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GPS obsessed

26 April 2016

Private Eye in the Digital Age

By James Neely/Guest Author

Private investigators make their living by spying on people. They use legal means to follow a given person throughout his or her day with the goal of finding out whether he or she might be guilty of engaging in illegal or unsavory activities. Many private investigators work for legal teams, while others work with private individuals to monitor the activities of a spouse or business partner. Cramped offices, smoke-filled rooms, and long hours waiting in the car paint a picture that most associate with private investigation; however, the investigators of today use much more sophisticated techniques to gather information. Many rely heavily on GPS tracking to follow an individual. By placing a GPS tracking device under the car, they can follow a person’s movements from a remote location as the device sends signals at specified intervals.

Concerns over privacy violations have surfaced in many states as GPS tracking has become more common. In light of the controversy, the seventh circuit court of appeals ruled that placing a GPS tracking device in a vehicle did not constitute an unreasonable search since the information gathered could have been observed in the public sphere. Some states, however, have begun drafting their own laws to protect the privacy of their citizens. Georgia, for instance, is preparing to discuss a bill that would make it unlawful to place a GPS tracking device on a vehicle in a public place. The intent is to protect citizens from stalkers or from unreasonable surveillance.

While discussions about privacy concerns have repeatedly surfaced around the nation with regard to GPS tracking, the benefits of using the technology far outweigh its potential problems. Police can use the technology to monitor movements of suspected criminals and to follow the activity of parolees. Parents can monitor their children when they’re away from home or walking to and from school. And private investigators can legitimately use the devices to help them do their jobs, providing essential information for legal teams and private citizens. Even if states do begin passing privacy laws that prohibit the use of GPS tracking in certain situations, P.I.’s would still be able to monitor the car of a client’s spouse if the vehicle was registered under both names. Since the property belongs to both individuals, no violation of privacy would take place.

Private investigators have come a long way since they were stereotyped in black and white movies. With the help of GPS tracking, they will continue to play a vital role in providing information to their clients.

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