Be very alarmed:
The union that represents Los Angeles police wants to be able to track you. Whenever. Wherever. For whatever reason.
Fortunately for you, the U.S. Surpreme Court this week said cops can't attach GPS tracking devices to your car without a judge's okay. (Whew). That hasn't stopped the Los Angeles Police Protective League from whining about it, though:
The union today called the high court decision “a setback for law enforcement at all levels.”
Yeah, because cops, who can really detain you on a whim and even take your car on the spot if they believe you've committed multiple driving violations need more power.
The LAPPL says it's not “unreasonable for anyone driving on a public street to expect their movements to go unmonitored.”
Um. Really? Has life in Los Angeles turned into a Bourne franchise?
The court case focused on a Washington state man who was convicted on drug charges with the help of warrant-less, covert GPS tracking. (Guess he made a lot of trips to Quinton's house).
The court said that violated the man's reasonable expectation of privacy.
While Google, Foursquare and Facebook seem to pretty much know where we are at all times, we'd have to agree with the justices on this one: At least you can usually opt out of modern-day location services.
Actually, the union praises the fact that the decision did not rule out mining your smartphone for location data, which cops can do if you're arrested:
… The ruling provided no clear guidance on whether the government must obtain a warrant for access to such things as location data stored on an individual's smartphone, or to emails archived by internet service providers.
The Obama administration's Justice Department actually argued for GPS tracking, saying that police can already legally launch surveillance on you — “even Supreme Court justices” (yeah, I'd like to see them try that) — and come up with pretty much the same facts.
If you're being shadowed by police, though, at least you can look over your shoulder and shut the blinds. With GPS devices you have no chance of privacy.
Can you imagine the possibilities? GPS technology could be used to prove traffic violations, which could turn into another ticket's-in-the-mail cash machine for financially strapped cities like L.A.
We're happy the Supreme Court doesn't want cops tracking your every move without a judge's approval. It would have been un-American.