Approximately eighty-two years after Justice Brandeis’s dissent in Olmstead v. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the warrantless placement of a global positioning system (GPS) on a criminal suspect’s vehicle did not violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. The court, relying on precedent established by the United States Supreme Court, concluded that Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officials did not invade any area in which the appellant possessed a reasonable expectation of privacy. Furthermore, the court upheld the constitutionality of the GPS technology used by the DEA to track the appellant’s movements to and from suspected marijuana “grow houses.”
The Ninth Circuit’s holding in United States v. Pineda-Moreno does not constitute an outlier, but rather the latest in a growing body of federal jurisprudence in which courts have permitted advances in technology to restrict the privacy rights of citizens. When faced with privacy issues stemming from advances in technology over the last decade, federal courts have continued to rely upon precedent established twenty-seven years ago, rather than issuing decisions that recognize the implications created by new technology. Even as technology evolves to become more pervasive, courts continue to rely on an outdated application of the Fourth Amendment, thereby jeopardizing citizens’ privacy rights. . .