Last updated: June 1, 2012 - 8:30am
The US government told a federal appeals court that it still has the right to place Global Positioning System tracking devices on cars without obtaining a search warrant -- despite a January Supreme Court ruling that the warrantless installation of such a device violated the Constitution.
In arguments aimed at preserving warrantless GPS tracking evidence in a case before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department relied on the fact that the high court didn't specifically state that a search warrant would be required in other situations. The government maintains "that a warrant is not needed for a GPS search, as the Court…did not resolve that question," a Justice Department spokeswoman said. Nevertheless, she said, the department has "advised agents and prosecutors going forward to take the most prudent steps and obtain a warrant for new or ongoing investigations" in most cases. The government's awkward position -- saying search warrants are not needed but advising agents to seek warrants anyway -- highlights the unanswered questions about digital tracking techniques that remain in the wake of the court's privacy decision in U.S. v. Jones in January.
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