Each day, individuals use technological devices to make their lives easier. One such device is the Global Positioning System (GPS), which has increasingly gained popularity in recent years. Police use of GPS in robbery, drug, murder and other investigations has also increased. Several high profile cases have brought the law enforcement uses of GPS into the public eye and elicited a public response. Warrantless installation and monitoring of these devices for up to months at a time have been challenged as unreasonable Fourth Amendment searches. The U.S. Supreme Court has not decided on the constitutional issues raised by police GPS monitoring. Recent cases such as United States v. Maynard and United States v. Pineda-Moreno illustrate the lack of consistency in the federal courts’ approach in addressing the Fourth Amendment implications raised by these devices. This Note examines the Fourth Amendment issues surrounding both the installation and monitoring of GPS units. It examines the disagreement among the courts in dealing with the warrantless installation of the GPS device, as well as the federal circuit split regarding monitoring. This Note asserts that a reasonable expectation of privacy exists in both the installation and monitoring of a GPS unit in light of several considerations: property interests, public exposure, the nature of the police intrusion, and the type and quantity of information obtained. The differences between the former and current technology also point to a reasonable expectation of privacy. Ultimately, this Note advocates a warrant requirement for both the installation and monitoring of GPS devices to uphold the protections of the Fourth Amendment. A clear warrant requirement developed by the Supreme Court or Congress would protect individual rights while providing appropriate guidance to law enforcement officers moving forward.
Kaitlyn A. Kerrane,
Keeping Up With Officer Jones: A Comprehensive Look at the Fourth Amendment and GPS Surveillance ,
79 Fordham L. Rev. 1695
Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/flr/vol79/iss4/8