This 9-0 decision holds that the Government cannot attach a GPS devise to a vehicle to obtain travel information of vehicles whereabouts. The court in holding the GPS as an unreasonable search relied heavily upon the 4th Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches. This case is the first dealing with GPS information that holds it was unreasonable for the government to trespass upon the defendant’s vehicle. The Court’s reliance on common law trespass leaves many unanswered issues. There are increasingly advanced technologies that do not require any physical trespass yet provide information to the government. The long term effect of the Jones decision remains to be seen. What about satellites, drones, cell phones, security cameras, micro chips none of which require any physical trespass?
It will be interesting to see. This decision is a positive development for the 4th Amendment and bodes positively as it seems to indicate that at the Supreme Court there are limits to government action. However, the reasoning may enable the government to side step the issue in the future with advanced technology that doesn’t require any physical trespass.
UNITED STATES v. JONES