At last a bit of sanity. It seems that among the push for more intrusions into citizen privacy there may be a few roadblocks on the path to our Orwellian future. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that law enforcement must obtain a warrant before placing GPS tracking on people’s vehicles.
“We hold that the government’s installation of a GPS device on a target’s vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements, constitutes a ‘search,’” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote.
Now this may seem like a no-brainer decision but so does the question of corporate personhood. Although the ruling was unanimous the reasoning behind it was not. The point is, the people got a win today. Freedom was upheld. Privacy was defended.
Since 9/11, law enforcement, the government and other investigative agencies and firms have been pushing the boundaries on privacy further and further. Certainly new technologies will continue to be created but that doesn’t mean our core principles have to be violated just because the ability to do so more easily is now there. Technology is supposed to aid us in our everyday life not threaten the rights and civil liberties we’ve been fighting other countries under the notion of protecting.
It was also indicated then this decision may apply to other tracking situations. Being constantly tracked by way of cell phone has become another privacy concern as of late because of the revelation of embedded software by Carrier IQ. The Carrier IQ software could not only track a person’s location but also their keystrokes and text messages among other things.
Monday’s ruling applies directly to tracking devices that police install on a person’s car or other property. But five of the justices suggested in concurring statements that a warrant might similarly be required for high-tech tracking done through cellphones or other devices already equipped with GPS.
Again this can also be more good news. But at the same time the fact
that these types of intrusions have to be defended and ultimately decided in the Supreme Court doesn’t bode well for other issues slipping by. NDAA anyone? These victories can be fought one case at a time but what needs to be dealt with is the atmosphere of paranoia, fear and lust for control that our society has to deal with that keeps bringing up these intrusive issues. Over the past decade we’ve been preyed upon by opportunistic self-serving fear mongers pushing the idea that the only way to protect us is to control us and monitor our every move. This has to change.
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin