Should law enforcement need a warrant for location tracking

This particular article, discusses the current issue of whether the police and law enforcement agencies should be required to   obtain a warrant before they conduct any type of location-based tracking. For example, several members of the Constitution Project’s Library Committee believe that by using electronic and      digital techniques to track individuals is violating the Fourth Amendment rights, which protects you from unreasonable search and seizures. This has been a current issue, because the FBI has recently been using GPS tracking devices to monitor and run surveillance on dangerous criminals. Also, in today’s society many   people can easily be tracked down and monitored using the GPS   location devices found right on their phone. For many people, this has been a privacy concern, because they can easily be monitored no matter where they are, which could potentially reveal  personal and private information about that particular individual.      In my opinion, though I believe that law enforcement should not be required to obtain a search warrant before using GPS to track someone down, because this makes it so much faster and easier for them to track down and arrest dangerous criminals.

4 thoughts on “Should law enforcement need a warrant for location tracking”

  1. I have to say I respectfully disagree. I understand why you feel the way you do and it is a genuine concern we all should share. I do feel this tracking is able to catch terrorists and hard criminals and does certainly make our lives safer. So I get why anyone, especially a law abiding citizen, would prefer that law enforcement be free to track any criminal at will. The problem I have is with the “at will” part. I see it like this…Let’s say a person – we will call Mr. X- was suspected of drug trafficking by some a law enforcement agency. Mr.X however was not involved in drug trafficking at all. During the investigation however he was tracked to a weekly game of poker with a group in the backroom of a bar. Now gambling is illegal, and the game should be shut down and the people arrested. But should that law enforcement agency have known about it at all? Should they be able to arrest Mr. X for gambling even though that is not what they were watching him for in the first place? What if the gambling was across state lines and the law enforcement agency that tracked him was local to a different state?
    The easy answer is to say “who cares- guilty is guilty”, but if that is the case then where does it stop? Should state troopers be able to use your cars gps to track how fast you are driving on the interstate? I do like the protection that tracking without a warrant provides…but I don’t think law enforcement agencies will draw the line by themselves. That is what requiring a warrant does.

  2. I can definitely see where you are coming from, because yes the police shouldn’t be allowed to just do what ever they want and just track someone for no apparent reason. Also, even though the police really shouldn’t have been looking for gambling activity while doing a drug investigation, the individual under surveillance should still face consequences for their actions. For me, I could personally care less whether the police are tracking me via GPS, i have done nothing illegal and i have nothing to hide. Other people though, may feel different about this topic, but I the police to some extent should be able to do what they can to catch criminal and lower the crime rate.

  3. I believe you make a valid point. @sturtevantalicia brings up the point of tracking suspected criminals without the need of a search warrant. Its a nice idea in theory, but no-doubt there would be people who would abuse their power. Its to no surprise, some cops would abuse their power and use it to their own personal advantage.

    Another topic that goes along with this- is the right to search the contents of phones and computers without a search warrant. I believe there aren’t any laws concerning this issue. Personally I think police agencies should need warrants before using a persons location data or searching through electronics that contain personal information. Its not much different than searching a private home.

    Although I have nothing to hide- I still like the protection that a search warrant provides.

  4. This is another interesting point that you bring up, because yes I can definitely see how some law enforcement officers can easily abuse their rights and powers. However, I still believe that law enforcement should not be required to obtain a search warrant to use GPS tracking systems, but these techniques should only be used to catch criminals or to monitor suspicious individuals. For example, law enforcement should not be able to just track or monitor any random person for no apparent reason, because then they would be abusing their powers. Also, once again police officers should only be able to search personal cellphones or computers to help them aid in solving an investigation or to catch a criminal.

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