FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Don't look now, but Big Brother may be watching you and apparently there is nothing you can do about it.
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Time Magazine reports that in California and eight other western states the government can sneak onto your property, plant a GPS device on the bottom of your car, and track everywhere you go.
And it's all perfectly legal. An appeals court has ruled that the government can monitor you like this almost anytime it wants - and without a search warrant.
The case started in 2007, when government agents decided to monitor an Oregon resident they thought was growing marijuana. They snuck onto his driveway in the middle of the night and attached a GPS tracking device to the bottom of his Jeep. When the man challenged the government's actions, the Ninth Circuit ruled twice that what the government did was okay.
This kind of activity has more in common with the KGB than with a free country like ours. Whatever happened to a citizen's reasonable expectation of privacy? Well, the court ruled the man's driveway isn't private since strangers or delivery people can access it. This also means that rich people - with gated driveways, fences and security gates - often have larger areas of "privacy."
But there is a glimmer of hope in all this. Another appeals court in the District of Columbia recently ruled that tracking for an extended time with GPS is an invasion of privacy and it requires a warrant. All this will likely wind up in the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, one conservative judge who's against this kind of spying put it this way, "1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it's here at last."
Here’s my question to you: Should the government be able to track you using a GPS but without a warrant?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Dear Jack, you are behind the times on this one. Some new iPhones, etc. have a feature where for about $12 per month you can track anyone instantly. All you need is their cell phone number. Bingo - it shows a picture as seen from above of your exact location right down to the building you are in.
Though this kind of Orwellian spying feels to me a gross violation of privacy, it seems there is a simple way around it. Being that this practice is protected by the ruling that driveways are not explicitly private, one need only make his or her driveway obviously explicitly private. A sign reading "all law enforcement officials bearing GPS hardware and without proper and appropriate warrants are prohibited" might work.
Victor in West Hempstead, New York (a police officer) writes:
Any kind of government surveillance into the private lives of citizens should ALWAYS go hand-in-hand with a detailed search warrant.
This is absolutely an invasion of privacy! Unless the government is tracking potential illegal aliens. Then all bets are off.
Mark in Carbondale, Illinois writes:
So can we assume it would be legal to sneak on the property of police officers and judges to plant GPS devices on their cars so we can monitor where they go?
Dave in Orlando writes:
Exactly what more can they possibly hope to learn? As of now they can track us by our cell phones, computers, and several other electronic devices. They know what we say in our e-mails and on the phone (any phone); they know what we are thinking as we do our Google searches. They know what is in our bank accounts, in our portfolios, all our personal property, any real estate we own and how much money we make.
Buster in Poughkeepsie writes:
No way Jack! The last thing we need is for you to get busted for stalking Sarah Palin.