Satellite Tracking in Washington State Court Test

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William Bradley Jackson worried that he hadn’t properly concealed the shallow grave of his victim–his nine-year-old daughter. So he snuck away one quiet fall day to finish the job, unaware that sheriff’s deputies had secretly attached a satellite tracking device to his truck, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.

Sheriff’s investigators used the hidden device to retrace his path to the gravesite, where they found crucial evidence that led to his murder conviction in 2000. Next week, the Washington Supreme hears arguments in the Jackson case to test police agencies may use the device freely, without a warrant.

“Do we really want the ability to track everybody all the time, without any suspicion, or without probable cause?” asked Doug Klunder of the American Civil Liberties Union “How close are we to Big Brother?”

Many law enforcement agencies believe no warrant is needed for the tracking devices, because they simply record electronically what anyone could see by following a vehicle on the public streets.

“We’d be shocked if the court said otherwise,” said King County sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Fagerstrom.


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