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News Link • Bill of Rights

Upheld: Government's Right to Track Your Every Move With GPS

• news.yahoo.com/s
 
Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn't violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway - and no reasonable expectation that the government isn't tracking your movements. That is the bizarre - and scary - rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants - with no need for a search warrant. (See a TIME photoessay on Cannabis Culture.) It is a dangerous decision - one that, as the dissenting judges warned, could turn America into the sort of totalitarian state imagined by George Orwell. It is particularly offensive because the judges added insult to injury with some shocking class bias: the little personal privacy that still exists, the court suggested, should belong mainly to the rich. This case began in 2007, when Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents decided to monitor Juan Pineda-Moreno, an Oregon resident who they suspected was growing marijuana. They snuck onto his property in the middle of the night and found his Jeep in his driveway, a few feet from his trailer home. Then they attached a GPS tracking device to the vehicle's underside. After Pineda-Moreno challenged the DEA's actions, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled in January that it was all perfectly legal. More disturbingly, a larger group of judges on the circuit, who were subsequently asked to reconsider the ruling, decided this month to let it stand. (Pineda-Moreno has pleaded guilty conditionally to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and manufacturing marijuana while appealing the denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained with the help of GPS.)

2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Lola Flores
Entered on:

"By comparison with that existing today, all the tyrannies of the past were always infected to some extent by liberal ideas, and were content to leave loose ends everywhere, to regard only the overt act, and to be uninterested in what their subjects were thinking.  Even the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was tolerant by modern standards.  Part of the reason for this was that in the past no government had the power to keep its citizens under constant surveillance.  The invention of print, however, made it easier to manipulate public opinion, and the film and the radio carried the process further.  With the development of television, and the technical advance which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end.  Every citizen, or at least every citizen important enough to be worth watching, could be kept for twenty-four hours a day under the eyes of the police and in the sound of official propaganda, with all other channels of communication closed.  The possibility of enforcing not only complete obedience to the will of the State, but complete uniformity of opinion on all subjects, now existed for the first time."  George Orwell, "1984"

Comment by Lola Flores
Entered on:

"By comparison with that existing today, all the tyrannies of the past were half-hearted and inefficient.  The ruling groups were always infected to some ends everywhere, to regard only the overt act, and to be uninterested in what their subjects were thinking.  Even the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was tolerant by modern  standards.  Part of the reason for this was that in the past no government had the power to keep its citizens under constant surveillance.  The invention of print, however, made it easier to manipulate public opinion, and the development of television, and the technical  advance which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end.  Every citizen, or at least every citizen important enough to be worth watching, could be kept for twenty-four hours a day under the eyes of the police and in the sound of official propaganda, with all other channels of communication closed.  The possibility of enforcing not only complete obedience to the will of the State, but complete uniformity of opinion on all subjects, now existed for the first time."  George Orwell, "1984"


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