Police Allowed to Place GPS Tracking on Vehicles – Without a Warrant

A new ruling has given police the right to place GPS tracking on vehicles to track movements, without a warrant. The ruling now applies in California and eight other Western states, and apparently doesn’t violate your Fourth Amendment rights – because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway.

Dominique Lazanski of the Big Brother Watch website writes:

The Ninth Circuit Court — a regional US court with jurisdiction over 9 western states — has ruled that law enforcement officials have the right to put a GPS tracking device on a person’s vehicle without a warrant, without violating their privacy.

The recent court decision was made on the case of Juan Pineda-Moreno. In the course of their investigation into him the Drug Enforcement Agency placed a GPS monitor on his Jeep, which was parked yards from his home. Mr. Pineda-Moreno argued that his right to privacy was violated by this monitoring. The court stated that his driveway is a public through way for kids, dogs, bikes, and the like since it was open and without fences or barriers, and that once the GPS device was planted, the DEA was then free to monitor Mr. Pineda-Moreno without the need for a warrant.

If the government can walk up to your car or your bike and place a GPS device on it without a warrant, then how far away are we from the day when the government can just take a look inside your house or just have a quick check of your emails without a warrant? How far away are we from having this happen here in the UK?

The good news is that other circuit courts haven’t ruled the same way — including the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia whose judges have been appointed by Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and Bush junior. The 9th Circuit Court decision may be contested in the Supreme Court and, hopefully, overturned. For now, if you live in the Western United States park your car or bike in your garage if you have one!