Jonesing For A Privacy Mandate, Getting A Technology Fix--Doctrine to Follow
While the Jones Court held unanimously that the Government’s use of a GPS device to track Antoine Jones’s vehicle for twenty-eight days was a Fourth Amendment search, the Justices disagreed on the facts and rationale supporting the holding. Beyond the very narrow trespass-based search theory regulating the Government’s attachment of a GPS device to Jones’s vehicle with the intent to gather information, the majority opinion does nothing to constrain government use of other tracking technologies, including cell phones, which merely involve the transmission of electronic signals without physical trespass. While the concurring opinions endorse application of the Katz reasonable expectation of privacy test to instances of government use of tracking technologies that do not depend on physical trespass, they offer little in the way of clear, concrete guidance to lower courts that would seek to apply Katz in such cases. Taken as a whole, then, the Jones opinions leave us still “Jonesing” for a privacy mandate.