Tuesday, May 12, 2009

GPS Installation Requires Warrant

The New York Court of Appeals has held that "the installation and use of a GPS device to monitor an individual's whereabouts requires a warrant supported by probable cause." The court found that the Appellate Division majority had erred in admitting evidence from the GPS in a criminal trial:

One need only consider what the police may learn, practically effortlessly, from planting a single device. The whole of a person's progress through the world, into both the public and private spatial spheres, can be charted and recorded over lengthy periods possibly limited only by the need to change the transmitting unit's batteries. Disclosed in the data retrieved from the transmitting unit, nearly instantaneously with the press of a button on the highly portable receiving unit, will be trips the indisputably private nature of which takes little imagination to conjure: trips to the psychiatrist, the plastic surgeon, the abortion clinic, the AIDS treatment center, the strip club, the criminal defense attorney, the by-the-hour motel, the union meeting, the mosque, synagogue or church, the gay bar and on and on. What the technology yields and records with breathtaking quality and quantity, is a highly detailed profile, not simply of where we go, but by easy inference, of our associations- - political, religious, amicable and amorous, to name only a few--and of the pattern of our professional and avocational pursuits.

There is a lengthy dissent that notes: "The attempt to find in the Constitution a line between ordinary, acceptable means of observation and more efficient, high-tech ones that cannot be used without a warrant seems to me illogical, and doomed to failure."

Why did the court insert a trip to the defense lawyer between visits to a strip club and a by-the-hour motel? 

Chicagotribune.com reports on a contrary decision of a Wisconsin Court of Appeals. (Mike Frisch)


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The greater and more personal invasion of privacy, to me, is how this court discovered and then published my own exact itinerary from last Friday. I can only guess that they found my diary. I do appreciate that they changed my actual last diary entry, after the bar entry, to "and on and on." That was a well suited euphemism. I feel pretty embarrassed that people found out and told people that I am ... seeing a psychiatrist. Luckily I got my face changed right after.

The only good news is that anyone reading my GPS data had to struggle through numerous course corrections where I would miss an exit and the Nicole Kidman voice would tell me, coldly, "recalculating." These things have gotten so accurate and realistic that I could swear I heard her say, "My mother was right about you" at one point. It was especially difficult, even with GPS, finding the union hall here in Louisiana, though of course not the strip club.

Oh, and it was a by-the-minute motel on Airline Highway. They gave me a bit too much credit

Posted by: Alan Childress | May 12, 2009 8:24:08 AM

This is a highly surprising decision taken by the New York Court of Appeals. This is an interesting posting.

Posted by: GPS | Jun 12, 2009 11:25:34 AM

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