Thursday, December 29, 2016

How GPS Became a Human Tracking Mechanism

At the same time the Schwitzgebels were laying the conceptual and (to a lesser degree) technological groundwork for electronic monitoring of offenders, the criminal justice system was discovering the legal ramifications. In the U.S., this involved debates over the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against illegal searches and seizures — and how this edict dovetailed with the concept of privacy in the context of new technologies.

The first important test case, Katz v. United States, reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967. FBI agents had placed an electronic listening device in a phone booth they knew their target used to call in illegal gambling wagers. The court ruled that this practice violated the man’s Fourth Amendment rights, because although the phone booth was public space, its usage implied a reasonable expectation of privacy. The decision established the idea that Fourth Amendment protections did not begin and end with one’s home or private property, but also extended to spaces one occupies temporarily.

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