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One Man Fought the Law, and His Technology Won

Sahas Katta was sure that he hadn’t been speeding when he was pulled over in California’s Yolo County last year. After a brief exchange with the traffic cop, he was even more certain that he hadn’t been traveling more than 40 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone. Being a quiet fellow, however, he meekly apologized to the cop, accepted his citation and continued on his way.

Then Katta remembered he had been running Google Tracks, an Android app that lets you record your GPS tracks and live driving stats, including your speed and distance, on his Motorola Droid. The data showed the fastest speed Katta had hit was 26 miles per hour.

Armed with this information, Katta consulted a lawyer before deciding to fight the ticket. When his case was called Katta presented his Google Tracks data. He also asked the traffic cop to provide information about this radar gun training and about the last time his radar gun was calibrated. The cop was unable to answer either question sufficiently. Katta’s ticket was thrown out.

Experts emphasize that they cannot say for sure whether the Google Tracks data swayed the judge’s decision or not. CNET cited a similar case in Ohio that went the other way. In that case, a man was accused of going 84 miles per hour in a 65 miles per hour zone. He presented his GPS records as evidence, but the appeals court ruled against him stating it didn’t have enough information about this GPS system to make his case legitimate.

You have to admit that Katta’s case does set a precedent, however, for the ways in which technology might be used for and against you. Think about it, cell phones and smartphones record your every move. They know where you are, record where you’ve been and reveal who you’ve recently communicated with. It will definitely be interesting to see how these technological innovations affect the justice system in the years to come.


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