Law Enforcement Wary Following Supreme Court GPS Surveillance Ruling

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 7 2012 6:04 PM

Law Enforcement Wary Following Supreme Court GPS Surveillance Ruling

In response to last month’s Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v Jones questioned the constitutionality of using GPS to track suspects, the FBI has instituted some changes. According to USA Today, the bureau is cutting back on its use of GPS in surveillance. An anonymous official USA Today spoke with says the change was implemented the day after the ruling came down. “[U]ntil further legal guidance is provided on the use of the technology,” more expensive humans are taking over for GPS in cases requiring surveillance. A Justice Department spokeswoman says that it, too, is “evaluating the ruling's implications.”

It’s no surprise that law enforcement is moving cautiously—and is a bit confused about what is OK and what is not with GPS technology. As Dahlia Lithwick explained in Slate, “In issuing the narrowest possible decision about the most consequential technological dilemma, the court has told us only that what the police did in this one instance was an unconstitutional search.”

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Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

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