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Student files lawsuit over FBI's GPS tracking

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  • Student files lawsuit over FBI's GPS tracking

    To think the FBI would've learned how to be more discreet with the devices by now. I have nothing to hide but if I found a tracking device I would destroy it at once because it may be someone who isn't LE stalking me.

    WASHINGTON – A community college student who says he's never done anything that should attract the interest of federal law enforcement officials filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the FBI for secretly putting a GPS tracking device on his car.
    Yasir Afifi, 20, says a mechanic doing an oil change on his car in October discovered the device stuck with magnets between his right rear wheel and exhaust. They weren't sure what it was, but Afifi had the mechanic remove it and a friend posted photos of it online to see whether anyone could identify it. Two days later, Afifi says, agents wearing bullet-proof vests pulled him over as he drove away from his apartment in San Jose, Calif., and demanded their property back.
    Afifi's lawsuit, filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, claims the FBI violated his civil rights by putting the device on his car without a warrant. His lawyers say Afifi, who was born in the United States, was targeted because of his extensive ties to the Middle East — he travels there frequently, helps support two brothers who live in Egypt, and his father was a well-known Islamic-American community leader who died last year in Egypt.
    FBI Spokesman Michael Kortan declined to discuss the lawsuit or the agency's investigation into Afifi, but said, "The FBI conducts investigations under well-established Department of Justice and FBI guidelines that determine what investigative steps or techniques are appropriate. Those guidelines also ensure the protection of civil and constitutional rights."
    Afifi, who is a business marketing major at Mission College and works as a computer salesman, said at a news conference to announce the suit that the agents never gave him a clear answer as to why he was being monitored.
    "I'm sure I have done nothing wrong to provoke anyone's interest," Afifi said, although he noted that his family is from Egypt, he's a young man and he makes a lot of calls overseas. "So I'm sure I fit their profile."
    Judges have disagreed over whether search warrants should be required for GPS tracking. Afifi's lawyers say they are filing this lawsuit in hopes of a decision saying that any use of tracking devices without a warrant in the United States is unconstitutional.
    The federal appeals court in the Washington circuit where Afifi's case was filed ruled in August that the collection of GPS data amounts to a government "search" that required a warrant. The Obama administration asked the court to change its ruling, calling the decision "vague and unworkable" and arguing that investigators will lose access to a tool they now use "with great frequency."
    The lawsuit says the agents who showed up to collect the device were "hostile," threatening to charge Afifi if he didn't immediately cooperate and refusing his request to have a lawyer present. The suit also says agents showed they knew private details about his life, such as which restaurants he dined at, the new job he'd just obtained and his plans to travel abroad.
    "At first I was really confused," Afifi said at the news conference, adding that he finally decided to turn over the GPS. "I did give it back to them after a lot of pressure."
    Life is what you make of it

  • #2
    I know that in public there's no expectation of privacy, but I think that physically placing a tracking device on a suspect's person or property is a bit more extreme.

    Wonder what would happen if I started slapping GPS tracking devices on FBI vehicles...

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    • #3
      This happened before there was any case law covering the application of GPS. Since this happened, privacy advocates raised a big fuss about it. IIRC, his vehicle was parked on a public street when they put the device on. He met all the criteria of someone you would want the government to keep an eye on. Everyone will raise a fuss about the FBI intruding on his policy and have a hissy fit about GPS use but if they don't watch these people, and something happens, everyone wants to know why the government isn't doing more.

      Double standards and ignorance... typical reaction from the average citizen. I don't know what he hopes to accomplish. As far as I know, they didn't need a warrant at the time because there is no expectation of privacy in public. It's simply a less intrusive and easier way to track movements than using a live agent.
      I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.
      - Mark Twain

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      • #4
        Afifi's lawsuit, filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, claims the FBI violated his civil rights by putting the device on his car without a warrant.
        Last I heard there was no warrant required for a tracking device, even if the car was parked in his own driveway when they attached the device. And claiming "I've done nothing to attract the interest of law enforcement" means exactly squat.

        Good luck with that lawsuit.
        "Sir, does this mean that Ann Margaret's not coming?"

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        • #5
          You realize this is from several months ago, right?

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          • #6
            I think this is something that will, in the future, require a warrant. And that'll be that.

            If I recall, there are two conflicting court cases coming out of different districts or circuits on this subject.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by zr5667 View Post
              I think this is something that will, in the future, require a warrant. And that'll be that.

              If I recall, there are two conflicting court cases coming out of different districts or circuits on this subject.
              As was stated many, many times in the other threads on this topic; as long as the device is not hardwired into the vehicle's electrical supply and the device was planted while the vehicle was accessible by the public (yes that includes a driveway), there is no need for a warrant. This is nothing new and a widely used law enforcement practice throughout the country.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by madchiken View Post
                You realize this is from several months ago, right?
                Apparently, the lawsuit was just filed yesterday, although the incident was widely reported months ago.
                Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by zr5667 View Post
                  I think this is something that will, in the future, require a warrant. And that'll be that.

                  If I recall, there are two conflicting court cases coming out of different districts or circuits on this subject.
                  I think that you are.....

                  I'm glad the FBI was doing their job and recovered government property.
                  Pete Malloy, "The only thing black and white about this job is the car."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by OneAdam12 View Post
                    I think that you are.....

                    I'm glad the FBI was doing their job and recovered government property.
                    Well thanks, you're not so...

                    Comment

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