On Tuesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth District threw the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution out the window, ruling that police can track cell phone GPS data – and thus track you – without a warrant. The case of United States v. Skinner centered on a suspected drug trafficker who was tracked through his cell phone and arrested by the DEA. The Judge in the case, John Rogers said in his ruling, “Skinner did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the data emanating from his cell phone that showed its location.” He went on to say, “Law enforcement tactics must be allowed to advance with technological changes, in order to prevent criminals from circumventing the justice system.”
There are two ironies to this decision. One, the Supreme Court ruled in January that cops could not place GPS tracking on someone’s car without a warrant, so yesterday’s ruling affirms that cops can track cell phones but not cars. Two, the ruling comes on the heels of the discovery of TrapWire – the massive law enforcement surveillance system that is tracking every Americans’ whereabouts to detect terrorist threats. So, Judge Rogers’s worries about cops being able to circumvent the judicial system are unfounded.
Never before in history, has law enforcement had this much surveillance and technology to keep tabs on Americans.
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