Court Decides Cops Need No Warrant To Place GPS Trackers

A Wisconsin Court ruled that the police did not need a warrant to put a GPS tracker on anyone’s vehicle. The case involved a man who was accused of stalking a person and the police obtained a warrant and placed a GPS on his car. They were able to determine that he was in fact stalking. So far, so good because they got a warrant.

The stalker, Michael Sveum, went to court to argue that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated and that police were able to track him in the privacy of his home (his car was parked in a garage). The court ruled that the tracker was not a search or seizure so Sveum’s rights were not violated. They did have a warrant for the tracker. So far, still so good.

Then the court ruled that a warrant was not necessary to put a GPS tracker on a vehicle even if the person who owns the car is not under suspicion of anything. In essence, if the cops want to track you they can even if they have no reason. The court ruled that the tracker does not provide any more information than the police could obtain by observing a person.

Does this mean they no longer require warrants to tap a phone? The tap does not provide any more information than the cops could have obtained if they were there listening.

The police should have some probable cause to follow a person and this includes putting trackers on cars. If there is no probable cause then they should not be allowed to place tracking devices on vehicles. This is why warrants are necessary. The warrants ensure that the police have a valid reason for tracking people (or listening in on them). There are laws that cover surveillance where a warrant is not needed but, in general, GPS trackers would not fall into that category.

This ruling is moronic and it opens the process to great abuse. Police officers could use trackers to track a person for profit (as in following some guy for a wife who thinks he is cheating). The police could put trackers on cars and then wait until they are parked at bars. They could then send police officers to follow the car when it leaves and invent probable cause to pull the person over and see if he has been drinking.

The process is in place to ensure the rights of the people. The guy in this case had no ground to stand on because the police had a warrant but the ruling now gives police officers greater access to the public and provides a greater possibility of abuse.

If I ever found a tracker on my car I would take it off and put it on a freight train heading across the country.

It is a sad day in America when a court decides that the police can tamper with private property whenever they want.

I wonder what will happen when a cop is placing one of these in the middle of the night and gets shot as a suspected car thief…

Could happen.*

*This was edited to remove words that conveyed a different thought than intended.

Big Dog

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One Response to “Court Decides Cops Need No Warrant To Place GPS Trackers”

  1. Blake says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I am all about supporting the police, but this ruling is flat out ignorant, it infringes on the privacy clause, because the reasoning doesn’t work after the first glance, because the court said even if the person is not under suspicion. If a person is not under suspicion, the officer would not be following the person, ergo, the GPS tracker is overtly onerous, and not at all analogous to the situation as expressed in the opinion. It is a constant erosion on our right to privacy to even consider this.