By Meymo Lyons
The same GPS technology that motorists use to get directions can be used by police without a warrant to track the movements of criminal suspects on public streets.
In a case that prompted warnings of Orwellian snooping by the government, the Virginia Court of Appeals unanimously ruled Fairfax County Police did nothing wrong when they planted a GPS device on the bumper of a registered sex offender's work van, without getting a warrant.
Police were investigating a series of sexual assaults in northern Virginia in 2008 when they focused on David L. Foltz Jr., a registered sex offender on probation. They attached a global positioning system device to the van he drove for work and tracked him as he drove around.
After another sexual assault occurred, police checked the GPS log and determined Foltz had been a block or two from the scene at the time of the attack. That prompted officers to follow him in person the next day. They saw Foltz knock a woman to the ground and attempt to sexually assault her. Foltz was arrested, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Foltz' appealed, claiming if police could track him by GPS without a warrant, all citizens are subject to the sort of ''Big Brother'' government monitoring that George Orwell wrote about in his novel ''1984.'' The court found no merit in such a dire warning.