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Appeals court rules city can monitor taxis’ movements with GPS

It’s not un-fare for the city to track taxi drivers’ whereabouts with their cabs’ GPS systems, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

Cabbie Hassan El-Nahal had sued the city and the Taxi & Limousine Commission back in 2013, charging the installation of a tracking system in his taxicab violated his Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

The devices, which were installed in cabs back in 2004, were used in a crackdown against dirty drivers in 2010 that found that 13,315 of 21,819 drivers had overcharged customers – some as often as 1,000 times.

El-Nahal, who’d been a driver for over 20 years, was slapped with administrative charges stemming from the probe. The TLC said he’d overcharged passengers 10 times over a three-month period between 2009 and 2010 and revoked his hack license. The charges were later thrown out following a lengthy appeals process and he got his license back.

He then filed suit, charging his constitutional rights were violated when the “TLC mandated the physical placement of tracking devices in privately owned taxicabs.”

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling found he had no ownership interest in the cab and couldn’t argue the government had improperly intruded in his property since it was already installed at the time he used it.

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