GPS - search results
PHILADELPHIA - March 18 - The American Civil Liberties Union will argue in federal appeals court tomorrow that the Constitution requires law enforcement to get a warrant from a judge before tracking people's cars with GPS devices.
In the case, the FBI – without a warrant – attached a GPS tracker to the vehicle of three men suspected of burglarizing pharmacies. Following the January 2012 Supreme Court ruling that doing so constitutes a "search" under the Fourth Amendment, the district court issued a decision suppressing the evidence produced by the location tracking.
The Justice Department appealed that ruling to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing in part that even though attaching the device is a search, a warrant is not needed because of a rule called the "automobile exception." The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the lower court's opinion, joined by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
"Just because a technology wasn't around when the Constitution was written doesn't mean that it's not covered," said Catherine Crump, the ACLU attorney who will argue Tuesday before a three-judge panel. "The fundamental privacy rights established by the Fourth Amendment require that police justify their actions and show probable cause to a judge before they can conduct invasive surveillance like constant location tracking. The 'automobile exception' was created so police could find contraband hidden in cars, not so they could monitor a person's movements nonstop for days or even months on end."
Oral argument in U.S. v. Katzin at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The government has appealed the district court's decision granting the defendants' motion to dismiss evidence produced by a GPS tracking device that the FBI attached to their car without a warrant.
Catherine Crump, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project will argue before Judges D. Brooks Smith, Joseph A. Greenaway, and Franklin Stuart Van Antwerpen.
Tuesday, March 19, 9:30 a.m.
James A. Byrne Courthouse
601 Market Street, 19th Floor
The ACLU's amicus brief is at:
The government's appeal brief is at:
The district court's ruling is at:
The first two pages of a US government document regarding GPS surveillance on American citizens given to the ACLU. (via aclu.org)
The American Civil Liberties Union has been given information on how Washington determines when it can surveil American citizens using GPS. The documents are so heavily redacted by the Justice Department, though, that they are essentially worthless.
The redacted sections – which consume several paragraphs and even entire pages – are thought to show legal interpretations outlining the government's rationale on tracking its citizens with GPS. With so much of the documents blacked out, Americans are still wondering whether the federal government is required to obtain a warrant before spying on them with GPS technology – and if so, when exactly it can do so.
The ACLU, one of the most powerful American civil rights groups, had to sue the government in August 2011 with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in order to get their hands on the memos.
The memos "outline the Justice Department’s conclusions regarding its obligations" under US v. Jones, a January 2012 Supreme Court trial that saw a unanimous ruling in favor of requiring law enforcement to get a warrant before tracking American citizens without their knowledge, ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump wrote in a statement on the matter. They also show how the Justice Department's Criminal Division wrote up another memorandum, “Guidance Regarding the Application of United States v. Jones to GPS Tracking Devices,” in late February of 2012. That July, the same division wrote another document on the same topic that it said “should not be disseminated outside the Department of Justice.”
Such a move by Washington bureaucrats is not unprecedented by any means. For example, the government has refused American citizens access to the legal opinions guiding its use of PATRIOT Act Section 215, which applies to the seizure of personal material. The section's vague language allows law enforcement to search or seize "any tangible things" based on a few guidelines.
The government also keeps secret its legal opinions on when it is or is not acceptable to kill Americans with drones. President Barack Obama has even blocked at least one senator, Ron Wyden (D-OR), from seeing the opinions – though legislators are required access to them by law.
The ACLU says it will ask for a court order requiring the Justice Department to release the documents, which the group says are "improperly withheld."
"The purpose [of] FOIA is to make sure the government doesn’t operate under secret law—and right now that’s exactly what these memos are," the statement concludes.
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Screenshot from healthcare.gov
The list of complaints waged at the White House over its Healthcare.gov site continues to grow, but the latest incident involving the online home of the Affordable Care Act is one that could end with legal action being taken.
The main “Obamacare” website has been marred with bugs and glitches since it went online over two weeks ago, and the problems are still piling up. Now according to The Weekly Standard, the Department of Health and Human Services could be sued by the British developers who coded part of the site but were never credited.
Standard reporter Jeryl Bier noted on Thursday that one of the scripts used in powering Healthcare.gov is called DataTables, and it was released by a British company called SpryMedia on condition that anyone who utilized the open-source software provide proper attribution.
“DataTables is free, open source software that you can download and use for whatever purpose you wish, on any and as many sites you want,” Bier quotes from SpryMedia’s website. “It is free for you to use! DataTables is available under two licenses: GPS v2 license or a BSD (3-point) license, with which you must comply (to do this, basically keep the copyright notices in the software).”
HHS, apparently, didn’t read that memo and now might end up in hot water. Bier has provided a number of examples showing how the Obama administration essentially pilfered the code piece-by-piece, except for the attribution that its developers insisted be included.
The Standard said a representative for SpryMedia said they were “extremely disappointed” to hear about the misuse and would be pursuing the matter further with HHS. According to Bier, the company could pursue legal action over the unauthorized use of its copyrighted web script.
The incident comes amid ongoing reports about a number of issues that have plagued Healthcare.gov and other Obamacare websites since they went online on the first of the month. One week after the Oct. 1 launch, CNBC health care reporter Dan Mangan wrote that as few as 1-in-100 applications submitted through the federal exchange system contained enough information to properly enroll that person in one of the president’s plans. A week later, Andrew Couts of the website Digital Trends determined that the cost of getting those sites up-and-running exceeded $500 million, making them more expensive than the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
SpryMedia’s Allan Jardine, the author of the script utilized on HealthCare.gov, told RT over Twitter that it was “[E]xcellent to see DataTables being used!”
“Leaving the copyright head in place isn’t too much to
ask,” he added along with a smiling emoticon.