The Supreme Court on Tuesday is scheduled to hear arguments about whether investigators need to get a warrant before doing so.
Legal experts say the case, which stems from a D.C. nightclub owner’s conviction on drug charges, is one of the most important Fourth Amendment cases in decades, and will determine how police conduct investigations and privacy in the high-tech age.
“…The Supreme Court on Tuesday is scheduled to hear arguments about whether investigators need to get a warrant before doing so.
GPS devices aren’t the only high-tech surveillance tools making waves. The District said earlier this year that it was planning to beef up its public surveillance system, adding thousands of security cameras to its citywide network; law enforcement officials are increasingly using such systems and a variety of other technological devices to monitor people.
That’s why the Supreme Court’s eventual decision in the GPS case could have far-reaching implications for privacy rights, said John Whitehead, a constitutional lawyer and president of the Charlottesville-based Rutherford Institute. In an amicus brief arguing that a warrant should be required for most GPS surveillance, the institute points to microelectromechanical sensors, Radio Frequency Identification chips, tracking chips in cell phones, facial-recognition software and iris scanners as other tools where security and privacy rights can be at odds.
“No one believes that GPS surveillance by law enforcement is inappropriate,” said John Verdi, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “The question is: What is the standard that law enforcement will be held to? Is law enforcement simply permitted to track anyone, at any time, for no reason?”
“Waiting until this sort of surveillance technology is in use everywhere before setting limits on its use by police is imprudent,” the brief says….”