Forthcoming Papers

Car-ving Out Notions of Privacy: The Impact of GPS Tracking and Why Maynard is a Move in the Right Direction

Justin P. Webb


In a controversial decision in 2010, the D.C. Circuit held that warrantless GPS tracking of an automobile for an extended period of time violates the Fourth Amendment. The D.C. Circuit approached the issue in a novel way, using “mosaic theory” to assert that aggregation of information about an individual’s movements, over an extended period of time, violated an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy. This Note discusses how state and federal courts have dealt with warrantless GPS tracking, and ultimately asserts that the Maynard court’s decision was correct, insofar as it takes account of the interaction of changing technology and shifting societal notions of privacy. The Note urges the Supreme Court to incorporate an approach similar to Maynard within its Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. The Note concludes that failure to do so will contract already-cramped notions of privacy in the digital age, and facilitate a normative shift in conceptions of privacy that may be detrimental and irreversible.