It was predicted long ago that sooner or later the Global Positioning System (better known as GPS) would raise many questions in the sphere of privacy. Today these predictions pay for themselves and GPS often becomes the negative message of the day. The US Supreme Court decisions on GPS added fuel to the flame.
The story of GPS started in 1970’s when the US Department of Defense suggested inserting several satellites into the orbit in such a way that they always stay at the certain position and monitor a specific place. They constantly maintain a connection with other satellites and land-based objects to be able to provide the latest update on their observation site to any web-connected receiver.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Global Positioning System has found its way to the modern technology. The vast majority of present-day gadgets uses GPS possibilities one way or another. It is really convenient in the devices aimed for navigation: with their help, the user will never get lost and will be able to find a necessary place by the address. Parents take advantage of GPS for tracking kids’ location. They also use an interesting feature called geofencing: when a kid enters forbidden area or leaves the designated safe zone, parents get a notification. Employers use GPS to control couriers and drivers of their companies who for their part exploit GPS to navigate to the unfamiliar locations. These are only a few of ways of embracing this useful technology. It is free to use in any part of the world, and anyone with the Internet access and GPS-connected device can benefit from it.
What privacy issues can GPS cause?
Law enforcement authorities took advantage of GPS by using tracking devices to monitor transitions of suspects. They can attach devices to the cars and get all necessary information easily and without suspects even knowing about it. Plus, they use information from cell providers regarding the location of the person according to the nearest cell tower. Such approach was acknowledged as unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court and has created uproar after the case of United States vs. Jones.
The publicity was shocked by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito who has admitted that people today had to face up to the development of the technologies as they were the part of nowadays life. There is a rational kernel in his words: our handheld devices track our GPS location and still, we do not refuse to use them in order to protect our privacy.
Taking into consideration the fact that any GPS-enabled device uses the government-owned system, no wonder that there is a possibility that government would like to use the collected information. However, no one is going to insert tracking devices on your property. Within the bounce of the law, the users of GPS-connected device willingly give out the information about their location.
What are the reasons of such law precautions? First and foremost, let us not forget the motives of the so-called invasive laws: the main reason for their existence is the protection of citizens from terrorists, and after 9/11 you will hardly find a person who will say something against these precautions. Today it is generally thought that if you are against these laws, then there is a pretty good chance that you have something to hide.
Because of this, using Global Positioning System to track the location of the criminals is possible, although in some cases can be considered unconstitutional.
Abilities to defend your rights in case you believe your privacy has been broken is quite limited, and for the most part, your complaint will be taken as an evidence of suspicious activity.