Last month in United States v. Jones, the Supreme Court ruled that attaching a GPS to a vehicle and using it to track that vehicle's movements is a search under the Fourth Amendment. In addition, the court held that attaching a GPS device to a car without a search warrant constitutes an impermissible warrantless search.
Following the Jones ruling, many commentators questioned how law enforcement would alter their use of GPS tracking. According to the Wall Street Journal, there has been a “sea change” within the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI in how they use GPS tracking.
At a conference in San Francisco, FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann stated that the Jones ruling prompted the FBI to turn off 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in operation. Weismann remarked that the FBI had problems collecting the GPS devices that it had turned off. In some instances, the FBI petitioned courts to obtain permission to turn on the GPS devices briefly so that the FBI could locate the devices and remove them.