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GPS Tracking

 
A GPS tracking unit is a device that uses the Global Positioning System to determine the precise location of a vehicle, person, or other asset to which it is attached and to record the position of the asset at regular intervals. The recorded location data can be stored within the tracking unit, or it may be transmitted to a central location data base, or internet-connected computer, using a cellular (GPRS or SMS), radio, or satellite modem embedded in the unit. This allows the asset's location to be displayed against a map backdrop either in real time or when analysing the track later, using GPS tracking software.
 
An Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of Filip Danney on marijuana charges. Mr. Danney's conviction came after police stopped his car on a return trip to Idaho from California, a trip they were tracking with the use of a GPS tracking device placed on Mr. Danney's car without a warrant. Though Mr. Danney was pulled over for failure to signal for five seconds prior to changing lanes, police had been tracking him after an anonymous tip told police that Mr. Danney was trafficking marijuana.
 
Danney appealed his conviction on Fourth Amendment grounds, saying that police tracking of his vehicle without warrant was a violation of his right against illegal search. However, the Idaho Court of Appeals rejected Mr. Danney's argument, deciding that under a recent Idaho Supreme Court decision, Danney had failed to show that warrantless use of a GPS tracking device was “clear error.” The Court held that, because the law on warrantless GPS tracking was not settled law, the lower court had not made a clear error in accepting the warrantless tracking.
 
The decision by the Idaho court reveals the continuing lack of clarity in the use of warrantless GPS tracking. Without clear guidance by higher courts, we can expect many states to continue allowing prosecutions derived from warrantless GPS tracking, with others holding this a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment.

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