Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
High Court Ruling on GPS Tracking Could Affect NYC Taxi Suit
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 02:35 PM
(New York -- Kathleen Horan, WNYC) A local attorney will argue a case using the recent Supreme Court decision banning law enforcement from using GPS to track suspects without a warrant to challenge the use of data gathered from GPS systems in cabs as evidence. He's defending a taxi driver in a lawsuit against the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission.
The driver, Mr. Robert Carniol, is one of thousands of cabbies who were accused of overcharging passengers by pushing the out-of-town rate on their meter in 2010. He was found guilty in an administrative hearing and lost his license. But attorney Dan Ackman is arguing in State Supreme court next month that officials obtained GPS data about his client and others illegally.
"Taxi drivers did not consent to be followed around individually 24 hours a day," Ackman said.
He said Monday's Supreme Court decision against law enforcement using GPS to track suspects is relevant, because the information in both cases was seized without a warrant that presents an illegal search and seizure.
"When you're seeking someone's livelihood by taking their license, as the TLC is, to me that's also law enforcement," Ackman said.
But Diana Murray, senior counsel with NYC Law Department, said "the courts have long recognized that 4th amendment privacy protections aren't applicable to highly-regulated industries such as the pawn shop and like taxi industries. The GPS in cabs is only active when the driver is on-duty and is deactivated when the driver is off-duty."
The city is seeking to have the case dismissed.