In a recent Wall Street Journal article by Julia Angwin, she comments on
remarks made at the University of San Francisco "Big Brother in the 21st
Century" conference by FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann. He
acknowledged that as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling in
U.S. v. Jones overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices there
has been a "sea change" inside the U.S. Justice Department. That ruling
indicated that tracking a vehicle by law enforcement with a GPS device
without a search warrant violates the Fourth Amendment. As a result, the
FBI has turned off approximately 3000 GPS tracking devices.According to the
article, Mr. Weissmann indicated that in order to retrieve some of the
devices it was necessary for the FBI to obtain court orders to briefly
activate some of them in order to locate and retrieve them.
The FBI is presently developing new guidelines for the use of GPS devices to
cover the broader implications of the court decision beyond the use of GPS
tracking. As the Supreme Court held that agents had committed a trespass in
placing the GPS on Jones' vehicle, Weissmann indicated they are "wrestling
with the legality of whether agents can lift up the lid of a trash can
without committing trespass." He also indicated that the FBI is evaluating
whether or not "a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the
totality of their movements, even if those movements are in public"
according to the Wall Street Journal article.
Meanwhile in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the sponsor of a bill, HB 807,
that would have outlawed most uses of GPS tracking by private investigators
again on February 27 made a last-ditch attempt to have a Senate Committee
vote a second time on his measure which had been defeated last week.
ISPLA's executive committee member Nicole Bocra reports:
Today, several investigators were in Richmond for the Senate Courts of
Justice Meeting. Once again the Senate, in all its wisdom, voted NO to
HB807. Thank you to PIAVA, PISA, ISPLA and our wonderful lobbyist, James
Towey for all your hard work. We appreciate everyone who attended the
sessions including Leon Baker who supported our efforts and those who
contacted their legislators! Thank you! This bill is dead and cannot be
reintroduced this year!
Stay tuned as ISPLA addresses aspects of the U.S. Supreme Court decision
relative to future anti-GPS tracking legislation expected in other states.
Bruce Hulme, ISPLA Director of Government Affairs
Join ISPLA today! - Go to <http://www.ispla.org/
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