The Supreme Court issued a ruling on January 23, 2012, which held that the Government's attachment of a GPS device to a vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment.
In the case, United States v. Jones, agents installed a GPS tracking device on the undercarriage of the Jeep while it was parked in a public parking lot. Over the next 28 days, the Government used the device to track the vehicle's movements, and once had to replace the device's battery when thevehicle was parked in a different public lot in Maryland. By means of signals from multiple satellites, the deviceestablished the vehicle's location within 50 to 100 feet, and communicated that location by cellular phone to a Government computer. It relayed more than 2,000 pages of data over the 4-week period.
The Government ultimately obtained a multiple-countindictment charging Jones and several alleged coconspirators with, as relevant here, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms ormore of cocaine and 50 grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U. S. C. §§841 and 846. Before trial, Jones filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained through the GPS device. The District Court granted the motion only in part, suppressing the data obtained while the vehicle was parked in the garage adjoining Jones's residence. 451
F. Supp. 2d 71, 88 (2006). It held the remaining data admissible, because "'[a] person traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another.' " Ibid. (quoting United States v. Knotts, 460 U. S. 276, 281 (1983)).
The Supreme Court reversed and found that the actions of the government constituted an illegal search.
The opinion may be found at the following link: