Some good news with respect to privacy. The government now needs a probable cause warrant to attach a GPS tracker to your vehicle. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that the police can not attach a GPS tracker to a vehicle in the hopes that it might generate evidence to give them probable cause to get a warrant. The full article is on Wired and has the full decision embedded in PDF form.
The brothers filed a motion to suppress the evidence. The government argued that a warrant was not required for the tracker and that the search of the car was based on reasonable suspicion. The government also argued that if officers were required to obtain a warrant and have probable cause prior to executing a GPS search, “officers could not use GPS devices to gather information to establish probable cause, which is often the most productive use of such devices.”
The justices said the government’s statement “wags the dog rather vigorously,” noting that the primary reason for a search cannot be to generate evidence for law enforcement purposes. They also noted that “Generally speaking, a warrantless search is not rendered reasonable merely because probable cause existed that would have justified the issuance of a warrant.”