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Sotomayor, in her separate opinion, wrote that it may be time to rethink all police use of tracking technology, not just long-term GPS.

“GPS monitoring generates a precise, comprehensive record of a person’s public movement that reflects a wealth of detail about her familial, political, religious and sexual associations,” Sotomayor said. “The government can store such records and efficiently mine them for information for years to come.”

Alito also said the court and Congress should address how expectations of privacy affect whether warrants are required for remote surveillance using electronic methods that do not require the police to install equipment, such as GPS tracking of mobile telephones. Alito noted, for example, that more than 322 million cellphones have installed equipment that allows wireless carriers to track the phones’ locations.

“If long-term monitoring can be accomplished without committing a technical trespass _ suppose for example, that the federal government required or persuaded auto manufacturers to include a GPS tracking device in every car _ the court’s theory would provide no protection,” Alito said.

Sotomayor agreed. “It may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to their parties,” she said.

Washington lawyer Andy Pincus called the decision “a landmark ruling in applying the Fourth Amendment’s protections to advances in surveillance technology.” Pincus has argued 22 cases before the Supreme Court and filed a brief in the current case on behalf of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a civil liberties group with expertise in law, technology and policy.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the court’s decision was “a victory for privacy rights and for civil liberties in the digital age.” He said the ruling highlighted many new privacy threats posed by new technologies. Leahy has introduced legislation to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a 1986 law that specifies standards for government monitoring of cellphone conversations and Internet communications.

The lower appellate court that threw out Jones‘ conviction also objected to the duration of the surveillance.

The case is U.S. v. Jones, 10-1259.