New Technology Same Old Constitution
Do you have an expectation of privacy when you drive down the road? Would you be offended if police observed you on the highway? What if they installed cameras to record speeding violations or other traffic violations? What if they installed a GPS device on your car without your knowledge or consent? According to an Ohio trial court, it’s okay. The defendants in the case argued that the police violated their Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. But the key term there was “reasonable.” The court saw it like this: “[A] reasonable expectation of privacy” does not exist for those parking and traveling on public roads. “The device was attached to a vehicle found on public property” and “monitored their travel in public and at no time did the defendant attempt to shield the vehicle from the public.” Counsel for the defense, as you might expect, disagreed, “[It’s] “a sad day for all (of) us who believe in the Constitution. It says that police can put a GPS device on any of our cars, without probable cause, without a court order, and follow us indefinitely.” I suspect this will not be the end of this discussion. That’s what appellate courts are for. And while I agree that you’re in the public eye when you you’re on a public highway, it seems to me you do have a right to expect that someone won’t stick something on your car without your consent. I’d be pretty ticked off for example, if someone stuck a St. Louis Cardinals bumper sticker on my car while it was parked on a public street. I don’t know why I don’t have the right to be equally upset when the police affix a GPS device.