Justice Must Be Served

Tamario H. - LLI Cincinnati

I believe that if a person does not actively and knowingly consent to give away their GPS location, then it should not be given. This is a violation of the basic right that everyone has under the 4th amendment against searches and seizure. In this case particularly, the 4th amendment applies to the violation of searching and seizing GPS information from phone companies and other third party companies. This violation is unconstitutional and needs to be stopped.

To review the content of a person’s phone, it is believed that law enforcement must obtain a warrant first. This legal requirement is being overstepped time and time again. According to the passage That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker, “It appears that millions of cellphone users have been swept up in government surveillance of their calls and where they have made them from. Many police agencies don’t obtain search warrants when requesting location data from carriers."

Many justify this action by quoting the Stored Communications Act of 1986. This act allows law enforcement to obtain the transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectric or photo optical system that affects interstate or foreign commerce. 

Throughout this entire list of the things the stored communication act applies to, none of them are the location of  a device. This means that the location of a device should still be obtained through a search warrant.

By definition, a search is an examination of a person’s body, property, or other area that the person would reasonably be expected to consider as private, conducted by a law enforcement officer for the purpose of finding evidence of a crime. It is widely debated that the content of a person’s phone is considered to be private, so police would then need a warrant to review said content.

As stated in Carpenter v. United States case,” the government may obtain a [phone] record or other relevant information pertaining to a subscriber either through a warrant or through a court order. “Through this information a person can reasonably conclude that their location, provided through the phone company, would be protected. With that being said, GPS tracking should not be disclosed unless given to the police through a search warrant.

Law enforcement has continued to illegally obtain the location of cellular devices. The Stored Communications Act of 1986 does not give law enforcement the power to track devices, only to obtain the transfer of content from cellular devices to other entities. Even the constitution states that the government may obtain a phone record or other relevant information pertaining to a subscriber either through a warrant or through a court order. This illegal tracking needs to stop. Law enforcement continues to disregard these rules without consequences. They should be held accountable for their actions and justice must be served.