Va. Court: Police Can Use GPS Tracking

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The Virginia Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that police do not need a warrant to install a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to track someone in the Commonwealth.

The ruling is the latest in the controversy over privacy issues and technology. It comes after Fairfax County police attached a GPS device to a van in 2008 without a warrant in order to track a registered sex offender.
The court said the GPS system provides police with the same information they could get by following a suspect and says no one should expect privacy on public streets.

"Because the actual act of simply placing the GPS device in the bumper of appellant's work van conveyed no private information to the police and because appellant did nothing to prevent the public from observing the bumper, we find he did not exhibit an expectation of privacy in this area of the van," Judge Randolph A. Beales wrote for the majority.

"Although appellant contends that people commonly do not want to purchase vehicles that can be tracked by the police, it seems just as common for people to purchase cars that have devices installed that allow tracking of the vehicle," he wrote.

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