Due to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in U.S. v. Jones, the FBI has disabled about 3,000 GPS tracking devices it was using to keep track of suspects’ locations, according to the Wall St. Journal. The WSJ says FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann made the announcement Feb. 23 at a conference titled “Big Brother in the 21st Century.”
The FBI disabled the tracking devices in order to comply with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on warrantless GPS tracking.
Weissmann said the FBI had some difficulty gathering and disabling the GPS tracking devices. He added that the high court’s decision was causing the FBI to do an even broader re-evaluation of its investigative policies beyond the technological angle.
In January, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that placing a GPS tracking device on a vehicle constitutes a “search” within the definition of the Fourth Amendment and therefore requires a warrant to be constitutional.
The case began in 2005 when police officers went to a public parking lot in Maryland and secretly installed a GPS tracking device on a Jeep Grand Cherokee used by a Washington, D.C. nightclub owner, Antoine Jones.
Jones was suspected of drug trafficking and the police tracked his movements for a month. The resulting evidence played a key role in his conviction for conspiring to distribute cocaine.
Last month, the Supreme Court reversed the life sentence of Jones, saying the government violated Jones’ privacy rights in clandestinely tracking his movement for a month.
All nine justices agreed in upholding the appeals court decision, but at least four justices would have gone even further in finding fault not only with the attachment of the device, but also with the lengthy monitoring.