Sunday, September 11, 2011

Court Case Asks if ‘Big Brother’ Is Spelled GPS - Government's over-reaching surveillance system

When Judges around the country cite the novel, 1984, as legal precedent maybe that's a sign that Big Brother is alive and well and quietly monitoring everything we do.  The issue is the GPS features in cell phones, and the Fourth Ammendment's promise of protection against Government invasion of our privacy.  A recent NY Times article gives a litany of court cases involving GPS devices, GPS features of cell phones, and the repeated invocation of a novel, 1984, as legal precedent. Judge Diane P. Wood of the federal appeals court in Chicago wrote about GPS-based surveillance saying “make the system that George Orwell depicted in his famous novel, ‘1984,’ seem clumsy.” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the federal appeals court in San Francisco wrote that “1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it’s here at last.” Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn denied a government request for over 3 months of "location data from cellphone towers" calling it an “Orwellian intrusion” and asking whether the courts must “begin to address whether revolutionary changes in technology require changes to existing Fourth Amendment doctrine.” In November the Supreme Court will hear United States v. Jones, No. 10-1259 which will "will address a question that has divided the lower courts: Do the police need a warrant to attach a GPS device to a suspect’s car and track its movements for weeks at a time?"

Today we routinely carry devices that track our every move (cell phones, cars, toll collection passes, etc) and those devices give us valuable information we use in our lives.  For example I frequently whip out my iPhone or iPad and use the Map feature to figure out where i am and how to get to a location.  That Map feature determines my location using both GPS circuits and interpolated location information from cellphone towers.

The Supreme Court case is itself an appeal of an earlier decision by a 3 judge Appeals Court panel ruling that the government is seeking too much information.


Source: Court Case Asks if ‘Big Brother’ Is Spelled GPS

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