I was reading this opinion piece in the NY Times today on "Privacy, Technology, and Law," and it wrestles with the question of what is protected as "privacy" in the US given the vast technological changes. At issue specifically was a case where the court held that GPS surveillance of a suspect's car violated the fourth amendment. (The fourth amendment to the US Constitution protects against "unreasonable searches and seizures," which requires police to have probable cause and secure a search warrant from a judge.)
While privacy advocates will see this as good news, the columnist in this article identified some "slippery slope" logic by the justices that may open the door for massive privacy violations in the future. For instance, one of the issues raised is "reasonable expectations of privacy." This, of course, is a subjective issue, because our rights could change as technology does. This, then, flies in the face of the concept of "fundamental rights."
It's an engaging little piece. What do you think? Should the police be allowed to collect the information we share with third parties without a warrant? (Think GPS provider, bank, email, texts...) Sound off below.
A GPS device on a car may have been installed by a "trespasser", but the person was caught in the act of crimes, so clearly there was adequate cause for suspicion. What are the supreme court guys hiding about their activities? Bugging a car would be invasion of privacy, but the GPS just did the same thing that following the car would have done, just a whole lot cheaper and safer. What about the times one is followed by the police just waiting for one to make a traffic mistake?
Of course, when I really want true privacy I go in the house and draw the blinds. PLus I turn off the cell phone.
Whatever powers we grant to police will be abused at some point. Our rules of evidence try to counter this by requiring a warrant from a court in order to obtain evidence by intrusive searches.
Police usually insist that there are cases when there is not time to consult the court first, and courts sometimes grant exemptions for such situations, and then police keep stretching these ruling to abusive lengths ...
I generally think we should allow reasonable exceptions, but balance this with a requirement for disclosure after the fact. I.e., if the police want to bug my phone with or without a warrant, they should have to tell me after the investigation has ended that they did so. Maybe the "timeout" should be 12 months, subject to an extension with the approval of a court if the investigation is not yet concluded.
A difficult question, then, is why the French govt. and Airbus sued the US govt. and Boing about "intercepted" cell phone conversations regarding business negotiations? Don't for one minute think that what you presume to be a private discussion or data transmission, is in fact not being monitored and filtered. Moreover, regarding the earlier comment by Duane, do not presume for a moment that money cannot or does not corrupt a process that should be maintaining "justice for all".
As has been seen in real lives and was packaged in many books (one notable older one "The Count of Monte Cristo"), all too often in history the deprivation of privacy and freedom is for financial and/or political gain. I for one am a skeptic that electronic "wireless tapping" is any less dangerous than what was being done by the FBI in the 1950's and 1960's in the Hoover era.
The constitution gave us Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Privacy is only granted to those who in no way harm anyone else. Once you become a person of interest, the authorities can use any and all information to prove your guilt or innocense.
It is a very fine point as to when your privacy may and may not be impaired. In some respects, would you rather have your privacy violated or your freedom? In some instances, that is your real choice.
Good point, but many people who love to cite the U.S. Constitution as the law of the land fail to acknowledge subsequent court decisions that provide legal interpretations of the content. Privacy seems to have a different definition depending upon who you ask. Many people do not realize how much information about them is actually available for the right price.
I think we are about to or may have already lost the "it costs money" barrier to being tracked. I've been hearing more and more about systems that are capable of logging all cars that drive past a certain point. Facial recognition technology is scary-good at this point as well.
It's not much of a stretch to see traffic cams as well as any other public cameras being used in concert to record movements of masses of people.
I don't see that as inherently harmful. However, humans, especially those in governments have a long history of misusing information. I'm all in favor of giving police good tools to catch the bad guys. I just don't see them always making good calls as to who is and is not a bad guy. That's what the warrant process is for; to be a check and balance.
Privacy is not a "fundamental right" and not explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution. Those privacy rights that individuals do have are the result of years of court interpretations, specifically the interpretations of the 1st (privacy of beliefs), 3rd (privacy of the home), 4th (privacy of person & possessions) and 5th (protection against self-incrimination) amendments. Those interpretations and the individual rights that flow from them have evolved over time, and it should be expected that they will also evolve with technology.
Think about how many times per day the average urban resident unknowingly has his or her photo taken by traffic cameras, security cameras, etc. Whether one is bothered by that or not, we have no expectations of privacy when we are out in public. We are not forced by law to drive cars, use cell phones or GPS receivers, or online banking or email or social networks, or even to leave our homes for that matter. But when we do any of those things, we should be mindful that someone may be watching or listening or tracking -- if they have good reason to do so -- and there is nothing illegal about that...and never has been.
If I remember the case it was not just a matter of GPS tracking of the car. The suit was based on the putting onto the car the GPS device while it was parked in the driveway. The issue was trespassing in the course of installing the tracking device. Now, all that said, what about the use of cell phone GPS information without a warrant? Where do we draw the line? If you are not breaking the law then what do you have to worry about? Well, what if you are not breaking the law but a law enforcement entity wants to target you for some reason (not based on an investigation)? There should be clear laws written to define what is and is not allowed; if a warrant is needed or not; and a process in place to enforce the laws.