Global X-Ray Vision… Without a Warrant
Have you caught wind of this story?
Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old computer salesman and community college student, took his car in for an oil change earlier this month and his mechanic spotted an odd wire hanging from the undercarriage.
The wire was attached to a strange magnetic device that puzzled Afifi and the mechanic. They freed it from the car and posted images of it online, asking for help in identifying it.
Two days later, FBI agents arrived at Afifi’s Santa Clara apartment and demanded the return of their property — a global positioning system tracking device now at the center of a raging legal debate over privacy rights.
Even staunch libertarians on the reasonable side of the line to anarchy would probably agree that police agencies ought to have recourse to such technology, given justification. However, at least in some states, equation of GPS trackers with police stakeouts makes warrants unnecessary, and that’s a clear violation of privacy rights.
When police tail suspects, there are natural property limits to what they can do. A GPS tracker goes wherever the car goes. That the officer observing the signal may be on public or government property does not mean that he or she should have unchecked access to a sort of global x-ray vision.