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October 06, 2010


Joshua Engel

Relying on Supreme Court cases from the early 1980’s, law enforcement has not sought a warrant before using GPS devices without a warrant. These precedents established that the use of electronic tracking devices on vehicles did not constitute a search – and, accordingly, did not implicate the Fourth Amendment – because people do not have a reasonable privacy interest in the movement of their vehicles when traveling on a public roadway. Until recently, Federal courts have, on the basis on these decisions, almost universally upheld the use of GPS tracking devices. I agree, however, with a recent decision by the D.C. Circuit Court recognizing that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the totality of their movements over the course of a period of time.

I have written on this at I have also posted an article I am publishing this winter on the subject, a draft is here:

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