EFF recently joined several legal defense organizations, law professors and others to urge the Ohio Supreme Court to rule that warrantless surveillance of a car with a GPS tracking device violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.
In State v. Johnson, the police planted a GPS tracking device on a van without a search warrant. They proceeded to monitor the van for days, ultimately tracking its movement from Cincinnati to Chicago. The Court of Appeals found that the police didn't violate the Fourth Amendment's guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure because the tracking didn't constitute a "search."
Joining an amicus brief filed by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the First Amendment Lawyers Association, the ACLU of Ohio, the Office of the Ohio Public Defender, and seven law professors, EFF warned the Ohio Supreme Court that such prolonged surveillance and monitoring implicates an individual’s right to privacy. Simply traveling on a public road does not mean law enforcement can know your every move at any time of the day, wherever you go, whether it is to see your lawyer, doctor, priest or lover. Plus, warrantless GPS surveillance allows law enforcement to access private property they wouldn’t be authorized to enter by simply following a car.
NACDL counsel on the brief were Michael Price and Ravert J. Clark, who served as EFF’s local counsel.