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  • GPS tracking issue of cabs in New York

    Whether New York City can constitutionally use GPS devices to monitor cab drivers' movements and fares landed before a federal appeals court Thursday.

    The appeal spotlights the growing reach of tracking technology, which has been used to monitor everybody from public school students to garbage collectors, truckers, and now cab drivers.

    Nobody doubts that some cabbies overcharge tourists and those unfamiliar with New York's terrain. But what is being questioned is whether the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission can fine or fire drivers with data obtained from GPS devices that were installed without court warrants.

    The specific case before the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals concerns driver Hassan El-Nahal, who was accused of overcharging passengers. He lost and regained his taxi license several times. He sued on behalf of himself and others who were fined or who lost their taxi license due to information gathered from GPS devices. The trackers were installed on licensed cabs in 2007, and among other things, they monitor trip routes, trip times, and fees. A federal judge ruled against El-Nahal, and he appealed.

    Attorneys for El-Nahal argue that the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that attaching GPS monitoring devices to vehicles was a search and that a probable cause warrant was generally required.
    "We hold that the Government's installation of a GPS device on a target's vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes a 'search,'" the high court ruled.

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