Are Police Violating Privacy With GPS Tracking?

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Boston.com on 04/10/2015 by Allison Manning

About 3,000 people in Massachusetts are wearing court-ordered ankle monitors right now. And under a little-known agreement between police and probation officials, officers can use those monitors to see where many of those people are at any time.

It’s a longstanding practice for probation officials to keep track of people who have agreed to wear the monitors as a condition of their freedom. But police are also using the monitors to try to catch them committing new crimes.

Civil liberties experts say the situation raises questions about whether police can continue to scrutinize the movements of people who in some cases have not been convicted of anything.

The recent shooting of a Boston police officer during a traffic stop has dominated headlines for weeks. But one detail that has been largely overlooked is how that stop began.

One of the passengers in the car was Dennis A. Wilson, who was on GPS monitoring as he awaited trial on charges that included threatening a police officer, resisting arrest and driving without a license. Police wanted to talk to him about a shooting in Roxbury, and used his ankle monitor to find him.