Categorized | Opinion, Spartan Daily
Land of the freely tracked thanks to your car’s GPS device
By Michiko Fuller
September 7, 2010
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Michiko Fuller, staff writer
If you intend on parking your car somewhere, it better be locked in your garage, according to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway.
The decision regards a GPS device secretly placed on the car of an Oregon man suspected of growing marijuana. His vehicle was parked just a few feet away from his home on the night the tracking device was stuck underneath the car and hidden from sight.
Evidence gathered from tracking the man’s movements were used to convict him, despite the fact there had been no warrant or notification of the GPS on his vehicle. He is now serving a 51-month sentence and has been denied an appeal three times.
The 9th Circuit, which includes California, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii contributes to a huge body of cases in the historically liberal court. Chief Justice Alex Kozinski dissented against what he called an “abandonment” of the Fourth Amendment, which most interpret as an implicit right to privacy.
Way back when Americans were still colonists avoiding taxation, British tax collectors could enter homes and seize any possessions they felt necessary. The Fourth Amendment remedied this problem by stating people have the right to be “secure in their papers, houses, persons and effects” and protects us from unreasonable search and seizure.
The law holds up in its original purpose, but modern technology has moved faster than the law can keep up. Litigation is notoriously slow and the 9th Circuit proves 60 million people can make the process even slower. The case of the Oregon man started three years ago.
With the proliferation of GPS through cell phones and becoming commonplace in newer vehicles, the government could very easily become an Orwellian state.
You probably wouldn’t notice you’re being watched and your justice system has no responsibility to notify you as it stands today.
For Batman fans, there was a good reason Lucius Fox wanted to resign when Batman showed him the cell phone sonar imaging he used to find the Joker. It’s simply unethical to use someone’s personal property to track them without their consent.
Constant tracking violates the concept that we are innocent until proven guilty. Typically, evidence found without a warrant will be thrown out of court. Parolees are at least aware of their tracking devices and can adjust their lives accordingly without incriminating themselves unintentionally.
What may be more unsettling for broke college kids is the court’s reasoning behind the ruling that if strangers, such as delivery people, can access your car, you can’t expect privacy.
That means gated communities with high fences, posted security and other roadblocks to your pizza delivery person are allowed a higher expectation of privacy than someone sharing a garage or without the funds to enclose their property.
Who thought setting your car alarm would be to ward off police officers?
Hope does remain as more Fourth Amendment privacy cases work their way through appeals circuits across the nation.
Even if the Oregon man’s appeal is denied yet again, this is not an issue the Supreme Court can ignore much longer.
The Fourth Amendment needs an official interpretation or else another amendment needs to be added to the Constitution.
There needs to be a definition between delivery people and government agents.
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One Response to “Land of the freely tracked thanks to your car’s GPS device”
Ted Rudow III,MA says:
September 8, 2010
Although people are increasingly moving toward a digital or cashless society now, the movement is slow and gradual, with stops and starts, a little here in this place and a little there in that place. People seek speed and convenience, yet at the same time they are comfortable with the way things have been for years—indeed, for centuries. For hundreds of years men and women have embraced cash, bills and coins which they could touch as a store of wealth and a means of payment. As things were in the Roman Empire and in world empires of the past, so are they today—cash is still the way. Many people are uncomfortable with the thought of a cashless society, one based only upon a computerized card or chip which links them to their invisible wealth.
This cashless society and to speed it along, and men and women have both knowingly and unknowingly put the infrastructure for it in place. Yet there are still few people, very few in comparison to the billions on earth, who travel that route. And even those who do only use digital cash or digital means of payment part of the time. They pay for this or that online, use a credit card or debit card here and there, and write a check in other instances, but cash is still primary to them.
To do that, he will use crisis after crisis in the kingdoms of man, the nations of the world, for they are given into his hand for now. One of the crises which he will bring about is that which you have called the crash—the recession of all recessions, the greatest depression man has ever known.