May 12, 2009 By Wayne Hanson
Image: Example of a GPS tracking system as used for school busses.
Today, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that State Police overstepped its authority when an investigator put a GPS tracking device - called a Q-ball -- inside the bumper of a suspect's van and monitored the van's location for 65 days without a warrant. A county court allowed, as evidence, GPS readings which showed the defendant drove slowly across the parking lot of a store on the evening it was burglarized.
The appeal was based on the state Constitution which states that citizens "have a reasonable expectation that their every move will not be continuously and indefinitely monitored by a technical device without their knowledge, except where a warrant has been issued on probable cause," said the court's decision. "The dissenting justice granted defendant leave to appeal and we now reverse."
The decision then takes up the matter of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and its applicability to warrantless GPS tracking.