A federal appeals court has ruled that New York City can track taxi drivers by using their installed GPS system and this tracking device does not violate the Fourth Amendment rights of unreasonable search and seizure.
In a 2-1 decision, the Second Circuit held that taxi drivers do not have a protected privacy interest in the vehicles they drive and that taxicabs are “not truly private vehicles.”
New York taxicabs were fitted for GPS back in 2004 and this collected data would later be used to keep track on whether taxi drivers were overcharging passengers for a higher suburban rate while they were still driving within city limits.
Cab Driver Hassan El-Nahal was among the drivers who were accused of overcharging passengers in 2010 and he sued the city and the Taxi & Limousine Commission in 2013 stating it violated his Fourth Amendment protection.
In 2010, the GPS devices showed that 13,315 of 21,819 drivers had overcharged customers.
El-Nahal had been a driver for over 20 years when the Taxi & Limousine Commission said he had overcharged passengers ten times over a three-month period between 2009 and 2010.
He then filed suit, stating that his constitutional rights were violated with the tracking devices in privately owned taxi cabs. The Second Court of Appeals ruling found that as he had no ownership interest in the cab, he could not argue that the government had intruded in his property since the GPS was already installed at the time he used the vehicle.
The Taxi & Limousine Commission was very pleased with the ruling.
Daniel Ackman, a lawyer for the driver, said he was disappointed by the ruling and is considering an appeal.
Ackman commented, “The decision establishes a potentially dangerous precedent – it could allow the government to require car manufacturers to install GPS devices in all cars to track individual drivers. They’d have no Fourth Amendment claim because they did not own the car when the device was installed.”
YellowCabNYCTaxi.com Staff Writer