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Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals Allows Tracking Through Cell Phones

Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals Allows Tracking Through Cell Phones

Posted on 28th Aug 2012 @ 2:44 PM

gps-map-for-location.bmpAccording to the statement of a recent court case, the Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals says that it is now legal for police and other law enforcement officers to track your location by monitoring your cell phone. U.S. v. Skinner, Case No. 09-6497.

The Supreme Court made a decision earlier this year that stated that police officers needed a warrant before they could place a GPS tracking device on your vehicle. However, the Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over parts of Tennessee, Ohio, and Kentucky, is now saying that the police do not need warrants to track your location via the GPs signal in your phone.  This means that at any given moment, a police officer can track anyone they please without a warrant or even a justifiable reason. The police could invade your privacy to see where you go at any given time of day.

Many people are comparing this decision to the setting of George Orwell’s classic 1984.The court is saying that the need for police efficiency outweighs the want for electronics privacy on people’s digital devices. The case in question involved a marijuana bust, but the rule applies to everyone under the Sixth U.S. Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction.

Cell phones are capable of sending GPS signals several times a minute, even if they have been turned off. The only way to stop the GPS tracker from transmitting a signal is to remove the entire battery from the phone itself.

According to the Sixth Court, attaining a warrant to monitor your location via cell phone is too much of  a hassle, especially in dire cases. “Using a more efficient means of discovering this information does not about to a Fourth Amendment violation,” the court sniffed.

Incredibly, the court equated high-tech electronic monitoring with a bloodhound following a scent or identifying a car by its color. The judges said that GPS tracking of citizens is the same as someone following you on the street.

The Sixth Circuit judges must have gone to law school in a totalitarian country, because they clearly have no concept of most Americans’ expectation of privacy.

Think about it: the government now can track you from the sky without a warrant, as well as track all the attendees with cell phones at a political meeting. The can follow you because you attended an Occupy Wall Street protest or because they think you had too many glasses or merlot. If the police get a tip that you’re wearing clothes commonly used in a crime, they can literally watch your every step.

“The government should have to get a warrant before tracking cell phones. That is what is necessary to protect Americans’ privacy, and it is also what is required under the Constitution, “said Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

In a dissent, Judge Bernice B. Donald said, “… the question is simply whether society is prepared to recognize a legitimate expectation of privacy in the GPS data emitted from any cell phone. Because I would answer this question in the affirmative, I cannot join… the majority opinion.

AUTHOR - Carlos Reyes

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