You might think that police or other federal authorities would need to obtain a court order to be able to place a GPS tracking device on your vehicle. That court order is apparently not needed according to the Obama administration. This is despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled last year that attaching GPS devices to the vehicles of citizens amounted to search protected by the Constitution.
Wired reports that the Obama administration will take its case before an appeals court this week in a case set to test the parameters of Supreme Court ruling from 2012 concerning GPS tracking. If the federal government wins, authorities will continue to be able to place GPS tracking devices on vehicles with no court order.
The case will be heard in the third US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. At the heart of the case is a decision on whether or not police and other law enforcement agencies need probable cause warrants issued by a judge in order to track the GPS location of a suspect’s vehicle. Wired reports that after the Supreme Court’s January 2012 ruling, federal authorities disabled 3000 GPS trackers that were installed on vehicles without warrants.
The federal government believes that broad exemptions with regards to search warrants that have been granted in the past for instances such as the oversight of school students, probationers, border maintenance, and the ability to search vehicles and luggage for drugs should be applied to GPS devices. The government says that not being able to place GPS devices on vehicles without a warrant would “seriously impede the government’s ability to investigate drug trafficking, terrorism, and other crimes.” The case that will be heard in Philadelphia has to do with three brothers that were arrested for pharmacy robberies in a van that was being GPS tracked without a warrant by authorities. The brothers were found with drugs and pharmacy surveillance systems in their possession inside the vehicle that was being tracked.