Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Tracking Devices - Part I

Posted by Chris Morales on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 @ 11:54 AM

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Tracking Devices

A. Global Positioning Systems (GPS)

1. Growth of Industry

The use and inclusion of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) in everyday electronics has been increasing over recent years and will likely continue to rise. “ Global GPS sales have surpassed $20 billion a year,” said the Commerce Department’s David Sampson, “ and will keep on growing at a healthy rate, according to industry estimates.” See Pellerin, United States Updates Global Positioning Systems Technology (Feb. 3, 2006), available online at (Website is achieved and no longer updated as of Mar. 31, 20111; for directed link, enter article title into search field). Nearly 35 million of these handheld or dashboard-mounted units were sold around the world in 2007. Twice as many as in 2006. The Netherlands-based TomTom and its main rival, American Garmin, make nearly half of all personal investigation devices. See Location, Location, Location: Where Is the navigation Industry Heading?, The Economist (Oct. 4, 2007), available to subscribers online at

2. GPS Use by Law Enforcement

As use of GPS devices for consumers and private citizens increases, so does their use by law enforcement in crime investigations and prevention. GPS technology is used to monitor both suspects and convicted criminals. Cerullo, GPS Tracking Devices and the Constitution.The Police Chief (May 2011), available at

Both Massachusetts and North Carolina have successfully used the system to monitor domestic violence offenders, as the devices alert law enforcement when an offender enters a prohibited geographic area. Another use for GPS Devices is to enforce house-arrests sentences or conditions of prohibited for nonviolent and juvenile (in California) offenders. Under the Sexual Predator Punishment, Control, and Containment Act, Sex offenders who are committed to prison and released on parole for an offense (or any attempt) listed in Pen C §290 (c) must be monitored and placed on a GPS for the term of his or her parole. Pen C §§3000.07, 3004 (b).

GPS Tracking Devices have also been used by law enforcement for the following purposes:

- To rack a vehicle purchases or used of transporting drugs into one state from another
- To perform surveillance of suspected marijuana cultivators
-To prove importation charges by showing that a boat has traveled from outside U.S. territory waters.
-To Show modus operandi in marine drug importation schemes

B. Cell Phones

1. Convergence of Cell Phone and Navigation Gear Technology

While cellular telephone usage is also increasing, it is clear that mobile phones and navigation gear are converging. In late 2007, Navteq, based in Chicago “formally accepted an $8.1 billion offer form Nokia, the world’s largest mobile-phone maker, and a month prior to that Garmin, a Kansas City-cased GPS maker, withdrew its $3.3 billion hostile bid for Tele Atlas, leaving the map-maker to rival TomTom.” See GPS Changes Direction, The Economist (December 14, 2007), available to subscribers at According to information in Wikepedia, over 150 million smart phones with GPS capabilities in Wikepedia, over 150 million smart phones with GPS capabilities were sold in 2009.

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is requiring that all wireless licenses be E911) compliant. The Second phase of the E911 program will require all wireless carriers to provide latitude and longitude information of a caller with an accuracy range within 50-300 meters. while grounded in concerns over public safety, the implementation of the E911 program gives rise to yet more concerns over privacy. See Wrostad, Where's the Fire? E911 Strategies Slow to Ignite, Mobile Tech Today (June 7, 2001). 

 The Morales Law firm would like to thank Scientific Evidence in California Criminal Cases for sharing this information with us

Part II - Posted on 1/21/13

big brother is tracking you gps and the 4th amendment

Tags: law, Tracking Devices, GPS, Sex offenders, crime, cellphones, prevention