The U.S. Supreme Court took a stand for privacy last week and ruled that if government agencies want to use GPS to track somebody, they need a warrant. Perhaps more stunning than the constitutional reinforcement, was that it was unanimous. The Court has been polarized in recent years with many controversial issues being decided 5-4, reflecting the country’s political divide. Plenty of cases with the current court have been unanimous, but it is rarer for a decision that tackles the role of government to find commonality. It is tremendously reassuring that in a philosophical tug-of-war between government and individual liberty that the Fourth Amendment protections are intact.
The decision was nuanced in that the GPS device the police used in the case is not like the Tom-Tom or ap on one’s Smart Phone, but rather a separate device surreptitiously planted on a car to follow people. The more complex issue of authorities tapping into devices that everyday people are using was sidestepped. Government intrusion into individual liberty was central to Twitter’s revised policy that was immediately (and wrongly) labeled censorship.
In mid-January major Internet companies protested the proposed Internet censorship regulations. In November 2011 I wrote about the proposed legislation. In August 2011 I wrote about censorship in foreign lands and in the US. In May 2011 I wrote how Americans value secrets with nearly a million of our citizens carrying Top Secret clearances. My blog posts show a long term passion for privacy – where a GPS was nearly required to find examples of victories for freedom. Let’s hope that #trend is changing.