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Former Leaders of FBI, DEA Urge Stricter Privacy Laws in GPS Tracking

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The tension between effective law enforcement and personal privacy is always present to some degree, but has certainly intensified in the decade following 9/11.

Now, a bipartisan group including former FBI and DEA leaders are calling for new safeguards to protect individuals’ personal privacy.

The Constitution Project, a D.C.-based think tank, is calling for limit’s on law enforcement uses of GPS and other tracking technologies, reports the Associated Press.

A report released by the think tank urges that a search warrant be required for any GPS surveillance lasting more than 24 hours, and that the specific use of GPS devices being applied secretly to a suspect’s car require a warrant from the get-go. In the past few years reports have surfaced of FBI agents secretly placing GPS tracking units under the bumper’s of individual’s cars, such as an animal rights activist and an Arab-American student.

The GPS tracking debate is “one instance of the much broader problem of regulating new technology,” said Patricia Wald, of the Constitution Project and the former chief judge on the federal appeals court in Washington.

The White House maintains that warrants would hamper law enforcement investigations and, because the surveillance monitors movements made in public, they are not needed, according to the AP. The latter would presumably not apply to the secretive installing of tracking units on citizen’s cars.

Among the members of the committee that produced the report is Asa Hutchinson, who ran the DEA under President George W. Bush. “As the former head of the DEA, I understand the need for tracking bad guys, being able to secretly monitor a suspect’s movements. But this is a good balance between the needs of law enforcement and privacy issues,” Hutchinson said, according to AP.

The report comes as the Supreme Court is set to consider the issue in November.

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