Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Big Government run amok: Obama Administration says citizens have no 'reasonable expectation' the government won't track them everywhere they go

Despite the US Supreme Court's ruling in US v. Jones that such an activity constituted a Fourth Amendment search, the Obama Administration continues to maintain that it may install a GPS tracker on personal vehicles without a warrant or demonstrating probable cause. (From Wired see: "Feds: No warrant needed to tack your car with GPS device." The government's latest brief (pdf) on subject to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals says they should be able to use such trackers to develop probable cause, a notion that turns the Fourth Amendment on its head.

If the court doesn't buy that argument, the feds maintain judges should apply the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment that allows a lower standard to search a vehicle at a traffic stop than a person's home. The automobile exception, though, was created to let police look for contraband. It's quite another thing entirely to say it justifies continuous tracking over time.

Incidentally, Mr. Jones, of US v. Jones fame, saw his case result in a deadlocked jury earlier this month. The government, after being told it couldn't use information from the GPS tracking device in his car, used tracking data from his cell-phone instead to generate the same location information. So it wasn't the lack of location data that soured the case but the state's failure to provide other, sufficient proof of his guilt. Still, the episode shows the relationship between cell-phone tracking and US v. Jones - if that loophole isn't closed, Jones becomes essentially useless for protecting personal privacy in an era where nearly every adult has a cell phone.

These federal cases demonstrate why Rep. Bryan Hughes HB 1608 has received so much support in the Texas House, along with bipartisan support for a warrant requirement for cell-phone location data in the Senate. Opponents of the measure have been arguing of late that your personal location information does not belong to you, that you've given up any "reasonable expectation of privacy" regarding your location simply by carrying a cell phone. This is the "third-party" exception - an ill-advised, SCOTUS-written carve-out of the Fourth Amendment that Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued should be reconsidered in her concurrence to Jones in an era when so much data about us is now held by private companies. Sotomayor argued that to allow continuous, warrantless tracking by the government would "alter the relationship between citizen and government in a way that is inimical to democratic society." She's right.

Nine Justices in Jones said putting a location tracker on your car is a search, and a majority of justices held it was a search not just because of the physical intrusion of placing a tracker on your car but because continuous tracking of one's movements violated reasonable expectations of privacy. Judges, though, aren't the only ones who take an oath to uphold the Constitution. Legislators, too, bear that obligation and when judges or the executive branch fail to act, it's incumbent on legislatures to step in to protect constitutional rights. The Texas Legislature has a chance this session to exercise leadership on this question, rebuffing the Obama Administration's absurd, self serving contention that we have no "reasonable expectation" the government won't track us everywhere we go.


Solicitors in Luton said...

If this will happen then privacy of citizen will be finished.

Anonymous said...

If a leader of a country doesn't want to follow the a Constitution he agreed to follow and uphold, the people of that country should hang him until dead and then burn his body with the rest of his family.

Then again if I'm talking about in the United States, well nothing will happen, because the majority of Americans are cowards and too weak to protect their own country.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

You first, 8:54, show us how it's done.

Or, instead of running off at the mouth about murdering politicians and their children (which if it continues will just get your comments deleted), try calling your state rep and senator and tell them to sign on to Hughes' and Hinojosa's bills, if they haven't already. Failing to do even that much while engaging in anonymous bluster urging violence that you don't have the cojones to engage in yourself is what's truly "weak."

SCOTUS benchslapped the Obama Administration once on this and - if my vote count is right - they're likely to do so again. But most tracking is done at the state and local level, and with the GOP controlling the Texas Lege, that's where, in the near term, to focus your energies if you want to oppose the Administration's policies.

ColeenSanLeon said...

Done :) Care to join me?

Thomas R. Griffith said...

I did it!
Thanks for suggesting & for asking.

As of last check, there's plenty room on the non-violent criminal justice reform movement bandwagon.

Grits, thanks for bioch slapping any thoughts (Murray & Co.) may have wishing to kick start blog comment section reaction stop watches. Their client's will thank you as well, for time is money.

WhyMeLord said...

The technology exist and for cheap to block GPS. Down side is this will also block mission critical applications. The hard reality is that neither the FCC nor any federal or state department has the resources much less the time to stop them all.

Something markedly similar happened to the wireless communications company with cell phone cloning.

WhyMeLord said...

I might add that the skill set requires is available to most any AP high school student with an interest in electronics

Anonymous said...

Scott is behind this corrupt government 100%! Scott I"m sure is aware of people in other countries and their children get murder/assassinated all the time by Scott's government. But it's a Christian thing.

Scott is one to believe that the pen is mightier than the sword or stupid Religion says it's ok to murder if his leader says its ok.

Write a letter to a crooked politician will get things done. HA-HA! There's been only thing writing a politician to stop something from happening in all our history and succeeded. Do you recall what that was?

You're going to delete my post for how I feel? Sorry readers we've just stepped into the twilight zone and have arrived back into Scotts Nazi Germany.

Write your letters, because you're just making our Founding Fathers roll over in their graves with laughter.

Most Americans are afraid to stand up and fight their own government, but will allow Americans to go to other countries and start wars and kill innocent women and children? How do you tell or what do you say to you granddaughter about something like this?

No wonder other countries hate us, I hate what this government has become. Lets hope the enemies have their coordinates on Washington D.C. and not the innocent people of America.

Anonymous said...

Grits for Breakfast, best blog in Texas!


Living in Texas you find out the government is about to confiscate guns. What do you do, pull out your mighty pen and start to write some people back in Washington or join your friends and neighbors by getting a gun and killing the enemy?

Choose your answer wisely, you're in Texas.

"urge violence that you don't have the cojones to engage in yourself is what's truly "weak."

What's truly weak is those people who are too much of a coward and are weak to protect their rights, even their God given rights.

What kind of person are you Scott? It's 2am and someone is breaking down your backdoor. Are you grabbing your shotgun or fumbling with the phone trying to call 9-11 and hoping and praying the cops show up in time to save your love ones?

rodsmith said...

It's the govt mindset like this that is the final indicator it's past time for it to go.

Sorry last time i looked the declaration of ind does not say "We the govt create these people"

What it does say is

"WE the people create this gov"

They are EMPLOYEES. They are not a soverign. They are EMPLOYEES.

Sorry my employees do not have immunity from ME.

They do what they are told!
When they are told!
How they are told!

FAILURE to follow this means only one thing!

They are DONE!

The only question is how they leave!

It can be a polite

"Sorry but your service is no longer needed. Good luck in your future else where!"

or as i've had to do in some cases.

"You've been told 5 times your no longer welcome here. Now this BIG guy with the BIGGER GUN is now going to escort you off the property. Fail to leave or if you come back. You WILL get hurt!"

Choice is yours!

Texas Maverick said...

Sotomayor argued that to allow continuous, warrantless tracking by the government would "alter the relationship between citizen and government in a way that is inimical to democratic society." She's right.

This comment was appro. to the testimony on the bill before the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on expansion of the collection of DNA to Class B & Class A convictions. Rep Canales suggested why stop there, collect at birth (he was in opposition to the bill.)

Privacy is on it's deathbed unless we wake up.