FBI turns off 3,000 GPS trackers after Supreme Court ruling
By Sean Gallagher
Andrew Weissmann, general counsel for the FBI, has announced that his agency is switching off thousands of Global Positioning System-based tracking devices used for surveillance after a Supreme Court decision last month. Weissmann made the statement during a University of San Francisco School of Law symposium on communications privacy this past Friday. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Weissmann said the ruling in the US vs. Jones case, which broadly limited the use of warrantless GPS tracking devices, brought about a "sea change" at the Justice Department.
The ruling (PDF), issued on January 23, held that placing a GPS device on the underbody of a car constitutes a search and requires a valid warrant. In the case of Antoine Jones, law enforcement agents obtained a warrant to place a GPS tracker on a car registered to Jones based on evidence suggesting he was involved in drug trafficking. However, the warrant expired before agents actually installed the device, and the GPS tracker was eventually installed in a different jurisdiction from the one the warrant had even authorized. The Justice Department claimed Jones had no reasonable expectation of privacy because he was driving on public roads.