After Court Ruling, FBI Scales Back Use of GPS Surveillance


The FBI has begun cutting back GPS surveillance in an array of criminal and intelligence investigations following a Supreme Court ruling last month restricting its use, a federal law enforcement official told USA Today. The bureau began implementing the change the day after the Jan. 23 ruling in which the court found that attaching such a device to a car amounted to a search covered by the Fourth Amendment, requiring police to seek warrants in many cases.

The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter, said the GPS directive was issued until further legal guidance is provided on the use of the technology. Meanwhile, the official said, additional FBI agents have been dispatched to cover costly, labor-intensive surveillance operations that had previously relied on GPS technology. The FBI’s actions represent the first evidence of a tactical change by federal law enforcement prompted by the court’s ruling, which has raised new questions throughout the criminal justice and intelligence communities.

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