Once found in only very expensive devices, Global Positioning System (GPS) technology is becoming increasingly mainstream. GPS technology is typically found on most new cell phones, and will eventually be made available to all 182 million U.S. cell phone subscribers. The Federal Communications Commission requires cell phones to have tracking ability under its “Enhanced 911” or E911 rules, so that emergency responders can find accident victims.
In addition, non-phone GPS tracking devices are sold over the Internet for a few hundred dollars. These devices are used by police and private investigators to track the movements of a car.
The increasingly widespread use of location technology has raised fears about the federal government invading citizens’ privacy. Federal authorities can obtain a warrant to read a person’s location from their cell phone, or put their own tracking device on a person’s car without a court’s permission, since there is no expectation of privacy as long as the vehicle is in public, says Electronic Privacy Information Center senior counsel Chris Hoofnagle.
Despite the controversy, the widespread use of GPS is a benefit for law enforcement, says Special Agent Paul M. Moskal with the FBI.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Buffalo News (09/26/05) P. C1; Williams, Fred O.