Posted by: bridget | 14 February 2007

You Didn’t See it Coming?

Courtland Milloy opines that GPS tracking should not be used for truant students. He finds this to be an encroachment on liberties:

“Excuse me. But that is obscene. Electronic monitoring is used by criminal court judges to keep track of felons. Researchers use them to track the movements of wild animals. Let parents use such devices if they must. But that’s no way for government to treat a child.”

So the relevant distinction is between children (albeit ill-behaved ones) and adults, not between humans and non-humans? Dogs, cell phones, and cars have GPS devices so they can be found. Aside from the puppies (who, unlike ET, lack opposable thumbs and cannot phone home), we put GPS into things that lack bodies, and thus the basic right to bodily integrity.

This elephant remembers a similar issue before this; let’s dig through blog archives to find a warning from the California elections in 2006, which proposed to put GPS tracking units in all convicted sex offenders: “GPS tracking: please, let’s not start down this road. The pachyderm has no desire to tag people like animals in the wild. As a libertarian, she gives a big elephant shudder at the idea of tracking people for life.”

Sex offenders are fair game. Now truant kids are on the list (surprise, surprise). Who is next – college students who don’t call home? People, people: 1984 is a warning, not a prophecy or a suggestion.

The Fourth Amendment may cover this, if GPS tracking can be considered a “search” of a person.

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