In a case to determine the legality of police using GPS tracking devices to follow a suspect, the Osaka District Court has ruled that such actions are legal and within the rights of the police force in order to ensure public safety.
The ruling was handed down in the case of a man who filed a suit against police for using GPS to track him during their investigation into a series of vandalism incidents.
The court heard that in their investigation of eight cases of buildings being vandalized, police suspected a 36-year-old man and attached a GPS tracking device to his car in order to follow him., NTV reported Saturday. Because no warrant had been obtained for the device, the suspect's lawyer filed a lawsuit claiming that his client's privacy had been violated.
In handing down his ruling, the presiding judge said, "The GPS device was used only to assist officers in tailing the man when he was out in public, and was in no way an aggressive violation of his privacy."
The defendant was found guilty of destroying public property and sentenced to four years in prison.
According to legal experts, this is the first time that any court has ruled the use of such tracking devices as legal, even though the law already allows police to track suspects in criminal cases via the electro-magnetic waves emitted by their cell phones. Police may get a warrant to request information pertaining to an individual’s current location from mobile phone service providers. The providers are able to give accurate readings of the distance between a cell phone and base station.
The government is considering mandating the use of GPS monitoring devices among repeat sex offenders as a way of preventing recidivism and alleviating the anxiety of sex crime victims. Police also want to use GPS devices to counter the increase in scams in which someone calls an elderly person, pretending to be a relative in need of money, as well as other money transfer scams.© Japan Today