Your driveway’s no longer safe from Big Brother—and his GPS
Wed, Sep 22, 2010 (4:55 p.m.)
It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your kids are? No? Well, maybe Uncle Sam does.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit—the one in California that conservative pundits always complain about—says it’s okay for the government to sneak onto your driveway at night and secretly attach a GPS monitoring device to your car. No warrant, no warning required.
Well, Las Vegans, hold onto your hats (before they get tagged); Nevada is part of the Ninth Circuit, which means the ruling applies to us, too.
The case began in 2007, when the DEA suspected Juan Pineda-Moreno was part of a marijuana-growing operation. Agents snuck onto Pineda-Moreno’s driveway and tagged his Jeep with a tracking device. For the next four months, the agents followed Pineda-Moreno’s whereabouts—then they used that information to indict him.
The court’s majority opinion said Pineda-Moreno had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his driveway. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski’s dissenting opinion predictably/appropriately evoked Orwell: “1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it’s here at last.”
What does this mean for you? It means that if you don’t want the federal government coming onto your driveway at night, put up a fence or a “No Trespassing” sign. Do something that makes clear, in no uncertain terms, that you expect your private property to remain private.
Or just park your car in the garage.