Law enforcement officials can now secretly install GPS tracking on your vehicle and spy on you without a warrant, says judge

Monday, January 9, 2012
By Paul Martin

by: Ethan A. Huff
Monday, January 09, 2012

As long as law enforcement officials claim to have reasonable suspicion that you might be involved with committing a crime, they are free to affix a GPS tracking device to your car without your knowledge and monitor your every movement. At least this is the opinion of US Magistrate Judge David Noce from the Eastern District of Missouri, who recently decided that no warrant is needed to secretly track individuals suspected of criminal behavior.

The ruling came after 69-year-old Fred Robinson was accused of receiving $175,000 from the City of St. Louis Treasurer’s Office for work that he did not actually perform. Robinson allegedly never went in for work and was suspected of holding his position with the city in name only. This led law enforcement officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to secretly affix a GPS tracking device to Robinson’s vehicle while it was parked in a public place, and proceed to monitor his activities.

But rather than conduct a proper investigation, officials allegedly went straight to the GPS option to determine whether or not their suspicion of Robinson’s malfeasance was warranted. They apparently had no solid evidence, and obviously no warrant, and yet proceeded to pursue Robinson as if they had a warrant.

Robinson’s attorneys and civil liberties advocates say these actions are a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibits unwarranted searches and seizures. But in Judge Noce’s opinion, installing secret GPS devices does not constitute a “search,” and is thus not a constitutional violation.

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