Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Supreme Court rules over Cellphone Tracking |

cell phone trackingCell phone tracking has become a major concern for the public and policy makers in the US. Recently two cases brought up in the Supreme Court posed a valuable question about how much authority does the police officials have when it comes to tracking cell phones in order to follow suspects. The court has passed ruling on a 2012 case related to GPS tracking
of suspects and 2014 case related to searches using people’s cell phone records. The entire scene has caused confusion which needs to be clarified.

Taking a look at the 2012 case, when the police had mounted a GPS system on a car which allegedly belonged to a drug dealer, it was decided that the police had violated the protection given by the Fourth Amendment regarding “unreasonable search and seizures” by the Court with a majority of 9-0. The use of the warrant that was initially obtained by the police to use the GPS tracker expired but GPS was installed anyway. Even though the Court found the act illegal, government defended
by saying there was no need of a warrant in the first place.

Jones, who is known to have taken the decision to mount the GPS, had personally decided to obtain a warrant but disagreement within the camp regarding the warrant left the decision uncertain. But let’s take a look at the opinions that rose as a result of Jones decision.

First up, the decision of the court speaks for itself when it was determined by all nine justices that the
use of GPS without obtaining a warrant was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. But a few rationales were considered on which their decision was based.

First rationale being, around five Justices were of the opinion that the act was an open violation of the
Fourth Amendment and the police had physically trespassed the law. But they were not clear about the point whether acquiring information of a similar nature from the electronic mediums, omitting physical trespass,would be considered unconstitutional or illegal.

The second opinion would have to be Justice Alito’s. He expressed that an unlimited quantum of the same data is available online and through electronic medium in today’s age which can be easily used, so depending on the Fourth Amendment would be unrealistic. He had confidence of three other Justice’s on the matter. Read more: Supreme Court rules over Cellphone Tracking |