For months, supporters and opponents have argued the warrantless GPS tracking issue. With the Supreme Court unanimously agreeing that warrantless placement of a GPS tracking device was unconstitutional, law enforcement agencies will have to adapt while still benefiting from the GPS tracking technology. Although the court was unanimous in its decision, there was a split on the reasoning thus opening the door for on-going discussions related to privacy. The Supreme Court was careful to limit the U.S. vs. Jones decision to law enforcement’s use of the GPS tracking. Today’s modern technology and abundant access to online information only complicates protection provided in the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. We believe the Justices were well aware that many more privacy challenges would come to the Court based upon alternative technologies.
Privacy In The Digital Age
Modern day electronics provide not only access to a wealth of information, they deliver unprecedented convenience. The mobile phone provides the perfect example of this and will likely be one of the candidates for future cases. Twenty-five years ago, cellular phones were introduced in mass and mobility began to take shape. However, today’s device carries the power of a personal computer and almost makes the phone feature an afterthought. Access to the internet, 2-way communication including texting and social media are just a few examples of how privacy can be compromised. In the Supreme Court ruling last week, Justice Sotomayor wrote: “In the course of carrying out mundane tasks, Americans disclose the phone numbers they dial, the URLs they visit, “the books, groceries and medications they purchase.” In addition, our mobile phones incorporate a GPS receiver that is used by many after-market apps. Consumers go about their day not knowing that they can already be tracked by GPS or cell tower triangulation, not to mention historical record of communications and transactions. Cell phones, as well as many other conveniences come with a level of responsibility and personal accountability.
GPS Tracking Provides Many Benefits
GPS tracking devices have not only benefited law enforcement agencies but consumers and business owners alike for more than twenty years. Those who argue that GPS tracking devices are used by everyday citizens to illegally monitor others and employees miss a basic principle of responsibility. GPS tracking devices provide many individuals with valuable information that improves safety and productivity. There will always be those who take advantage of technology beyond its intended purpose. We cannot repress American ingenuity benefiting the majority to appease the few. If we make our opinions based upon these facts, the same could be said about camcorders and tape recorders. Stay tuned as we will continue to monitor privacy issues in the future.