The outcome in United States v. Jones may depend on whether the Court fears the asphalt jungle more than the world of Big Brother
You're driving down the street. Detective Sergeant Joe Friday follows you for a few blocks. Has he violated the Fourth Amendment's ban on "unreasonable searches and seizures"? The courts, and common sense, say no.
Okay, would you find it acceptable if Friday secretly attached a Global Positioning System transmitter to your car and use a computer to track everywhere it goes, 24 hours a day, for a month?
No? What have you got to hide?
Your reactions are actually relevant, because under Fourth Amendment precedent, a "search" occurs when the government invades a "reasonable expectation of privacy" -- either in the home or in any place where a citizen might reasonably think he or she was protected from observation. The Supreme Court today wrestled with a difficult question: do most Americans think we live in the carefree days of Joe Friday on stake-out or in the dystopian future of Person of Interest?
The story you are about to read is true. The FBI and the DC Police gathered enough evidence against Antoine Jones to get a warrant allowing them to attach a GPS to Jones's wife's car, where it issued position data for 28 days, mapping the car's visits to a "stash house" where the drug shipments were kept. Eventually, the information led to the seizure of "approximately 97 kilograms of powder cocaine, almost one kilogram of crack cocaine, approximately $850,000 in cash, and various items used to process and package narcotics." A jury convicted Jones of conspiracy to distribute narcotics.