Follow That Car?
A court in Nassau County, N.Y., is currently mulling a case in which a Nassau police officer installed a global positioning system (GPS) tracking device onto a car in 2002 and used it to gather information about the driver’s whereabouts for nearly a month.
The car was driven by Richard D. Lacey, accused of six thefts, but the tracking device was installed without a court order. Lacey’s attorney Bruce A. Barket requested that data obtained from the GPS device be disallowed as evidence on grounds that Lacey’s privacy rights were infringed upon. Nassau prosecutors assert that a court order was unnecessary because Lacey’s car was parked on a public street.
Nationwide, only a few cases of this nature are being considered; in 2003, the Washington state high court ruled that police officers in that state would need to obtain a warrant before they could place a GPS tracking device in a car. In February, a California judge ruled that prosecutors could use information obtained through GPS in the Scott Peterson murder case.
Civil rights advocates such as Jared Feuer of the Suffolk chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union are alarmed about “the constant threat of surveillance,” adding that there is currently nothing to prevent police from placing a GPS device on anyone’s vehicle. Det. Edward Goller of the Nassau Electronics Bureau said at a hearing it took him about six minutes to affix a cigarette pack-sized GPS device to the car Lacey drove.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the New York Newsday (05/01/04) P. A3; Lam, Chau .