appeal was rejected for the third time in early August by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers nine West Coast states. Pineda-Moreno claimed that Oregon DEA agents had violated his privacy by sneaking onto his property and placing a GPS tracker on his Jeep, due to their suspicions that he was growing marijuana. To support their case against Pineda-Moreno, prosecutors used data culled by the device, such as the latitude and longitude of where the Jeep had been driving and how long it had stayed at those coordinates.

While Pineda-Moreno will continue serving his 51-month sentence, not everybody agrees with the court's ruling. "The vast majority of the 60 million people living in the Ninth Circuit will see their privacy materially diminished by the panel's ruling," Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in his dissent of the case. Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told CNN that the ruling was "Orwellian."

This comes less than a month after a D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that police should attain a warrant before engaging in GPS tracking. The opposing Ninth Circuit ruling suggests the constitutionality of warrentless GPS tracking will be tested in the Supreme Court. In some ways, using a GPS to track somebody isn't much different than parking down the street and tailing them. The notion of remote monitoring doesn't make this "Orwellian," but the ease with which the system could be abused definitely crosses into dangerous Big Brother territory.

Tags: court, drugs, fourth amendment, FourthAmendment, GPS, gps tracking, GpsTracking, police, privacy, satellite, security, supreme court, SupremeCourt, surveillance, top

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