This November the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in United States v. Jones, “the most important Fourth Amendment case in a decade” according to New York Times reporter Adam Liptak. The issue is whether police must obtain a warrant to attach a GPS unit to criminal suspect’s vehicle and then track its movements for weeks. Last year the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in Jones that such GPS tracking required a warrant. A split exists because the Seventh and Ninth Circuits have upheld the use of evidence obtained from GPS tracking. The NY Times article reports that many lower courts addressing this issue have cited George Orwell’s 1984, which I describe in the Introduction to my Internet Law Casebook as “describing a world in which governments control all information and omnipresent Big Brother monitors everyone through two-way electronic devices.” My Casebook mentions it because 1984–and Orwell’s similarly-dystopian Animal Farm–were two of the books Amazon.com deleted from its users Kindles after the holder of their copyright claimed Amazon.com was not licensed to sell the books.
George Orwell would be proud of his prescience.