Blog Tour and Guest Post: War on Privacy by Jacqueline Klosek

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 Posted by Dina N

I am pleased to welcome Jacqueline Klosek, author of the book War on Privacy. She has kindly agreed to write a guest post for my readers.

Guest Post by Jacqueline Klosek

Testing the Limits on Governmental Intrusion Into Personal Privacy Rights: Cases Raise the Question as to Whether the Police Be Permitted to Install a GPS Device on a Suspects Car Without a Warrant

Our society is continually being called upon to evaluate how far our law enforcement officials and other governmental agencies should be permitted to go in effort to protect our society. As technology develops and circumstances evolve, new threats to our privacy and civil liberties arise.

One current debate in this regard concerns whether the police should be required to obtain a warrant before placing a GPS device on a suspect’s car for the purposes of tracking that individual.   The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet considered the matter but the issue is not entirely new to our courts.  State courts in Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Washington that have considered the issue have ruled that a warrant would be required before a GPS device could be installed on a suspect’s car.  At present, only a single federal appellate court has rule on the issue and has reached a different result. In 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled that a warrant was not required, thereby ruling in favor of the government.

Now, the issue is under consideration by the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.  In this case, the police had obtained a warrant prior to installing a GPS device on a suspect’s car. However, subsequently, there was an issue about whether the court order was faulty.  The government took the position that it did not matter whether or not the order was defective, because the government did not need an order to install the GPS device.

The issue under consideration by the court is an extremely important one.  While it is of utmost importance to prevent crime and apprehend criminal perpetrators, it is essential that we need become so overzealous in the pursuit of these goals that we allow civil rights to be trampled upon.  Allowing law enforcement to install GPS tracking devices on vehicles without a warrant would, as the New York court warned, amount to:  “an enormous unsupervised intrusion by the police agencies of government upon personal privacy.” (People v. Weaver, available at:

The underlying issues here go far beyond the consideration of the propriety of the installation of a GPS tracking device on a single suspect’s car.  Technology will continue to evolve and, as it does, our law enforcement officials will develop news means of monitoring people and collecting information about their behavior.  It is crucial that our laws keep pace.

The inherent tension between the protection of privacy rights and civil liberties on the one hand and the quest to ensure that society is safe and secure, on the other, is a topic that has interested me for some time.  I cover one particular aspect of this, namely, the impact of the war on terrorism on privacy, in my book, War on Privacy. This book examines, on a global perspective, the years following 9/11 and explores the impact that the war on terror has had on individual privacy rights throughout the world.  In my view, the tensions between protecting individual privacy rights and ensuring the security of society will never be resolved fully. Rather, our interpretations as to what is and is not acceptable with respect to governmental intrusions into personal privacy are likely to continue to shift in accordance with pertinent factors at play in our society and our world."
About the Author 
Jacqueline Klosek is an attorney whose practice focuses on data privacy and security, as well as drafting and negotiating technology agreements. Jacqueline is a frequent writer and lecturer. Her most recent book is The Right to Know: Your Guide to Using and Defending Freedom of Information Law in the United States. Her prior books include: War on Privacy (Praeger, 2006); The Legal Guide to e-Business (Greenwood Publishing, 2003) and Data Privacy in the Information Age (Greenwood Publishing, 2000). She is presently working on Your Health Privacy: A Guide to Protecting the Privacy and Security of your Medical Information, a book focused on privacy and data sector in healthcare.


  1. JM said...

    Wow, that's creepy! I had no idea that was even up for debate. And are we talking any suspect - suspect for something like graffiti or those sorts of things? They could be tracking all our movements in a short time. Gives me the shivers.

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