Trespass or illegal search?

“Court Rules Warrant Needed for GPS Tracking,” Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2013 A6

Third Circuit Court of Appeals decides attaching a GPS device requires a warrant, not just reasonable suspicion.

So, let me get this straight.  Information that is publicly visible (where your car is and was) is owned by the car owner? Sure, they could sue the police for trespass (and trespass it seems to have been, at worst).  But requiring a warrant implicitly says that a non-search requires probable cause or a warrant.

Third Circuit, not Ninth.

Yet, in a later article, the Journal writes about employers who place similar devices in phones or trucks issued to employees. “Memo to Workers: The Boss Is Watching,” Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2013 B1  No warrant or consent required, although notice is required in some states. Vehicle data recorders and similar technologies have been used for years for safety reasons. The technology has been in cars for years.

So, placing the device in the car or phone is okay if you are the owner.  The information the device generated is the owner’s. But if the government places the device without consent, the information is still the owner’s.


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Filed under Controls, Internal controls, New Implications, Ownership, Privacy, Use, Value

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