Tag Archive | Jones

Judges Drive Truck Through Loophole in Supreme Court GPS Ruling

by Kim Zetter, Wired Magazine, April 20, 2012

A federal judge in Iowa has ruled that evidence gathered through the warrantless use of covert GPS vehicle trackers can be used to prosecute a suspected drug trafficker, despite a Supreme Court decision this year that found such tracking unconstitutional without a warrant. U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett in Sioux City ruled last week that the GPS tracking evidence gathered by federal DEA agents last year against suspected drug trafficker Angel Amaya, prior to the Supreme Court ruling, can be submitted in court because the agents were acting in good faith at the time. The agents, the judge said, were relying on what was then a binding 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals precedent that authorized the use of warrantless GPS trackers for surveillance in Iowa and six other states. …

For full text of this article, please visit Judges Drive Truck Through Loophole in Supreme Court GPS Ruling | Threat Level | Wired.com.

Today – Conference on Mobile and Location Privacy

NYU/Princeton Conference on Mobile and Location Privacy: A Technology and Policy Dialog

Date: Friday, April 13, 2012
Time: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Location: New York University School of Law, Lipton Hall, 108 West 3rd Street (between Sullivan and MacDougal Streets), New York City. Visit link above for registration.

Co-sponsored by the New York University Information Law Institute and the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy, with generous support from Microsoft.

Conference description: The age of ubiquitous computing is here. People routinely carry smartphones and other devices capable of recording and transmitting immense quantities of personal information and tracking their every move. Privacy has suffered in this new environment, with new reports every week of vulnerabilities and unintended disclosures of private information. On Friday, April 13, 2012, New York University’s Information Law Institute and Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy will host a technology and policy dialogue about the new world of mobile and location privacy. The gathering aims to bring together the policy and technology communities to discuss the substantial privacy issues arising from the growth of mobile and location technologies. The conference will combine a variety of formats, including roundtable discussions on specific topics, a keynote address, and a technology demonstration.

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Legislating Privacy After US v Jones

Legislating Privacy after U.S. v. Jones: Can Congress Limit Government Use of New Surveillance Technologies?

by Robert Gellman, JD, Communia Blog, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, January 25, 2012

The Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Jones, a case that addressed the use of global positioning system GPS tracking devices for law enforcement purposes, is hot privacy news. Almost immediately, the decision sparked numerous and sometimes conflicting comments. The issue here is whether the decision will prompt Congress to consider legislation and what that legislation might look like.

The majority opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia used a property-based approach to conclude that attaching a GPS device to a car and using the GPS to monitor the car’s movements on public streets constitutes a search or seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The narrow basis for the decision turned on the fact that the government physically occupied private property the car for the purpose of obtaining information.

A concurring opinion by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by three of his colleagues reached the same outcome, but Alito wanted to determine whether the car owner’s reasonable expectations of privacy were violated by the long-term monitoring of his car. Essentially, Alito thought that the majority’s property analysis was not scalable to present day surveillance issues and that an expectation of privacy standard would reach the same result without the baggage of the property-based approach.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the majority opinion, but she also filed a concurring opinion. She observed that physical intrusion is not always necessary for surveillance e.g., by tracking a cell phone and argued that how surveillance is done may affect an expectation of privacy. So in her opinion Sotomayor asked whether people reasonably expect that their movements will be recorded in a manner that allows the government to ascertain their political and religious beliefs, sexual habits, and more. She even questioned the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties. That was the holding in United States v. Miller, 425 U. S. 435, 443 1976 , a case increasingly criticized by privacy advocates as inconsistent with life today.

For full text of this article, which provides an insightful overview of what crafting and passing updated privacy legislation might entail, visit Legislating Privacy After US v Jones « Communia.

Robert Gellman, JD is a privacy and information policy consultant in Washington, D.C. He served for 17 years on the staff of a subcommittee in the House of Representatives. He can be reached at bob [at] bobgellman. [dot] com or visit his website at http://www.bobgellman.com/. Also check out his article Location Privacy: Is Privacy in Public a Contradiction in Terms?

Supreme Court GPS Tracking Case: Round-up and Resources

Updated February 20, 2012

UNITED STATES v. JONES
615 F. 3d 544, affirmed.

From Cornell University Legal Information Institute [HTML version has links to cited cases]:

From the Supreme Court and American Bar Association websites:

Legislation

In his written opinion, “Alito said the court and Congress should address how expectations of privacy affect whether warrants are required for remote surveillance using electronic methods that do not require the police to install equipment, such as GPS tracking of mobile telephones. Alito noted, for example, that more than 322 million cellphones have installed equipment that allows wireless carriers to track the phones’ locations (ABC News, Jan 23, 2012).” In his article linked below, Robert Gellman provides a nice overview of the complexities of the legislative process for updating privacy legislation after US v. Jones:

For a list of proposed location privacy legislation as of Fall 2011, visit the home page of Kevin Pomfret’s Centre for Spatial Law and Policy.

Law Review Articles and Essays

Case Summaries  and Commentaries (disclaimer: opinions and analyses are those of the original authors, not all may be accurate)

February 2012

January 2012

Older posts

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Location Privacy: Who Protects?

by Catilin D. Cottril, URISA Journal 2011, Volume 23, Issue 2

Abstract: Interest in and concerns related to the issue of privacy in the location-aware environment have been growing as the availability and use of location-based services (LBS) and data have been expanding. Recent events such as “Locationgate” have brought this issue to the forefront of interest for lawmakers, application developers, agencies, and users; however, understanding the varying levels of responsibility for each has been lacking. This article attempts to provide a clear review of the methods by which privacy protection may take place at the levels of law, technology, and management so a better understanding of how a comprehensive approach to privacy protection may take place. While the majority of policy aspects reviewed are U.S.-based, an attempt has been made to provide an overall view of locational privacy policy environments on an international scale as well. It is hoped that this effort will result in a clearer understanding of the ways in which privacy protection efforts should address the related concepts of law, technology, and practice to effectively minimize the risk of privacy harm.

For full text of the article, click here.

What Does the Supreme Court GPS Ruling Mean for Technology and Privacy?

By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Digits, Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2012

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police violated the Fourth Amendment when they attached and used a GPS device to track a suspect’s vehicle without a warrant. … [But the Court's decision] applies only to the placement and use of a GPS device that had to be attached to the suspect’s car. The justices said the device was an intrusion onto the suspect’s property, even if the car was being driven on public roads. The opinion doesn’t say anything about what would happen if the government were able to track the car through other electronic means, without ever touching the vehicle. …

For full text of the article, visit What Does the Supreme Court GPS Ruling Mean for Privacy? – Digits – WSJ.

Supreme Court Ruled on GPS Tracking Case, Backs Privacy Rights

By Jess Bravin, Wall Street Journal, What They Know, January 23, 2012

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court ruled Monday [in United States v. Jones] that police must obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS tracker to a suspect’s vehicle, voting unanimously in one of the first major cases to test constitutional privacy rights in the digital age. … The court split 5-4 over the reasoning behind Monday’s decision, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority that as conceived in the 18th century, the Fourth Amendment’s protection of “persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” would extend to private property such as an automobile. …

For full text of the article, visit Supreme Court Backs Privacy Rights in GPS Case – WSJ.com.

For full text of the Court’s opinion in United States v. Jones, click here.

Are Drones Watching You?

The article “Are Drones Watching You?” provides a nice summary of U.S. case law regarding aerial surveillance with links to the cases.

By Jennifer Lynch, EFF, January 10, 2012

Today, EFF filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration seeking information on drone flights in the United States. The FAA is the sole entity within the federal government capable of authorizing domestic drone flights, and for too long now, it has failed to release specific and detailed information on who is authorized to fly drones within US borders.

For full text of the article, visit Are Drones Watching You? | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

St. Louis Judge To Address GPS Tracking

by Kashmir Hill, Forbes, Jan 3, 2012

In 2012, we can look forward to a decision from the Supreme Court in U.S. vs. Jones, about whether law enforcement need to get a warrant to slap a GPS tracking device on a person’s car. A judge in St. Louis is not waiting to hear what The Nine think of the issue, though. U.S. Magistrate Judge David Noce ruled last week that the FBI didn’t need a warrant to put a tracker on the car of a government employee back in 2010. …

For full text of the article, visit St. Louis Judge Not Waiting For Supreme Court’s GPS Tracking Decision – Forbes.

New CRS Report on Governmental Tracking of Cell Phones and Vehicles

Governmental Tracking of Cell Phones and Vehicles: The Confluence of Privacy, Technology, and Law

by Richard M. Thompson, Law Clerk,Congressional Research Service Report #R42109, December 1, 2011

Summary

Technology has advanced considerably since the framers established the constitutional parameters for searches and seizures in the Fourth Amendment. What were ink quills and parchment are now cell phones and the Internet. It is undeniable that these advances in technology threaten to diminish privacy. Law enforcement’s use of cell phones and GPS devices to track an individual’s movements brings into sharp relief the challenge of reconciling technology, privacy, and law. Beyond the Constitution, a miscellany of statutes and cases may apply to these tracking activities. One such statute is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), P.L. 99-508, 100 Stat. 1848 (1986), which protects individual privacy and governs the methods by which law enforcement may retrieve electronic communications information for investigative purposes, including pen registers, trap and trace devices, wiretaps, and tracking devices. The primary debate surrounding cell phone and GPS tracking is not whether they are permitted by statute but rather what legal standard should apply: probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or something less.

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