Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fed Privacy Does Not Exist in ‘Public Places’

David Kravets at Wired writes
The Obama administration has urged a federal appeals court to allow the government, without a court warrant, to affix GPS devices on suspects’ vehicles to track their every move.

The Justice Department is demanding a federal appeals court rehear a case in which it reversed the conviction and life sentence of a cocaine dealer whose vehicle was tracked via GPS for a month, without a court warrant. The authorities then obtained warrants to search and find drugs in the locations where defendant Antoine Jones had travelled.

The administration, in urging the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to reverse a three-judge panel’s August ruling from the same court, said Monday that Americans should expect no privacy while in public.

“The panel’s conclusion that Jones had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the public movements of his Jeep rested on the premise that an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the totality of his or her movements in public places, ” Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Smith wrote the court in a petition for rehearing.

The case is an important test of privacy rights as GPS devices have become a common tool in crime fighting, and can be affixed to moving vehicles by an officer shooting a dart. Three other circuit courts have already said the authorities do not need a warrant for GPS vehicle tracking, Smith pointed out.


The appeals court ruled the case “illustrates how the sequence of a person’s movements may reveal more than the individual movements of which it is composed.”

The court said that a person “who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.”
We the people instituted a form of government to protect our lives and our liberties. We certainly have natural rights. And especially those that we specifically documented to limit the government we set up to protect us.

But our employees- federal, state, and local agencies - are saying that they have no expectation of privacy.

I'm no legal expert, but and the courts seem to be saying that tracking Federal Employees, Judges, Directors/Staff of 3 letter agencies, State and Local bureaucrats - IS LEGAL. This is the new normal.

And by tracking them, it can be determined where they live, where their kids go to school, what church and gym they go to, what bars they hang out at, where they go fishing, where their cabin in the woods is.

We live in interesting times. But if there is no expectation of privacy, then and the courts are creating this new reality.