New York Court Rules On GPS Trackers
Privacy advocates and law enforcement agencies have long been butted heads over the application of monitoring individuals via GPS trackers. Law enforcement agencies have strongly been in favor of the practice of covertly equipping potential criminal’s automobiles with GPS tracking units as a cost-effective way to gather evidence, and at the same time keep officers out of the line of danger. On the other side of the argument, privacy advocates suggest that the practice of attaching GPS vehicle trackers onto private citizen’s automobiles infringes on the individual’s personal rights and freedoms. After reviewing evidence from an FBI investigation where the government agency used a GPS tracker to gather evidence on a drug trafficker, the highest court in the state of New York came out with a groundbreaking decision that would change the way law enforcement use GPS tracking devices.
GPS Tracker Decision
Although the decision by the New York Court may not have gathered as much attention as “The Decision” LeBron James made when he decided to take his talents to South Beach, the court ruling will have a lasting impact on the way police go about gathering evidence on criminal activity. After carefully reviewing the evidence and the route in which the New York law enforcement agents used GPS tracking technology, the New York courts came to the conclusion that no police or law enforcement agency can use evidence gathered from a GPS vehicle tracking unit unless they first obtained a warrant to use that tracker. The court made it very clear that a warrant must be obtained prior to the installation of a GPS tracker. The decision New York high courts made regarding the new steps that law enforcement must make prior to using GPS devices may have made it more difficult for police to conduct surveillance operations, but it does create some oversight on the controversial practice. For example, now a police officer must obtain a warrant prior to utilizing vehicle tracking technology on the car of any potential criminal. This one additional step is significant because it will force police authorities to first establish reasonable cause for why they want to use GPS tracking. This will eliminate potential violations of privacy and 4th Amendment Constitutional rights. Clearly, the topic of GPS tracking will continue to make headlines until each state outlines protocol, as well as at the Federal level, but one thing is for certain and that is GPS tracking devices have considerable value as a law enforcement tool and will therefore continue being used by investigators all across the globe.