U.S. Supreme Court

Jones Decision Spurs FBI to Disable 3,000 GPS Devices and to Consider Legality of Trash Can Trespass


The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on behalf of a defendant challenging GPS tracking has forced the FBI to change its procedures.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Jones, the FBI turned off about 3,000 GPS devices, many of them stuck underneath cars, according to FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann. The Wall Street Journal Digits blog covered his comments on Friday at a conference in San Francisco.

The Jones decision found that installing a GPS and using it to track a suspect for 28 days was a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion for five justices said the police conduct was a physical trespass that would have been considered a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when it was adopted.

Weissmann said the decision is spurring the FBI to develop new guidelines for the use of GPS devices and to consider broader implications, according to the Digits blog. One issue is whether agents can lift a trash can lid without committing a trespass.

Hat tip: How Appealing.

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