GPS tracking violates fourth amendment

Thomas Reilly

Carly Yamrus, Opinion Editor

George Orwell’s fictional novel “1984” follows a character living in a society in which their government continuously monitors their every move. Screens are used to watch people as they carry on with their daily activities at all times of the day.  The constant surveillance strips the society of its civil liberties and ultimately strengthens the government.

But Orwell’s novel was strictly fiction, right? Surely our government would never violate our natural rights and freedoms like that.

Well, they are now. While our surveillance may not be as drastic as the two-way television screens in Orwell’s novel, it’s getting pretty close. And all because of those ever-so-poplar electronic devices that 85 percent of Americans now own: the cell phone.

Whether you own a Smartphone, flip phone, keyboard or touch screen, the government is able to track your exact location through your service provider’s satellite signals. The information from your phone is stored for quite some time- up to a year- by the cell phone company. As long as your phone is turned on, your daily activities can be pieced together to reveal personal facts including habits, relationships and specific movements.

Without probable cause or warrant, cell phone tracking violates the Fourth Amendment which protects against unreasonable search and seizure. The amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.”

The use of GPS cell phone tracking clearly goes against this statement in that government can now watch you 24-hours-a-day in both public and private places.

While GPS tracking may be useful in certain situations, no technology should impede upon our constitutional rights as human beings. Technology has allowed every person’s privacy to be invaded without their knowledge, let alone their consent.  Many people are unaware that such advanced technology like this exists in the real world.

In today’s world, some people may not see privacy as a real issue as they voluntarily “check-in” their location to Facebook and other social networking sites.  All is well until someone uses your information against you. Technology has made it very easy for information to be collected and distributed with a simple click of a mouse. Privacy should never be taken for granted.

The Obama Administration supports GPS tracking, saying they have a right to track as many people as they want, for as long as they want, and without any judicial supervision.

I understand that this is the digital age and that progress is critical to society, but when a dystopian novel starts to become a reality we should probably reanalyze the situation.

It’s not just a book anymore … it’s real life. And Big Brother is watching you.