GPS Tracking Among Government Agencies
For over a decade government agencies and police forces routinely placed GPS trackers on the automobiles of people they suspected were involved in law breaking activities. The so-called “good guys” were able to do this without first gathering a warrant from a judge or establishing any type of probable cause. With so much surveillance being conducted on the public with almost zero judicial oversight it didn’t take long for this type of surveillance on civilians to end in a lawsuit that the highest court in the United States would have to weigh in on. Once the United States Supreme Court justices ruled that police should obtain a warrant before ever placing a tracking device on a automobile it seemed as though the procedure for using GPS trackers would forever be changed. Unfortunately, the type of transparency many expected never occurred and now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is searching for answers from the Department of Justice. The nations high court ruled in the controversial GPS case in a closely decided 5-4 vote that Global Positioning System monitoring was essentially equivalent to the search of a suspect’s home or private property. The vote resulted in the dismissal of a number of cases where the key evidence was gathered by police without warrants using car tracking devices. The shift in police procedure due to the court ruling was supposed to increase transparency of monitoring practices, but the ACLU believes that has not been the situation. That is why under the Freedom of Information Act they requested memos from the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the use of GPS tracking devices. The only problem is that the DOJ only provided strongly edited versions of documentation about GPS practices that offer zero information. Naturally, the ACLU was less than pleased with the revised information and is far from satisfied. The primary concern the ACLU has is that the government may be infringing on the Fourth Amendment rights of people with the method in that they use GPS tracking technology. The ACLU simply wants to ensure that a systematic, appropriate and legal protocol is being used when it comes to the use of vehicle monitoring trackers. Although the only thing the ACLU has right now are allegations, the advocacy group is unpleased and now in the process of pushing for access of more information through the help of the court systems. The ACLU has stated their only goal is to have total transparency, the type entitled under the Supreme Court and Freedom if Information Act.