Along those lines, I noted this in the article:
In a footnote, Scalia added that, “Whatever new methods of investigation may be devised, our tsk, at a minimum, is to decide whether the action in question would have constituted a ‘search’ within the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Where, as here, the government obtains information by physically intruding on a constitutionally protected area, such a search has undoubtedly occurred.”
If that broader interpretation would hold, that would be awesome news. But by putting it in a footnote, as I understand it, it's more of a dream than anything else. Great philosophy, though. Here's hoping it plays out that way.
The problem -- and the reason it won't, probably -- is that this kind of interpretation needs to be put into a constitutional amendment. If you rely on judicial interpretation, between the legislature and the courts, they'll make a muddled mess out of it.
In a (concurring) opinion, Justice Sotomayor agrees with that narrow view, but she asks what will happen when the Government doesn't need to place an actual physical device in one's car in order to record where it's going?
And indeed we're probably already there, so this decision is in fact more about the past than about the future.
The greatest concern would be when surveillance satellites could be used to track cars inside a city. Or using CCTV traffic cameras for a live-tracking of tagged license plates. The question is would this tracking actually constitute a search. Because a warrant doesn't have to be issued for an undercover cop to follow a car, only probable cause. So does 'probable cause' extend to digital tracking through a CCTV grid, satellite or combination? That's where it gets creepy to me, because IMO this likely won't constitute a search.
Then it's a software challenge to automatically read the licence plates in view and keep track of them in a database.
It is highly likely to be already happening in the US, particularly along the borders and in federal investigations.
take the win for what its worth, it is huge. ( i had to double check i wasnt linking to the onion when i woke up and saw theheadline.... good job neighbours ! beproud that your supreme mcourt just did what it is supposed to do, andthey did it loud and clear.
Tell that to lower/circuit courts who have an annoying habit of giving SCOTUS rulings a big fat middle finger.
 And, yes, I am a lawyer, and I am interested in what actual cases you had in mind as you made the statement in your comment.
which points to related cases. Hope this helps!
It's in the wiki entry. Under related cases. As I previously stated.
Appeals courts will follow the supreme court if a similar cae hits the judges desk - they are not goung to throw the same case at the supreme cort, bad mojo, it would just be rejected saying "we Alredy ruled on that".
also.. while i am pretty sure the supremes are in office for life ( or until they step down voluntarily orprobably a few other things like commit a felony or become incapacitated, etc) - are other judges as secure? The supremes take their duties very seriously it seems to me. they dont rule lightly, and they are not stupid.
All judges in federal courts in the United States may stay in office essentially for life. The language in the Constitution is "The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour,"
(Article III, Section 1)
and "during good behavior" means that unless the judges are formally impeached and convicted of malfeasance (which is very rare) they can stay in office until they decide to resign. This independence of the federal judiciary is considered very important by United States lawyers (whether they are "conservative" or "liberal") for maintaining the civil liberties of Americans. Today's decision is a good example of a decision that was made unanimously contrary to the position taken during litigation of the case by the current presidential administration.
I believe the answer to that is "not exactly, it's complicated."
Scalia is a kind of a Fourth Amendment hardliner when it comes to _the home_, so I'm actually surprised at this result. Fourth Amendment rights in so far as automobiles go have been eroding for years. Note that the concurring opinion wanted to reframe the issue such that there _was_ a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to automobiles (which would be a more expansive reading of Fourth Amendment rights).
It's one of the checks placed on their authority.
May be influential, but not binding.
if you can call a victory taking something back
to where it was all along
Why they feel the need to do an end-run around judicial overview I have no idea, because you rarely see a judge ever say "no" to law enforcement.
I say "in France" and "in the 60s" because it's been proven to happen there and then, but it's probably still common in many parts of the world...
I don't have a problem with giving law enforcement more work to do if it means increased diligence in the court room and due process actually being executed...duly.
Here's an earlier description of what the bill ACTUALLY does: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3497599
The only difference is that the supreme court ruling mentions officers having to enter a constitutionally protected area(your car) to install the searching device. With ISP data recording they would have to make no such intrusion, as it would be built in. It would be as though every car came with GPS monitoring and all the feds had to to was ask for it from your car's manufacturer.
I think we will need new legislation or some serious divine intervention for this decision to protect our online privacy from the government.
A right-leaning Supreme court upholds tennants of the 4th Amendment - the go-to civil liberties ammendment - at the same time a Democratic administration seeks to weaken said ammendment.
When Democrats are attacking our civil liberties and Republicans (looking at you, Lamar Smith) are removing our economic freedoms, it's time to take the crackpots seriously when they say we're not living in a republic anymore.
Sure, there's a lot to complain about, but this case shows that there are positive things both sides agree on.
This isn't topsy-turvy; it's exactly what we should expect when we consider the two sides as "Judicial branch" vs. "Executive branch" rather than 'right' vs. 'left'. One should expect professional Defenders of the Constitution, however they used to vote in national elections, to care deeply about 4th amendment protections.
The same one we've lived in since Marbury v Madison. Judaical review and all that jazz.
The legislature and executive are always trying to grant themselves more power, regardless of party.
One where the majority of people refuse to see politicians as politicians. There is no Democrat vs Republican.
Your "politicians are all the same" meme might be popular with people who are too lazy to learn about the world, but it rings hollow to anyone not living in willful ignorance.
This is like saying you prefer presidents with brown hair. There are good people with brown hair, and there are bad people with brown hair.
Your argument that there are no Democrats or Republicans amounts to an argument that there is no Asperger's syndrome, or Rett syndrome, it's all just Autism. Anyone actually on this spectrum, or that spends even the slightest bit of time studying it, would tell you you're either ignorant or insane.
Electromagnetic energy is also on a spectrum. In some places we call it "visible light". In some places it's infrared, ultraviolet, radio, or microwave. Are they all energy? Yes, but that's irrelevant.
Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, they are all a grouping of policies and beliefs that are assigned labels. There is no more "no democrat" or "no republican" than there is "no visible light".
No significant political party or other large group in history has ever demanded perfect adherence by all members to all aspects of platform or ideology, that doesn't mean the groups didn't exist.
I'm also not sure where you get the idea that lowering taxes is not a Democratic thing, or creating social programs is not a Republican thing. It sounds like you're getting your ideas of what the parties stand for solely from the loud-mouthed extremists.
The world is nuanced, that doesn't mean identifiable groups do not exist.
So what was the government trying to do? They really wanted the Supreme Court to rule that installing this GPS receiver was not even a SEARCH within the meaning of the 4th Amendment. The Court said no, this is a search. In the future, they will subject similar GPS installations to 4th Amendment scrutiny.
But on the warrant issue, Scalia explicitly wrote the Court will not answer the question of whether the government needed a warrant on page 12 of the opinion. Why? "The Government did not raise [this argument] below, and the D. C. Circuit therefore did not address it... We consider the argument forfeited."
Basically the Govt. tried to convince the court that their bungling did not matter because a "warrant" not needed to begin with as it was not a "search" as defined in the 4th amendment. The Supremes slapped the hell out of that argument and thus created a major ruling that now impacts all govt. actions on GPS. The irony is awesome.
This case only seems to cover devices the suspect doesn't already willingly carry.
Cell phone records are not the papers or effects of the person being
investigated, they belong to the cell phone company. The Supreme Court
"consistently has held that a person has no legitimate expectation of
privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties."(442
US 735,743-744) That
quote is from the Court's ruling in a case that was specifically about
police getting a record of telephone calls that a suspect made,
Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979).
Congress laid out rules for police obtaining such records in the Electronic
Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986. The ECPA doesn't specifically
mention cell phone location information (since this was 1986), but it does
include "name; address; local and long distance telephone connection
records, or records of session times and durations; length of service
(including start date) and types of service utilized; telephone or
instrument number or other subscriber number or identity, including any
temporarily assigned network address; and means and source of payment for
such service (including any credit card or bank account number)."
A court order may be issued under section 2703(d) of the ECPA "only if
the governmental entity offers specific and articulable facts showing that
there are reasonable grounds to believe that … the records or other
information sought, are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal
This is a lower standard than for a search warrant. A warrant
requires "probable cause", that is "information sufficient to warrant a
prudent person's belief that … evidence of a crime or contraband would
be found in a search".
Next we have to fight for our bodies not to be searched without a warrant as Rand Paul is currently experiencing personally: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3500715
maybe, but probably not necessary. they'll just get warrants. its not really that hard to get a warrant. if they have basically any reason to suspect that you're doing something illegal, they can get a warrant.
remember that even in this case, the government had a 10 day warrant; they just tracked the guy for 11 days.
> the way this is worded, it maybe seems the action of placing the tracking device that is the violation, not using an existing one, and they can still do it for "segments"
not sure what language suggested that, but the facts of this specific case were that they tracked a guy for more time than the warrant allowed (not that they attached a device without a warrant). scotus ruled that this wasn't okay.
For example, Facebook has been careful to never make an explicit statement to the effect of, "we never share data with law enforcement unless we receive a warrant or subpoena". My guess is that this is because they do share data without asking for a warrant.
Because it's absurd. Because I do not carry or interact with explosives.
A backscatter machine in some ways is even more intrusive than a pat down as it can generate higher resolution images, which can be saved. Furthermore, there is a small, but non-zero risk of bodily harm from the scan -particularly when you multiply the risk by the number of trips and passengers going through the procedure, even a one in a million chance would cause harm far in excess of the risk of terrorist threat that the search is trying to mitigate.
Then you are hopelessly inhuman. The difference should be obvious, and likely cannot be explained if it is not.
The "beeper" was essentially a short-ranged RF transponder used as a tracking device. The officers were actively following the suspect, and using it as an aid to tailing the suspect's car. The suspect lost the tail, and the cops used the beeper to find where he went.
This is contrasted with a GPS device, which was placed, tracked for a month, and then retreived, and the data of the month's movements used to convict the drug dealer.
Good news on either interpretation, though.
>United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276 was a 1983 United States Supreme Court case regarding the use of electronic surveillance devices. The device in question is described as a beeper and can only be tracked from a short distance. The court unanimously held that the use of such devices did not invade a legitimate expectation of privacy, and was therefore allowed, without a warrant, under the Fourth Amendment.
Is it just a distance thing? Or length of time of the surveillance?
Here's the full opinion:
The four remaining justices (Alito, Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan) would've made a stronger holding, instituting a new general principle that pervasive, long-term monitoring requires a warrant, regardless of the method: they summarized Knotts as "relatively short-term monitoring of a person’s movements on public streets" as opposed to this case's "use of longer term GPS monitoring". (The're a need to come up with some kind of dividing line, because short-term tailing of people on public streets has long been considered something police can do on mere suspicion, without a warrant.)
Sotomayor's concurrence indicated a potential willingness to join those latter four in an appropriate case, but she didn't feel it was necessary to deciding this case, since it was enough for this case to just hold that the physical installation required a warrant.
It seems mind-boggling for me that the mere fact that the device was installed by the then-owner would be enough to make this OK without a warrant. It seems no different than leaving a sticky tracking device on a public street where you know the suspect is going walk, so that he unknowingly picks it up on his shoe and can be monitored...pretty much forever.
EDIT: Wait, on second thought, are you sure? The main opinion says
> The first case, Knotts, upheld against Fourth Amendment challenge the use of a “beeper” that had been placed in a container of chloroform, allowing law enforcement to monitor the location of the container. 460 U. S., at 278. We said that there had been no infringement of Knotts’ reasonable expectation of privacy since the information obtained—the location of the automobile carrying the container on public roads, and the location of the off-loaded container in open fields near Knotts’ cabin—had been voluntarily conveyed to the public.6 Id., at 281–282. But as we have discussed, the Katz reasonable-expectation-of-privacy test has been added to, not substituted for, the common-law trespassory test. The holding in Knotts addressed only the former, since the
latter was not at issue. The beeper had been placed in
the container before it came into Knotts’ possession, with
the consent of the then-owner. 460 U. S., at 278. Knotts
did not challenge that installation, and we specifically de-
clined to consider its effect on the Fourth Amendment
analysis. Id., at 279, n. Knotts would be relevant, perhaps, if the Government were making the argument that
what would otherwise be an unconstitutional search is
not such where it produces only public information. The
Government does not make that argument, and we know
of no case that would support it.
To me, that says that Knotts is distinguised because all the data that the police used was available publicly, i.e. that Knotts did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy (which, presumably, Jones did in the recent case).
> One of the Obama administration’s main arguments in support of warrantless GPS tracking was the high court’s 1983 decision in United States v. Knotts, in which the justices said it was OK for the government to use beepers known as “bird dogs” to track a suspect’s vehicle without a warrant. In that case, the police had the consent of that truck’s owner, which was not the case in the opinion decided Monday, Scalia wrote.
So they had "the consent of that truck’s owner". I'd like to know what they specifically meant with this though.
police need tools to do their jobs, ive lived in lands with police forces that aredysfunctional. they need limits too, it just may turn out that the supreme court decision here changes a. lot of things indirectly, rebalancing things a bit.
From the last footnote in Alito's opinion, In this case, the agents obtained a warrant, but they did not comply with two of the warrant’s restrictions: They did not install the GPS device within the 10-day period required by the terms of the warrant and by Fed. Rule Crim. Proc. 41(e)(2)(B)(i), and they did not install the GPS device within the District of Columbia...
In the oral arguments, there's considerable discussion about whether pervasive GPS or other technologically enabled surveillance in itself is constitutionally permitted. The discussion on this point makes for interesting listening/reading because everyone agrees that the police are permitted persistently to monitor someone over any indefinitely long period (in public, where there is no search) without a warrant. Would equivalent surveillance carried out not by human police officers but rather by technology be allowed? Even though the relevant technologies will soon be so cheap that the authorities would be able to monitor anyone (or everyone) in the country?
Another interesting point brought up in the oral arguments is that the government owns your license plate, so placing a monitoring device on that, rather than the car itself, would not constitute a trespass and so may not constitute a search. Nothing in this decision refutes that logic, so the police may still be able to track you by GPS without a warrant so long as they put the transmitter on your license plate.
1a. Transcript: Oral Argument - Supreme Court [PDF]
1b. Audio: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/302576-1 [Flash]
When the Supreme Court rules 9-0 against you,
there's a good chance your argument was fucking stupid.
Data gathered by voluntarily-placed GPS units aren't covered by the ruling. If they want the data, the onus is then on cities to create incentives to place GPS units voluntarily.
Initiatives are started to link road tax to miles driven in any given county - which requires GPS to check.
Cars suddenly begin to have built-in GPS transmission not just for OnStar, but for other applications, like Facebook.
The car becomes a platform, and suddenly laws are enacted that effectively require private citizens to report data to law enforcement.
Law enforcement gets to track _all_ drivers without a warrant.
(Not that I'm arguing for a different ruling - this is great - but I don't trust the government not to take surveillance to its maximum possible level given current technology.)
So sad to think all those investigations will now have to have proper court oversight (not that I imagine that is too hard to get).
Anybody know how this could effect other, already completed, cases? Could I ask for a retrial/appeal if my conviction was heavily based on this type of evidence?
Wow. So I guess that number is supposed to shrink to zero now? That transition could prove to be very interesting...
From the first paragraph of the decision: "The warrant authorized installation in the District of Columbia and within 10 days, but agents installed the device on the 11th day and in Maryland. The Government then tracked the vehicle’s movements for 28 days."
And from the footnote on page 2: "1 In this litigation, the Government has conceded noncompliance with the warrant and has argued only that a warrant was not required"
So they got a warrant but messed up and failed to comply with its terms, and to try to preserve the conviction they argued that they didn't have to comply with the warrant.
Edit: Rereading it, andylei's main point is that police just need to get warrants and in order to still be able to use GPS tracking, and that's correct. Apologies for the nitpicking.
What's somewhat sad is that a drug dealer, who was caught with 97 kilos of cocaine, 1 kilo of cocaine base, and $800,000 cash, gets to go free. But small price to pay to retain the freedom of 300 million people I guess.
It was merely a coke dealer. We're not talking a serial child rapist or mass murderer. My neighborhood is full of these guys and its unpleasant, but its just drugs. I think a dealer going free is a very, very, very small cost to pay. So small its not even worth worrying about. You could jail him today and 10 others would take his place. Drugs are funny that way. Demand doesn't really go down past a certain point.
Meanwhile people who cover up child rape are deified because the organization they are part of (large sports organization, organizaed religion) is too sacrosanct to challenge.